Teaching Setting using Short Films for Kids

Teaching Setting using Short Films for Kids

Using animated short films for kids is a great way to motivate students to learn. The animated short The Box is based on actual events that are taking place in Syria. The film is meant to educate the world about the Syrians’ struggles. 

Be sure to get the handout. It includes the printables you need to complete some of the activities.

Comparing Stories with Short Films

The Box Story

The Box is a 2D animated short film about a Syrian family escaping the violence and destruction of war. The film tells the story through powerful visuals depicting the horrors of war and the despair of those caught in its crosshairs. The film has no dialogue, relying solely on its visuals and music to convey its message.

This film begins light-heartedly, with a young child happily playing with a cardboard box. The mood swiftly changes when war comes close. Once bombs hit the child’s home, the boy is alone except for his pet cat.

The box that was once a playhouse turns into the boy’s shelter in a refugee camp. The film flashes through a series of scary scenes at the refugee camp. The people look sad. Children are eating leaves and taking baths in tubs while bombs explode nearby.

During a wind storm, the box blows away, causing the boy to dash for his shelter. He catches up with the box, folds it into a square, and walks away from the refugee camp. The boy walks for endless hours, carrying the box. At one point, the boy imagines his parents are near but soon realizes they are just figments of his imagination.

Once the boy reaches the sea, he refolds the box into a boat. The mood is sad as the boy’s cat refuses to get into the boat with him. The film ends with the hope that the boy will sail in his cardboard boat to safety.

Animated Short The Box

The Box Compare and Contrast Activity

  • Video Links
    A page with links for finding the film
  • Two Activities
    • Students describe the setting and its relevance to the story of the film.
    • Students compare the video The Box to the novel Refugee on the next organizer.
  • Answer Keys
  • Google Slides Version
    You will also find a link to the Google Slides version of the organizers.

If you missed the link above, here it is again.

Animated Short Film The Box
Play Video about Animated Short Film The Box
Animated Short The Box

Syria Today

A civil war occurred between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad and various domestic and foreign forces opposing the Syrian government.

In 2000, al-Assad became president. He rules the country like a dictator. As the people in Syria became unhappy with his power, protests demanding a democratic government led the country started. These events have caused a chain reaction of al-Assad killing people who speak against him, causing more and more citizens to fight against al-Assad.

More than 250,000 people have died, and millions have fled their homes.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee is a historical fiction novel by Alan Gratz. It follows the journeys of three children from different eras and places who are forced to flee their homes because of war, persecution, and violence. Josef is a Jewish boy who escapes Nazi Germany in 1938 on a ship bound for Cuba but faces the threat of being sent back. Isabel is a Cuban girl who leaves her country in 1994 on a makeshift raft, hoping to reach the United States, but encounters storms and sharks. Mahmoud is a Syrian boy who fled his war-torn homeland in 2015 with his family, seeking refuge in Europe but facing dangers and obstacles. 

Refugee by Alan Gratz Novel Study
Play Video about Refugee by Alan Gratz Novel Study

Both The Box and Refugee explore the theme of survival in the face of trauma and displacement and the struggles of refugees fleeing their homes due to conflict and violence. They show how war affects children and families in different ways. However, “The Box” focuses on one specific family and one specific conflict, while “Refugee” covers a broader range of characters and conflicts.

The Box uses animation to create a visual impact, while Refugee uses words to make an emotional impact.

Overall, The Box and Refugee both offer powerful and moving accounts of the experiences of refugees through different mediums and approaches.

Gay Miller

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