This is a Warm Up activity that the kids will love and remember for awhile. When explaining the mood that's created in a piece of literature, or in this case, a movie trailer, watching and listening will be very effective.
The class will watch two movie trailers. The first is the original trailer for Toy Story- an upbeat, feel good movie with an upbeat, feel good trailer. Most of the kids have seen the movie so they'll enjoy the little trip down memory lane. After they watch the trailer, quickly brainstrom some of the adjectives that describe the mood.
The second is a re-cut version of Toy Story. This version will show how easily the mood of the movie can be changed through effects. As soon as it starts, it's evident that the mood has changed drastically between versions. As before, brainstorm the adjectives that describe this new one. Understanding mood has never been so easy!
*If you're so inclined, you may want to show "Scary Mary" which is a re-cut version of Mary Poppins. I originally wanted to use it, but figured that all of the kids have seen Toy Story and many may not know about Mary Poppins. I still showed it to my kids at the end of the lesson for fun. It truly looks like a Hitchcock movie.
After the concept of Mood has been established, they identify it in the text. What kind of mood is created by the narrator, Karana, in the following excerpts from the Island of the Blue Dolphins?
1) "In the middle of the circle was Ramo. He was lying on his back, and had a deep wound in his throat. He lay very still."
2) "The dogs did not come to the camp during the time I was making the weapons, though every night I could hear them howling."
3) "The morning was fresh from the rain. The smell of the tide pools was strong. Sweet odors came from the wild grasses in the ravines and from the sand plants on the dunes. I sang as I went down the trail to the beach and along the beach to the sandspit. I felt that the day was an omen of good fortune.
4) "It was a good day to begin my new home."
After determining each of the moods, put the students in pairs where they will participate in a mock interview using the above questions or ones they create. This technique is a great way for the students to empathize and share in Karana's mood.
Student One is the Interviewer, Student Two is Karana. Student One conducts an interview as if Karana has just been rescued. The interviewer asks questions to establish the mood. Student Two responds. They may switch places so each has a chance to experience and express her mood.
Ask the kids what kind of a mood they're in today. After a number of adjectives have been rattled off and written on the board, tell them to use their feelings to write a short poem about that mood. Poetry's such a natural way for kids to express their moods. As they do this, the components they practiced during the lesson solidify, and the element of Mood in literature makes perfect sense. They may use any kind of poem style they'd like, and the words on the board may be helpful.
As always, some will enjoy sharing their poems.