Fourth graders learn movie making at Picture House, use skills on Ellis Island films


PELHAM PICTURE HOUSE — The Colonial School fourth graders had the opportunity to experience the hard work that goes behind the scenes in movie making. The fourth grade students visited the Pelham Picture House three consecutive weeks every Wednesday.

The theme for the first week was acting out your expressions. Students were given ideas to express. For example, you acted as if you had a cute, little chick in your hands or a big, heavy box that you needed to lift. They also thought about three to five things they would bring if they were going to America on short notice. They also acted out who would they be and what they would do if they were an immigrant.

The second week was focused on stop-motion animation. The class was split into two groups. One of the groups recorded lines to a poem about freedom, the Statue of Liberty and coming to America. The other group learned stop-motion animation, which is using a bunch of still pictures to make a moving video. Afterwards, the two groups switched activities.

In the third week, the students marched into the Picture House dressed as immigrants coming from all over the world. They would be making and acting in a silent film. The movie would include scenes explaining the tough times on a boat, as well as how people reacted after they got rejected to enter America after coming all that way or if they had to go into quarantine. Some movies were dramatic. For example, in 4H’s movie, their boat sunk and all immigrants had to swim to Ellis Island.

“I liked the silent movie making the best because it was fun to get a sense of how to make a real movie, and it was fun acting in it,” said Ella Miller (4H). “I got to see how difficult and challenging it can be to express oneself without speaking in front of camera. I tried to pretend that I am that person. It was also hard not to put my back to the camera.”

Now it was the Picture House’s turn to come to Colonial for screenwriting. Students were given the task of writing a script related to immigrants and the difficult times they faced on their voyage to America.

All the students thoroughly enjoyed the Picture House experience.

“I liked the silent movie making because I felt like I was actually the immigrant I was dressed as,” said Maila McLellan (4M).

Caroline Michailoff (4M) said, “I liked the first week because I enjoyed doing the expressions.”