Animated Films

Short and Sweet: A Selection of Short Animated Films suitable for Intergenerational Audiences.

“The following film reviews and lesson plans were prepared by some of the students attending the course on International Children’s Film, taught by Dr. Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak (Institute of English Studies, University of Wrocław, Poland and a member of the Children’s Literature team at the Museum of Childhood Ireland) in the winter semester 2022/2023 as part of the Erasmus Mundus International Master: Children’s Literature, Media & Culture (

The students focused on short animated films for children available on You Tube and thus easily accessible for child and adult viewers. The reviews draw attention to aesthetic, educational, and entertaining qualities of the films, focusing on how the compressed, often skeletal, and yet captivating narratives, combined with evocative music and often highly artistic graphics, offer contents of interest and value that can be enjoyed by intergenerational audiences. The lesson plans invite further engagements with the films through diverse activities related to film education, including explorations of the medium of animation, the emotional and cognitive engagements with the film, and creative exercises.

We hope this is a useful resource for all interested in children’s film.”


Coin Operated

Coin Operated is a 2017 animated short film written and directed by Nicholas Arioli and produced by Jennifer Dahlman. The film premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival in 2017

Initial release: October the 3rd, 2017

Director: Nicholas Arioli

Screenplay: Nicholas Arioli

Music by: Emile MosseriAlex Schiff

Produced by: Jennifer Dahlman

Reviewed by Sidra Fariah

Coin Operated: Dream it, Do it

Coin Operated (2017) reminded me of the oft-quoted and somewhat clichéd line from Paulo Coelho (2014): “…when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (24). A story of a young boy passionate about space travel, Coin Operated is a 5-minute animated indie short film written and directed by debutant Nicholas Arioli, a computer scientist by training. The plot revolves around the protagonist’s plan to ride a coin-operated rocket to space. 

Access to media production technologies has improved significantly over the years. And with several online platforms, like YouTube and Vimeo, available to share one’s productions, the indie animation film space has been growing significantly. Films like Coin Operated are possible to make and watch today because of the democratisation of the processes of filmmaking and distribution. While it is an indie, which may mean it could make strong claims to experiment with both form and content, I found the film very close to the style and stories championed by Pixar. 

There is no dialogue in the film; its narrative is propped up by sound effects and music. The score has been composed by Emile Mosseri and Alex Schiff, who have scored several shorts. Notably, Mosseri made his feature debut with the acclaimed The Last Black Man in San Francisco in 2019. The musical score of Coin Operated plays an important part in setting the overall mood as well as in depicting the protagonist’s emotions. There are six parts in the music: intro, c’mon mom, time-to-rocket, lemonade stand, ageing, and ending. For instance, when the young protagonist sees the coin-operated rocket for the first time, the time-to-rocket track perfectly translates his joy and excitement through the music.

The other striking feature of the film is the use of the time-lapse, which keeps the narrative tight. The time-lapse, along with the lemonade track, depicts the protagonist’s journey from a young boy to an old man and conveys playfulness, patience, persistence, and joy with great economy and impact. The sequence ends with a soft and nostalgic ageing track.

According to the director, the idea for this film came from the phrase “life-savings”: we save up money to spend it on something grand, which is one of the themes of the film ( I

liked the film because, in a very short time, it captures the wonderment and idealism that is part and parcel of childhood and it does not fizzle out even when the protagonist grows old and matures. But as simple parable-like stories go, they can also be read in a variety of ways.

On further reflection though, it occurred to me that the story ends up glorifying the contemporary “hustle culture” that demands young people to integrate themselves into the capitalist system and to achieve their ‘dreams’ even if it means they have to do things that they do not necessarily like or find meaningful. 


Coelho, P (2014) The Alchemist. India. HarperCollins Publishers

My Interview with ‘COIN OPERATED’ Director, Nicholas Arioli. Rama’s Screen. Available from: (last accessed 6th January, 2023)

Lesson plan for teachers, parents….

Lesson Plan

Coin Operated (2017)

Directed by Nicholas Arioli. A 5 minutes’ short animation

Recommended for age group: 8-11 years

Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes (total)

        15 minutes pre-screening warm-up discussion

        30 minutes for the film screening

        15 minutes post-screening discussion

        30 minutes for activity 1

        30 minutes for activity 2

Learning objective: By the end of this lesson the students will

– have formed a basic knowledge about money/financial literacy

– have developed their media literacy regarding how to create (shoot and edit) a short film and upload it on an online video-sharing platform/parents phone

Warm-up discussion: To familiarise the teacher or the instructor with the students’ general understanding and knowledge about films and money and to improvise the activities if needed.

Pre-screening warm-up discussion (15 minutes): To share about students’ preferences regarding watching films. What kind of films do they like to watch? Do they know the difference between live-action and animated films? Have they seen any short animated films? Ask students to name their favorite film (live-action or animation). Do they know how animated films are made?

Screening (5 minutes): Introduce them to Coin Operated. Then screen the film.

Post-screening discussion (15 minutes): What did the students understand from the film? It will help to liven the discussion about dreams/ambition and money/saving. What do they understand by these two broad concepts? Do they get pocket money and what do they do with that money? Do they have piggy banks?

Activity 1 (30 minutes): In the film, a young child sets up a lemonade stand to earn and save money. Has anyone done that? In this session, we will see how a lemonade stand can help us learn the basics of business, e.g. how to earn, be responsible for our business and keep track of money.

All the students should be provided with an activity sheet with some questions on it:( copy andpaste from here)

– What ingredients are required to make lemonade?

– From where do they get the ingredients?

– How much do the ingredients cost?

– How much money would they need to start?

– Where will they get the money to start the stall or will they save up for it?

– How much money will they have to make and sell to earn a profit?

– How much profit do they want?

– What will they do with the profits?

Activity 2 (30 minutes): Time-lapse and flipbook

Students will see how time-lapse works. The teacher will ask if they saw a young boy turned into an old man just in a few seconds.The teacher will explain that this technique in video/animation is known as time-lapse. Have they seen any other video(s) that use this technique?

Students will be provided with ten small pieces of paper and for the next nine days they will be required to draw on them, responding to the following prompt/theme: I Have a Dream. The first page will be drawn in class and the students can briefly share their ideas. The rest of the 9 pages can be filled in systematically during the lesson.

Homework activity: Once students have completed drawing in their flipbooks, teachers or parents can help them record a video through their parents phones (or upload it on a safe children’s account. This activity provides students with an opportunity to be artists /animators/filmmakers like Arioli, who is also a first-time animation filmmaker!

Sidra Fariah

A Joy Story: Joy and Heron

Joy Makes Joy

A Joy Story: Joy and Heron (2018).

Directed Kyra Buschor and Constantin Paeplow

Body Language and Music: The Movement of Emotions in Film

Reviewed by Estefania Daza

A small white dog runs excitedly to the edge of a dock, has doubts about jumping onto the boat in front of him but, after his owner boards, so does he. Soft music accompanies the two characters as they depart for a fishing trip. This is the start of the short film A Joy Story: Joy and Heron (2018), directed by Kyra Buschor and Constantin Paeplow. The film was produced by the Chinese retailer company to celebrate the Year of the Dog. Joy, the protagonist of the film, is the mascot of the company.

The calm atmosphere of the environment as night reaches its end contrasts with Joy’s struggles with Heron, a big bird who wants to take away his owner’s fishing worms. Joy’s efforts to stop Heron become harder as he is constantly hushed by his owner. Finally, the latter realizes what is happening and scares Heron off, but then Joy understands why the bird needs the worms: it has got babies to feed. An exchange of kind acts between the animals closes the story as the sun rises in the sky.

The film is fast-paced, but the warm arrival of dawn (the colour progression from cold blues to warm oranges works perfectly with the story), the happy ending, and the soft, cheerful music nicely balance the previous actions and reinforce the idea that helping others also benefits one’s own well-being. The slogan at the end of the film, “make joy happen”, enhances this sensation and calls on the viewer to replicate Joy’s empathetic response. The viewer may choose to ignore the phrase, by the sense of satisfaction that Joy’s mood portrays allows for the same closure.

Joy and Heron presents an opportunity for young children to practise or develop their audiovisual literacy skills. The framing of the shots enables them to follow Joy’s emotional journey and to see the story through his perspective. By perceiving how both characters’ body languages and facial expressions relate to the music, viewers can become familiar with common film cues used to underline an emotion through sound. The repetitive structure of the plot will maintain their attention and might provide notions of rhythm and character development. Additionally, the focus on Joy allows viewers to exercise their mind reading abilities (Nikolajeva, 2013) and to strengthen their empathy towards others.

The film is sweet and it does encourage some of’s positive core values (collaboration, gratitude, dedication (, Inc., n.d)), but it can also be seen as part of a publishing strategy aimed at all-age audiences. Although this does not diminish the quality of the film, its slogan (make joy happen) was previously used in the company’s advertisements, where it encouraged consumerism. Therefore, the slogan and its message should be approached critically and only in relation to their meaning in the film. All in all, I do recommend this short. Its audiovisual qualities, plot, and potential for raising empathy make it a good viewing experience.

References, Inc. (n.d.). Mission and values. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2023].

Nikolajeva, M. (2013). ‘Did you Feel as if you Hated People?’: Emotional Literacy Through Fiction. New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, 19 (2), pp. 95–107. doi:10.1080/13614541.2013.813334.

Lesson Plan for teachers, parents….

Music in film obviously plays a crucial role when it comes to transmitting emotions. However, there are multiple other aspects that contribute to the meaning-making process of the story in a film. How filmmakers play with these aspects is what creates their styles and provides us with compelling narratives. As Bazalgette (2022: 696) points out, “movies are also a unique and densely multimodal art form. They are full of rhetorical devices that do not reproduce our daily perceptual experiences”. She also claims that once viewers learn to read these devices, they take them for granted. It is not necessarily bad to be able to do so, as it might help us to become fluent readers of audiovisual texts. Nevertheless, losing all awareness of the technical characteristics that drive our emotions and thoughts while watching films can also be dangerous, as it could stop us from being critical. Hence, the aim of this lesson is to raise students’ awareness of the relation between sound and emotion in film. The focus will rely on emotions as embodied manifestations that can be guided by music and read in body language.

Film: A Joy Story: Joy and Heron

Age group: 8-10 years old

Duration: 60 minutes


– Computer

– Speakers

– Bluetooth earphones

Learning Objectives:

– Recognise and discuss the role of sound and music in the meaning-making process when watching an audiovisual product.

– Analyse a film’s narrative devices regarding its characters’ emotional states.

– Reflect on emotional expression through characters’ body language.

– Explore self-expression through movement (dance).


1. Introduction – 5mins

Present the film: title, directors, year of production. Don’t give away any details of the story or characters and don’t show any visuals. Briefly present the objective of the lesson, asking the group to prioritise hearing during the session to be able to participate in the sound-focused activities and to share a respectful and caring space with the other participants.

2. Hear the film – 5mins

Ask the group to hear the sound of the film. Play it without showing the images.

3. Make predictions – 5 mins

Discuss with the group what the film is about. What does it sound like? Who are the characters? Where are they? Can we have an idea of what happens or how they feel? Reflect on how we get to these ideas and what in the sound makes us think this.

4. Watch the film – 5 mins

Play it with images. Ask the group to pay attention to the sounds that previously called their attention and to identify the moments in which they appear.

5. Compare – 10 mins

Discuss with the group: Do their predictions align with what the film actually is about? How close were they? What did we get right? What do the characters feel and how does the sound help to show it? What about the body language? How do the characters move? What expressions do they make? Why? Are these expressions accompanied by a specific sound/music?

6. Watch dance video – 10 mins

Ask the group to pay attention to how movements and music relate in a dance video. Then, analyse together how the dance and the music create a feeling for the song beyond what the lyrics talk about (in case there are any). Examples of dance videos can be Slip (Chbeeb, 2015) or Fix you @coldplay (Dosal, 2015).

7. Dance – 15 mins

Ask the group to stand in a circle and direct a soft, short body warm-up. Bring awareness to the movements and bodily sensations. A volunteer steps to the centre of the circle and puts on Bluetooth earphones so that only he/she will hear the music. He/she dances or mimics, trying to portray the feeling it makes them feel. The rest of the group tries to figure out which feeling that is. Repeat with 4 or 5 different types of music, each performed by a different volunteer. If several Bluetooth earphones are available, participants could do the performance in pairs or small groups. Try to use music from films the group might be familiar with. Specific sounds could also work if foleys are long and present variations.

8. Conclusion – 5 mins

Discuss the experience: does it bring new light to sound or music usage in film?


A Joy Story: Joy and Heron. (2018). Passion Pictures. Available at: [Accessed 27 Sep. 2021].

Bazalgette, C. (2022). “How Children Learn to ‘Read’ Movies”. In: Noel Brown, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Film. Oxford University Press.

Chbeeb, P. (2015). SLIP | @PhillipChbeeb & Renee Kester | @ElliotMossMusicYouTube. Available at:

Dosal, E. (2015). Fix You @coldplay | Choreography @IaMEmiliodosal & @Kelsey_Landers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2023].

Estefania Daza


Napo is a 2020 animated short film directed by Gustavo Riberio, written by Gabriela Antonia Rosa and Gustavo Ribeiro. It was produced by Thais Peixe and Gustavo Ribeiro.

Initial release: 19 March, 2020 at Athens Animfest.

Director: Gustavo Ribeiro

Screenplay:  Gabriela Antonia Rosa and Gustavo Ribeiro

Music by: Francisco Okabe

Produced by: J Thais Peixe and Gustavo Ribeiro

Reviewed by Samuel Hayes

Napo (2021) is the first animated film from Mira Lumo founding director Gustavo Ribeiro. Ribeiro’s follow-up film, Aurora, is still in production. While we await the uplifting tale of a stary eyed girl, let us return to his first short. An all together more sombre piece, with a soothing soul.

Dualities permeate Napo: youth and age, grief and happiness, present and past, and 3D and 2D. The film follows a grieving old man and his grandson’s process of connection with his grandfather. What begin as the grandson’s innocuous doodles of events in old photographs catalyses the old man’s memories. The two bond and grow closer as the old man reminisces and the grandson discovers. Yes, that is in fact another duality.

The film visually represents the present in a conventional 3D-animated style. The flare in the animation comes from the contrast between this style and the doodle-esque 2D-animation that the memories are rendered in. This not only serves to contrast the past and the present, but also to create an artistic bridge between 3D-animation, a more contemporary style, and 2D-animation, a more classical style. This bridge is also narrative, as the 2D-animation is framed as representing the subjective perspective of the old man, who is seen reminiscing every time the film cuts to the 2D-animation. Simultaneously, it represents the subjective perspective of the grandson, as he is the one drawing the pictures that spark these memorial episodes. This is a subjective perspective they are hinted to share on account of their mutual interest in art. The grandson loves to doodle, and the old man is seen painting in a photograph toward the end of the film. This paints a charming cross-generational relationship that should warm the hearts of any parent, child or grandparent, grandchild pairings watching.

While discussing these bridges, however, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the other key bridge in this film, the character of the mother. She bridges the generational gap between the grandfather and grandson but is the first one to offer the photo album to the grandfather as a coping tool. She once again offers it to the grandson later in the film.

The film takes its time with the old man’s recovery, as a series of highs and lows rather than the process of constant improvement and a neat ending grief is often framed as. One criticism I have is that the same care is not taken with the grandson’s healing process, which feels more like a short footnote at the end of the film.

This being said however, the film does leave children and adults alike with a portrait of the grieving process, shown through a lens that may be relatable either to their context, or the experiences of their peers.


Brazil, 2020

Director: Gustavo Ribeiro

Screenplay by: Gabriella Antonia Rosa, Gustavo Ribeiro

Production Designers: Rayner Alencar, Giovani Kososki

Production Company: Mira Lumo

Funding: Paraná state government



[ ] – Denotes the time allotted to an activity

{ } – Denotes a reference to a previous section

( ) – Denotes a reference to a source listed in the bibliography


This lesson touches on topics relating to film literacy and artistry. It also uses the film to discuss experiences and ways of understanding. As such, the class may require a high degree of emotional labour on the part of the teacher. This may mean a class of this structure may be better undertaken by a properly trained school councillor. Smaller groups will also work better, and the lesson could potentially be adapted for smaller one on one sessions.

Lesson Plan for teachers, parents….


This lesson plan is designed for 2 classes of 40 minutes each, with homework between. It is based on the 2020 Brazilian short film Napo. By the end of this class students will have developed an understanding of the themes of generational relations, grief, and art therapy in this film. They will have also understood how the animation communicates these themes to them. They will have conducted light research on an event in their family or community and have produced an artwork based on it.

This lesson plan is designed for children aged 8-12.

According to Himebauch, Arnold and May, children aged 8-12 are in a “pre-adolescent” phase when they have an ‘adult’ understanding of death as permanent and final (2008: 242). By adult, they are not referring to the maturity of the child, but their basic understanding of what death is and what are its consequences.

Class 1

A) Set out plan for the lesson [2 Mins]

● Watch film

● Discuss and reflect

B) Watch Film + Redundancy for technical difficulties [16 Mins + 2 Mins]

C) Get students to discuss film in pairs: Did you like it? Why, why not? This can be scaled up to threes for larger classes [3 minutes]

D) Discuss what each pair thought of the film and write ideas on the board [16 minutes]

As part of the previous allotment of minutes, if students have not raised certain points, ask them about:

● Why the team used 2 different styles

● Points of conflict between the old man and the child, early in the film

● What brought the old man and the child together

● The old man’s experience of grief as compared to the child’s

● Have you seen any similar films, read similar books or otherwise engaged with media like this?

E) Set task of finding a picture of a grandparent/ parent/ guardian/ other older member of the community and ask someone with first-hand experience about the event. [3 Mins]

● They will bring a copy of the photo to class

● Also based on their interview with the family member, guardian or old community member, they will write a few details about the event in their copybook

Class 2

A) Set out plan for the lesson [2 mins]

● Personal discussion of loss

● Instruction & Questions

● Drawing

● Recap

B) Set out boundaries for discussion, i.e., if someone is uncomfortable with the subject matter or a point raised to make a gesture such as placing a hand on their forehead, so that the instructor can address it. [2 mins]

C) Ask if anyone has lost a loved one, family member or pet and discuss [8 mins]

D) Instruction regarding understanding of grief: attempt to link concepts to discussion [16 mins]-[8 mins instruction, 8 mins questions]; on finishing this section early, the instructor may wish to reallocate the time to the drawing exercise.

● The Grandfather is experiencing grief in the early part of the film and later dementia, as seen when he attempts to leave the house in the middle of the night (Mira Lumo 2021: 10:45-10:55)

● In the past grief was thought of as a process that took place in stages, but newer theories say that such stage theories (e.g. the five stages of grief) are too simple. (Eum et al 2021: 2)

● One of these is The Dual Process Model (DPM), where someone facing loss moves between feeling loss and restoration. Loss in this case means looking back and reminiscing, for example when the old man is remembering meeting his wife (Mira Lumo 2021: 9:45-10:15). Restoration can involve getting affairs in order or simply identity development, like when the grandfather and boy are bonding while watching tv (Mira Lumo 2021: 7:15-7:55).

“In DPM, two unique types of stressors are introduced: loss-orientation stressors and restoration-orientation stressors. Facing loss-orientation stressors involves processing the loss experience itself, such as reminiscing the time spent together with the deceased or longing for the deceased. Meanwhile, facing restoration orientation stressors involve dealing with the consequences of the loss, an effort to reorient oneself in a world without the deceased. These involve handling practical issues ranging from tackling financial problems to new identity development.” (Eum et al 2021: 2)

● Art Therapy, creative activities such as doll making are often used in therapy:

“… such interaction and play, dollmaking becomes an in-depth personal reflection process that offers a magnitude of discovery beyond a two-dimensional self-portrait. In the examples described herein, the dollmakers experienced their own re-creation as they created their dolls.” (Feen-Calligan, McIntyre, & Sands-Goldstein 2011: 172)

E) Draw a comic about the event in the photo [15 mins]

● Students will be provided with a piece of paper with 4 empty squares on it.

● They will be asked to use the copy of the photograph they bought into class

● Based on the details they wrote; they will attempt to create a narrative.

To assist students in this task, the teacher may offer a suggested structure for the comic.

For example, Kishotenketsu is a narrative structure consisting of Introduction, Development, Twist, and Conclusion (Brown 2015)

This can help struggling students to neatly introduce the characters of their comic strip, set the scene, and include narrative twists and turns. However, deviation from this structure may be encouraged provided students stay on task, in this case narrativizing the event they researched.

F) Recap and questions [5 mins]

The recap should touch on the following:

● Points raised during the discussion in class 1 {1C +1D}

● Points raised during the discussion in class 2 {2C}

● Points raised during the instruction in class 2 {2D}


● Arnold R. M., Himebauch A., May C. (2008) ‘Grief in Children and Developmental Concepts of Death #138’, Journal of Palliative Medicine, 11:2, 242-244

● Brown M. (2015) ‘Super Mario 3D World’s 4 Step Level Design’, Game Maker’s Toolkit, Youtube [Last Accessed 08/01/2023]

● Calligan H. F., McIntyre B., Sands-Goldstein (2009) ‘Art Therapy Applications of Dolls in Grief Recovery, Identity, and Community Service’, Art Therapy, Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 26:4, 167-173,

DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2009.10129613 [Last Accessed 08/01/2023]

● Mira Lumo (2021) Napo, Mira Lumo  [Last Accessed 08/01/2023]


Tella is a 2021 animated short film directed and written by Zachary Conlu. It has been recognised at a number of film festivals around the globe.

Screenplay by: Zachary Conlu.

Music by: Pauline Jan Villanueva

Sound design by:  Anthony Tobias

Tella: Coloring Emotions

Reviewed by Raquel Gollner Bonfante

With a delicate balance between simple and magical, Tella (2021) is a 12-minute animation about a flying girl with very long hair that teaches a fallen star how to fly back home. As the first released project of the young Philippine director Zachary John Conlu, Tella won awards in three international film festivals, including best short animation, best director, and best soundtrack. The success in competitions is justified for the same reason that makes this movie special: the highlight of the narrative’s message through animation techniques.

In terms of genre, Tella has a mystical aspect that is not in question here: a girl can fly, her hair seems like it obeys her commands, and there is a star with feelings and wishes. All of those supernatural occurrences are established as part of the narrative and accepted by viewers, making Tella a fantasy movie. Like most of Disney fantasy movies, especially the fairy tale ones, the story adopts a recurrent animation technique of bringing inanimate objects to life. The girl uses her hair as a functional limb, like Rapunzel from Tangled (2010), and there is an object (in this case a star) that can walk and interact, like Beauty and the Beast (1991). This animism, which in some religions is a belief that all things have a soul, results in an unlikely friendship between the girl and the star, creating the movie’s fantasy narrative.

Their relationship is highlighted by another animation trick: the color scheme. The inner emotions are represented by primary colors, such as blue and yellow, and their variants: green, orange, and brown. The girl wears a light blue dress and has saturated green eyes, symbolising hope and boldness, respectively. She is in harmony with her surroundings and she is disturbed by a strange presence. Even with the star’s initial bad behavior towards her, she waits until the latter is ready to come to her, and then she can help. The star is also blue — a hint that they are similar in their essence — but it loses the neon aspect of its shining when it refuses help and fails to fly again. At the same time, there is a subtle duality of the meaning of the color blue, as it may also imply loneliness. That emphasizes even more the kindness of the girl in helping a lost star return home, being lost herself.

This use of color combined with the soundtrack compensates for the lack of words in the film. No dialogue is needed when the animation so clearly speaks for itself. While the colours represent the characters’ personalities, the music expresses their actions. It goes from accelerated to calm when the curious girl tries to establish a partnership with the reluctant star, to epic when this same star decides to ask for help and go on an adventure with the girl.

Appropriate for kids of all ages, Tella is an engaging and entertaining short movie about kindness, gratitude, the power of friendship, and the certainty that, together, everything is possible. The companionship that made the star’s wish come true was only possible with the gentle push of a little girl. It shows children the power of respecting others and creating bridges for communication: it is never too late to believe in yourself or to cheer for others’ success. Tella is the perfect example of how to use the medium in favour of the narrative.

Lesson Plan for teachers, parents….

 Topic of the lesson

“The Medium is the Message”


This lesson plan aims at engaging students in a discussion about color theory and animation techniques as a way to influence the emotional response of viewers, as well as their comprehension of the narrative. Students will watch the movie in class, discuss their opinions and, after that, organize in groups to answer a few questions. In the end, there will be an individual task and a homework assignment. As a practical class, the main goal is to teach children that the structure of a film is as important as the narrative in understanding its message.

Aims and Goals

By the end of this lesson, students will have learned:

➢ Argumentative skills. Students will be able to debate and discuss with valid arguments and clear justification.

➢ Analytical skills. Students will be able to review a movie based on narrative and structure.

➢ Basic knowledge of animation techniques. Students will be able to recognise animation characteristics.

➢ Basic knowledge of colouring theory. Students will be able to understand the emotional effect and response that colour causes in the narrative and the viewers.

➢ Speaking, writing, and drawing skills. Students will be able to develop their creativity to better express themselves.

➢ Empathic skills. Students will be able to express their positive and negative comments while respecting other classmates’ opinions.

➢ Social skills. Students will be able to learn how to work in groups and how to establish solid communication through differences.


Age Group: 7-10 years old.

Class Duration: 72 minutes (12 minutes movie + 60 min lesson)

1- Start with an introduction and opening quote. (5 minutes)

2- Watch Tella (2021). (12 minutes)

3- Discuss with the students. (10 minutes)

4- Introduce the basics of Colour Theory. (5 minutes)

5- Answer questions in groups (2-4). (15 minutes)

6- Discuss the answers (5 minutes)

7- Ask students to engage in an individual activity (coloring). (15 minutes)

8- Discuss the drawings (5 minutes)

9- Inform homework assignments for the next class.

(In the case of an online class, the students can watch the movie on youtube before the class, and the teacher will divide them into break rooms for the group activity).


○ Computer and projector (to exhibit the film)

○ Drawing paper

○ Colouring supplies

During Class

Introduction and Opening Quote

Start the class by introducing the students to Tella (read the film information above) and some basic definitions of what animation is (principles and different styles) in a PowerPoint presentation. (Check references below for this).

The students watch the movie.


After the screening, encourage them to express their opinions:

● Do they like the film?

● What do they think the film is about?

● Is there was anything that called for their attention.

Gather their first impressions and show the students that their opinions are valid.

Colour Theory

Direct the answers toward the theme of the class by asking about their knowledge of color. Then, show a small PowerPoint presentation of some aspects of color theory, like the meaning of each color and how they can influence a scene.

Group Activity

After the introduction to the meaning of the colors and the theories behind it, the students will be divided into groups of 2 to 4 students to answer 3 questions: One about the structure, one about the narrative, and one about the colours. After that, the students will show their answers to the rest of the class to discuss them together.


● Did the style of the film affect the narrative? Why do you think that?

● What would you do if you were the girl? Would you also help the star? Why?

● Think about the colors of the movie. Did they affect or impact you in any way? Why?

Discussion 2

Debate the answers with the class. Focus on promoting reflection about how the colors are related to the emotions of this animation. Bring inquiries like: Why do you think the director chose this colour to represent the girl? What about the star? Do you think the colours are compatible with their emotions?

Individual Activity

Students now will reflect individually on the relation of colour, emotion, and message.

This is the instruction:

● Choose a scene from the movie.

● Think about it: What kind of emotion do you want to express in this scene?

● Paint the scene with the colours you associate with your thinking.

Discussion 3

Once they are done, ask who wants to show their drawing to the rest of the class and select two to three students. Ask the others what message they see in the drawings, and what are their opinions. Then ask the student what he wanted to portray. The final consideration should highlight how the medium affects our interpretation of a story.


Students should bring to the next class a drawing from an animated film of their choice, and explain the importance of the colours in the scene they chose.  

Pre-Class Reading Material and References (For the teacher only, as a background to prepare for the class).

Brown, Noel. Contemporary Hollywood Animation: Style, Storytelling, Culture and Ideology since the 1990s. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2021, doi:10.1515/9781474410571

Fine, Aaron. Color Theory: A Critical Introduction. Bloomsbury Visual Arts, London; New York; 2022.

McLuhan, Marshall, et al. The Medium Is the Massage. Gingko Press, 2001.