A downtime activity sounds like a contradiction in terms. However, how do you persuade the active body and mind of a child with high learning potential (HLP) to rest a little when they constantly crave a challenge in order to maintain equilibrium? Many children may be more motivated to slow down for a while if they feel they are simultaneously engaging in a meaningful project.

Usually there will be a movie each young person is keen to watch; anything from the latest release to a fact-based drama or full-length documentary. Link watching a film to an on-going project that grabs their attention. In this way, restless children can benefit from an in-depth yet fluid learning experience – giving you as teacher, home-educator or parent some valuable time for necessary paperwork (and coffee!)

As always, make sure the film is appropriate to their age and sensibilities. However, don’t reject a theme that seems ‘a waste of time’. Even busy HLP brains need to chill out and by integrating viewing into a wider project, any lack of ‘educational’ content in a film becomes much less important.

So, explain that yes, they can watch the film and alongside it they are to choose their own follow-on activity/activities such as the following…

Inspired by the chosen film ask them to:

  • Identify some key words
  • Integrate these key words into a picture or poem
  • Compose a song or jingle that describes or advertises the film. (Possibly using the key words.)
  • Create a ‘billboard’ advertisement poster
  • Write an advertising ‘trailer’ for the film that not only describes it but attracts an audience
  • Dig around and document the ‘making of’ the movie
  • Research the computer coding, film-making techniques or post-production technologies used in their favourite scene
  • Estimate the budget for actors, producers, costumes, effects, props…
  • Find the box office figures that show revenues and take a note of any advertising or in-movie product placement
  • Historical setting; what is it? Are the details accurate? Why? What would they add?
  • Geographical setting; what is it? Was it filmed on location? Why/not? Are the details accurate?
  • Create a blog or vlog taking the reader through the story in real time
  • Identify the main characters; what might happen next?

If you wish to build on the film-making theme, challenge them to explore the video editing software that came with the computer or other free apps and downloads such as https://filmora.wondershare.com/ For iOS and macOS, the proprietary choice would be https://www.apple.com/imovie/ However, beginners, YouTubers and social media fans on both Apple and Microsoft can opt for the free version of VideoPad Video Editor at https://www.nchsoftware.com/videopad/ or the popular HitFilm Express https://fxhome.com/express

Some children are overstimulated by screen time, so for them it may be more appropriate to substitute reading, meditating or doing Sudoku, for example. In these cases, instead of applying the above ideas to an actor or film-making, adapt them to areas such as:

  • Reading: the author; illustrator; linguistic aspects; illustration style; the economics of book publishing and distribution; the impact of working with or without famous franchises or licence agreements.
  • Meditation: the mood created by the book or audio recording guiding the meditation; the illustrative style; choice of voice-over artist; underlying spiritual or secular philosophy; mental and physical health benefits.
  • Sudoku: key puzzle creators; publishers up to the modern day; the World Sudoku Championship; how competition prize funds interdepend on advertising, for example.