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Box of Delights: Ballad of the Battered Bicycle, The (1947)
In the Classroom

Some suggestions on how to use this title in the classroom and where it fits in to the curriculum.


QCA Unit 8: How do rules and laws affect me? (Year 3-6)

Showing The Ballad of the Battered Bicycle provides perfect stimulus for Section 1: Why do we need rules?

Watch the film together and pause it after Henry's bike 'dies' under the wheels of the bus. Ask the children how the film demonstrates why we need rules. Discuss how the people in Henry's local community were affected when he didn't ride his bike safely. Children could work in pairs to role play a conversation between two people in Henry's town who were upset by his reckless riding. How did Henry's riding affect their rights?

Watch the rest of the film together where we see Henry in court. Talk about what happens to people when they break rules and how the court process works. Discuss the laws we have in place today to prevent people from driving their cars recklessly and reflecting on Henry's character talk about why some people might still drive dangerously.

This is also a wonderful film to show children who are embarking on cycling proficiency courses!

Curriculum links

  • NC Citizenship objectives: 1a, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 4a


Primary Framework for Literacy Poetry Unit 1: Poems to perform (Year 3)

Before watching the film ask the children to read the title, which poetic device is used to make it catchy? Watch the film together.

Watch the first sequence of the film (set in the fairground) again, pause it before the story starts: how is the showman narrating the story?

I'll tell you now a sorry tale of sorrow and of woe,
Of a wicked crime committed not so long ago,
Come along young gentlemen, stand anywhere you like,
And gaze upon the picture of where Henry found his bike.

Help the children to identify the rhyming couplet rhyme scheme. Read this passage together a few times and see if you can identify the rhythm in the passage.

Talk about what sort of character Henry was before he went to court. Encourage the children to write their own short poems about well behaved children or children who sometimes behave badly. Explore nursery rhymes that use rhyming couplets to tell the story of a character in just a few lines (e.g. Humpty Dumpty) or that describe children (e.g. There was a little girl) to help stimulate ideas.

When the children are ready to perform their poems they should watch the film again to get tips on delivery - intonation, speed, volume etc.

Primary Framework for Literacy Narrative Unit 1: Stories with historical settings (Year 4)

This film supports Phase 1: Reading and response of the unit above where children watch a short extract from a TV drama set in the past.

Watch The Ballad of the Battered Bicycle then replay it, pausing it several times to allow the children to study single shots. Look carefully at each shot and identify props, costumes and other parts of the setting that indicate that this story was filmed in 1945.

Curriculum links

Primary Framework for Literacy

Year 3

1. Speaking
Choose and prepare poems or stories for performance, identifying appropriate expression, tone, volume and use of voices and other sounds

4. Drama
Identify and discuss qualities of others' performances, including gesture, action, costume

7. Understanding and interpreting texts
Explore how different texts appeal to readers using varied sentence structures and descriptive language

8. Engaging and responding to texts
Identify features that writers use to provoke readers' reactions

Year 4

2. Listening and responding
Compare the different contributions of music, words and images in short extracts from TV programmes.

9. Creating and shaping texts
Use settings and characterisation to engage reader's interest