I love that books like Not Now Bernard by David McKee, which featured so heavily in my own childhood, are still going strong today. They just have a timeless quality about them. However, it wasn’t until recently when I looked at the story through an adult’s eyes that I realised the seemingly simple narrative is actually quite dark. Poor old Bernard gets completely ignored (you could say neglected even) by his parents which leads to him being eaten by a monster. It was then that I thought about using it as the stimulus for a p4c enquiry. I should mention at this point, that when doing the enquiry I found a perfect little animated version of the story on YouTube. Now, the internet being what it is, it’s sadly gone. So I’m afraid all I can share with you is the link to the Amazon page of the book. I’m pretty sure most primary schools have at least one copy of it knocking about though!
Questions the children came up with:
- How would you feel if someone ignored you?
- Why did Bernard’s parents ignore him?
- How would you feel if you had no friends?
- Why do children get neglected?
- Why do some parents treat children like rubbish?
Songs can make powerful stimuli for a p4c enquiry. Not only the lyrics, but also the melody of a song can really evoke strong reactions from children… and adults! Not so long ago, I wanted to do an enquiry about friendship so I got to thinking about songs that might work and Lean On Me came to mind. With its positive message and uplifting feel, it seemed like the perfect song for the job. I also had a version of it on one of my Glee CDs which was a bonus, no searching required!
However, here’s a little tip if you’re going to use a song as a stimulus: search for it on YouTube adding in the keyword ‘lyrics.’ Lots of people make videos where they add in the lyrics of a song, kind of like a karaoke version I guess! When using a song as a stimulus, I find it really useful for the children to be able to read the lyrics as the song plays. Otherwise it can be all too easy to listen to a song without paying attention to the lyrics. I should know, I do this all the time!
The first enquiry stimulus I’m going to share is one of my favourite that I’ve used so far. I just think it’s awesome. It’s a little animated movie called Veni Vidi Vici. It was created by two talented final year 3D Animation students at the University of Hertfordshire, Will Burdett and David Bryan.
There are several reasons why I think it works so well as a p4c enquiry stimulus:
- At just 3.28 minutes, it’s not too long
- The children found some parts very funny – not an essential stimulus requirement, but nice!
- There are TONS of themes that this cool little flick covers
That last point is so very true. Watch it and you’ll know where I’m coming from. The first time I saw it, the following themes popped into my head straight away: cheating, winning, physical strength vs. intelligence, being different, bullying, bravery and sportsmanship. Here are the questions my Year 4 class come up with after watching it (little heads up, the one in bold is the one that got the vote).
- When is it ok to cheat?
- How would you feel if people bullied you for being different?
- When is it ok to treat someone differently from yourself?
- Why is bravery important?
- What’s more important, physical strength or intelligence?
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think, how it went if you used the movie or even if you just want to say hi!
Veni Vidi Vici