English KS2: Write a script

This short film presents a real-world context for writing a script and challenges children to write a short script for a TV show.

The presenter, Naomi Wilkinson is on the set studio of a popular CBBC show, a group of children are invited to take on the challenge of writing a short script for characters of their choice from the show.

Our ‘Master’ scriptwriter will add to the challenge by inviting the children to ‘show don’t tell’ , a golden rule of writing for the screen.

Using CBBC scripts as a guide, the children write their own short scenes, which are shared at the end of the film. You can download scripts from Children’s television shows from the BBC Writers room.

This short film is from the series Get Creative.

Teacher Notes

Before Watching

Talk to the children about their favourite TV shows. Ask them if they think there is anything different about writing a script to a story.

Share some of the scripts from the BBC Writers Room site or select some sections to show them.

You may want to create a class list of scriptwriting features to display as a reminder when children are writing.

After Watching

This activity can be done in groups, pairs or individually.

Give your students a few moments to pick the show and characters. Now, ask them to decide on a setting and scenario (ie. where is this scene and what is the drama?)

The suggestions in the film are a doctors surgery or grocery store, but encourage children to be as creative as they like.

Allow them 10-15 minutes to write (Cap the length of scene to 1-2 pages, tops). You may want to display the Thinking Questions to help guide the writing.

As an extra challenge invite them to incorporate the ‘Master Skill’.

Master Skill

The words ‘show don’t tell’ are used constantly in the writing world – put simply it means think visually and allow visuals to show you what is happening and how characters are feeling, rather than you as a writer telling the reader/ audience.

For example:
Susan was very scared.
Is more powerful when you show that feeling, rather than tell it.

In a story you might write:
Susan hesitated. Her breath quickened and her hand began to tremble.

In a script you would write this as action.
Susan hesitates. Her breath quickens and her hand begins to tremble.

Or you might include it as dialogue/ action.

Rather than:
Susan: I’m scared.

It would be more interesting to write:

Susan: (whispering) I don’t think we should go in there… we don’t know what we might find.

Discuss the concept of making your scripts more interesting and powerful by ‘showing not telling’ and having the characters put across their thoughts/ feelings without outwardly saying them.

You may want to model this with examples as above.

Thinking Questions

  • Who is in my scene?
  • Where is my scene?
  • How do the characters talk and interact with each other?
  • Where is the conflict or drama in my scene?
  • What are my characters thinking and feeling and how can I show this through their dialogue (without them saying outright)?

Supported Learning and SEN

The complexities of script-writing could be a lot for children who struggle with the written word to take on, however drama and spoken word can be a lot of fun and freeing for these children too. And thinking in terms of the visuals of a television show may appeal to those not usually enthused by written material.

There are many ways you could make this challenge more accessible for children, here are a few ideas:

  • Have the children improvise the scenes in pairs/ groups first.
  • Allow an adult or more abled peer to scribe for the group.
  • Consider recording the improvised scenes on a tablet, as a reminder for when they come to write, or as a way of taking writing out altogether.
  • Create a template with script layout and names already included.
  • Create a support sheet with spellings of names, difficult words.

Extend this Activity

Perform the scenes in a live showcase for parents/ assembly/ another class or just each other.
Film the scenes and make short movies – you could upload these to the school website.
Use the scenes to create another piece of writing – a short story, a news report.
Write a ‘How to Write A Script’ fact sheet, that can be kept for future reference or shared with other classes, or the school website.

Curriculum Notes

These short films are designed to support the teaching of creative writing for KS2 in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and 2nd level in Scotland.

In England the videos offer a chance to write with purpose in context, using the skills of notation and editing whilst also providing the opportunity to read work aloud and work towards mastery through developing specific key skills.

In Wales the videos provide an opportunity for students to write creatively with chances to adapt their writing for purpose, use a range of language skills, note ideas and plan their writing then reflect, redraft and improve their work.

In Northern Ireland the videos give students the opportunity to participate in independent or group writing, select, plan and adapt their writing for purpose, express thoughts and feelings through their imaginative compositions, experiment with language and practise the skills of revising and redrafting their compositions.

In Scotland the videos present students with an example of contextual writing to explore, from which they can create their own pieces of writing from notes, use appropriate vocabulary, language and style to engage their reader and check their writing for sense and purpose.

These films will help children to:

  • Participate in shared and independent creative writing.
  • Analyse the features of a specific writing style (scripts) and create their own.
  • Adapt writing to suit a purpose.
  • Use dialogue to convey character and further plot.

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