When it comes to the endless challenge of providing our children with exposure in the minority language, short-term projects can be a very productive way of enhancing our usual daily efforts.
Examples of short-term projects include: making videotaped interviews or “dramatic” films; creating a picture book or comic book; writing and performing a short play; singing and recording a favorite song (even making up your own); inventing a new game and playing it together; compiling a photo album and adding captions; pursuing crafts or a building task; researching and reporting on some subject of interest; and many more.
One mother even pursued a year-long project by sending a stuffed alligator on a worldwide trip where it enjoyed “homestays” with a number of families in different countries who reported on their experiences. She and her two children blogged all about the alligator’s adventures—in both of their languages—and it turned out to be a really fun and effective project. To learn more about it, see How a Globe-Trotting Alligator Helped One Family Find Greater Fun and Success On Their Bilingual Journey.
Well, although my daily efforts have been quite proactive and persistent for many years, it’s also true that I haven’t really taken advantage of the potential of short-term projects to the extent I could. For a long time I wanted to pursue a film project with my kids, which would not only enable us to engage in using the minority language together to execute the project, it could produce a fun result—a little movie starring their childhood selves—that they would fondly remember, and laughingly view, for the rest of their lives.
“Purple Monster in the Woods”
As a child, I once wielded an old Super 8 movie camera and made a number of small movies that starred family and friends, and those times—and the silly films they produced—are among the highlights of my childhood. These experiences were so positive, in fact, that my first major in college was Film. (My focus then shifted to Theater and I spent around a decade in children’s theater before turning my attention to working with bilingual children.)
Because my kids had no school for the past two weeks—it was their spring break between the old school year and new school year in Japan—I was determined to at last realize this film project. As Lulu was now entering sixth grade, I was afraid I no longer had many chances to capture her on film as a silly, free-spirited child, without the self-consciousness that can come with adolescence.
So the other day we did it. We spent the day planning and filming “on location” near our house in Hiroshima, Japan, then I edited the footage, with their input. The result is this short film (running about 3 minutes) which we’re now excited to “premiere” at Bilingual Monkeys: “Purple Monster in the Woods.”
We hope you and your kids have fun viewing the outcome of our project. (Be sure to turn up your speakers for the full effect.) We intentionally made a movie that relies on action and sound, rather than language, so people everywhere can enjoy it. And if you do, please leave a comment below. I know Lulu and Roy would be thrilled to receive “reviews” from around the world!
You can also watch this film, along with other videos, at my YouTube channel.