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Show and Tell: Jemima + Johnny (1966)
Introduction Primary Primary (2) Citizenship English  
Primary (2)
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 film reading and writing activities.

The film uses almost no dialogue and while students might find the style a little challenging at first, it nonetheless offers an opportunity to highlight the importance of visual clues in both TV and film. Even though Jemima and Johnny never talk to each other, students can still learn a lot about their individual characters and their relationship. Hammer this point home by asking them to complete a number of 'sentence starters' after watching the extracts. For example:

  • Johnny and Jemima are friends. I can tell this because...
  • Johnny knows the neighbourhood well. I can tell this because...
  • The neighbourhood is unfamiliar to Jemima. I can tell this because...

For a more advanced writing activity, why not ask students to 'translate' a particular scene into a written piece; this might be purely descriptive or could be developed into a richer exercise that asks students to write from either Jemima or Jonny's perspective.

Alternatively, use the film as a starting point for a longer piece of creative writing. Why not ask children to imagine 'what happens next' and write an imaginative piece from either Johnny or Jemima's perspective once they have been found by their anxious parents in Johnny's den (extract: Johnny's den). Or, ask children to take a different character from the film - such as the man in the chip shop or the 'rag and bone' man - and construct a story around them.

Finally, why not ask students to think about the music in the film, particularly the piece used in the first extract, First meeting (about halfway through). How would students describe the music? What kind of mood does it create? Can they think about how music sets a tone in other films they have watched?

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