A life in pictures;Lifetime

27th February 1998 at 00:00
History is happening around them all the time - but how do you bring this home to your pupils?

Take a journey through the 20th century with child film star Shirley Temple. Shirley, now a grandmother who celebrates her 70th birthday on April 23, rose to fame during the Great Depression of the Thirties before the Second World War.

Your pupils can also travel through the past, using photographs of their grandparents and parents to create their own picture stories about the lives of their loved ones.

Shirley Temple became a film star at the early age of three-and-a-half. By the age of six she was one of the biggest box-office attractions of the 1930s, receiving fan letters and gifts from around the globe. Like her film co-star Ronald Reagan, she later moved on to the world stage, in her case as a diplomat. Her last posting was as the US ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992.

Because Shirley Temple Black - her married name - was so famous, her life was well documented and there are many photographs taken at all stages of her life.

By looking at the photographs of her life, pupils can - * See how a pictorial narrative can be used to develop discussion, storytelling and writing * Be motivated to develop similar narratives based on their own lives and those of their close relatives and friends * Gain some insights into the nature of popular entertainment in the 1930s and 1940s * Imagine what was it like having to work hard on film sets with famous, adult stars from a young age.

Teaching points

Ask young pupils to write an account of a single day and they typically produce brief descriptions of isolated events: "I got up, I went to schoolI" To become fluent writers, children need to learn the idea of narrative - that a story or factual account does not merely list events but makes a coherent journey through them.Although their own reading is important, most pupils need some help and may find the concept quite difficult.

A sequence of pictures - such as the time-line on pages 22 and 23 - can be a powerful aid to understanding narrative. There can be two levels of approach: first, pupils can look at the sequence that has been provided; second, they go on to make their own sequence using the same materials. At both levels, the teacher will engage in discussion and provide a range of writing tasks. By using our picture narrative, pupils can do the following (it is important that each activity is proceeded by as much discussion as the teacher thinks fit) - * Look at the sequence of pictures and then write their own account of Shirley Temple's life, using information gleaned from the pictures and adding factual, or fictional, details of their own * Write down the advantages and disadvantages of being very rich and famous at a young age * Write a letter to the young Shirley Temple, giving her advice about the dangers of growing up in the spotlight of publicity * Write a speech the adult Shirley might have given in which she looks back at her life as a child star * Write a conversation between the adult Shirley and her own daughter in which they talk about her past.

Extension activities

Pupils can -

* Bring in photographs from home showing relatives at different stages of their lives.Give each a detailed caption, and extend this to write a connected biography * Mount the pictures and writing and display them with a time-line * Take each other's photographs and embark on picture stories of their own.

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