Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Show and Tell: Jemima + Johnny (1966)
Introduction Primary Primary (2) Citizenship English  
image from Jemima + Johnny (1966)
AuthorKatherine Roe
ThemesReading and writing

Jemima + Johnny tackles some adult themes yet, at heart, it is a film with a simple message and one that is full of hope. As such, teachers should not shy away from using it with older Primary students who are similar in age to the eponymous protagonists. The suggestions below are for a number of different speaking and listening activities.

Some students might find it disconcerting to watch an extract or series of extracts instead of the entire short film, however, there are plenty of ways to help students focus their thinking and engage with the story. Ask them to concentrate on a number of different categories as they watch - making brief notes under the following headings (Cs and Ss): Character, Story, Setting (ie. location - interior or exterior etc.), Camera (different types of shots - ie. close ups, wide shots, point of view shots) and Sound. This should provide a solid basis for any discussion after the film as well as any further activity. For more support on using films in the Primary classroom, see the free BFI guide Look Again.

You may prefer to narrow the focus a little and, if this is the case, the film could form the basis of a simple language exercise. Ask students to generate words and phrases to describe Johnny and Jemima's individual personalities and/or their feelings in a particular extract - explaining what elements of the film led them to choose specific adjectives. These ideas can be collected into two simple 'word-trees' - one for each character - that encourage students to extend their vocabulary. If students need more support, you might try pausing the video and leading a discussion around a selection of 'freeze frames'.

Developing this further, why not ask students to think about the differences between Johnny and Jemima's characters by coming up contrasting descriptive words that fit the two children? All of these extracts in some way highlight Johnny's self-assuredness on his home-turf while suggesting Jemima's hesitancy in the face of her new surroundings.

Jemima + Johnny is almost entirely void of dialogue - a fact which most children will find surprising, given the reliance on dialogue in most TV and film. However, this can be presented as a challenge - can students work in pairs to imagine how Jemima and Johnny might talk to each other? You might ask students to generate some dialogue between the two to include in a short scene; for example, when Johnny takes Jemima to his den (extract: Johnny's den). Or, why not ask students to invent an 'off camera' scene of their own; for example, a conversation between Jemima and Johnny immediately after leaving the chip shop (extract: First Meeting).

Finally, it's important to confront the ongoing suggestion of racial tension that permeates the 'adult world' of this film (students would need to watch all of the extracts to understand this theme). Do students notice the 'Keep Britiain White' sign that is held by Johnny's father in the first extract? What do students think that the director is trying to say by centring the action around two children of different races? It might be a good idea for students to think about the idea of 'similarity' in pairs before sharing their ideas with the rest of the class. What similarities do they share with other members of their class? How does the director emphasise the similarities between Jemima and Johnny?

Next Page >