Lessons from the media: Monty the Penguin

This is a guest post from Hélène Fyffe, an undergraduate starting her final year at Edinburgh Napier University, having spent a year on placement with Microsoft UK Education as part of her course.

As stated in my post last week, I'm going to dedicate a series of blogs to illuminating ideas for class exercises for the upper end of Primary based on popular occurrences and productions in the media. In each blog I'll suggest a particular technology platform, for example an Office 365 in Education app that I think would be a fun medium to make the exercises really engaging for the students.

As was previously discussed, research has shown that it can be really stimulating for young people to carry out learning exercises on topics that are relevant and interesting to them. With that in mind, today's blog is going to point primary teachers in the direction of a new television advert that should perk up a class on a Monday morning.

First topic..

As we're now beginning to see the first frosty mornings and glimpses of smoke curl from chimneys whose cosy fires provide comfort in the cold evenings, I think it's befitting to kick start the series with the latest John Lewis Christmas advert, Monty the Penguin.

For those of you who haven't yet been acquainted, the advert spells a beautifully poignant story of a little boy whose imaginary penguin friend Monty is wistfully aware of his loneliness in life, and is saved by the boy who wishes for a female penguin companion for Monty for Christmas (thanks to John Lewis of course).

I anticipate that Monty the Penguin is rapidly going to become much loved by young people and will therefore be a great piece of work to base an exercise on in the classroom.


(John Lewis, 2014)

Advertising and Emotional Value

Media adverts could be a great tool for analytical exercises even at Primary level as their purpose is to elicit certain emotions in an audience, which could be exploited into teaching exercises that would encourage learners to form their own interpretations of the content and exercise their analytical skills.

Through the mediums of music, visual aids and a poignant story line, Monty the Penguin stirs the heart strings of its audience and truly enchants us.


So enough with the background, how can Monty the Penguin help young primary learners to blossom their skills?

I'll now suggest a technology platform and examples of potential questions teachers could ask their class and will illustrate what skills each question would be helping to develop:

Firstly, here is a link to the YouTube video of Monty the Penguin for you to play in class.

An individual written exercise will give your students the opportunity to articulate their thoughts and interpretations in writing in an individual environment where they can reflect. A fun way of lighting up the writing component of the exercise would be to ask your class to either individually or in groups use the new Office Sway app to answer the questions which they could then illustrate with pictures, ready to present to the class.

The presentation element of the exercise will help your students to develop their confidence in speaking in front of peers, and might also give them a taste of the subjective nature of different people's interpretations.

Here are some suggestions of questions that could be asked:

· Describe the advert (enables the class to practice summarising visual content into written English)

· What does the advert make them feel? (this will encourage the learners to begin to think about the deeper meaning behind the advert)

· How does the music make them feel? (this will get the pupils to pinpoint the mood of the advert and to appreciate the impact of music on emotions )

· What did they like most about the advert? (by picking their favourite aspect, the learners will draw on the strengths of the advert )

· What did they not like about the advert? (Focusing on a negative aspect will introduce the concept of balanced arguments)

· What did they think the message of the story was? (students will have the opportunity to communicate their own interpretation of Monty the penguin in writing)

We'd love to hear your class examples so leave a comment below.

Make sure to look out for the next 'Lessons from the media' blog!

Comments (1)

  1. Clare says:

    Lovely ideas which I look forward to adapting and using in literacy with my year 3 class!

Skip to main content