In this lesson, the children explore how older people are portrayed in the media.
The overall aim of the theme I am like you is to enable the child to:
The objectives of this lesson are to enable the child to:
Several days in advance of the lesson, ask the children to watch out for older characters in TV programmes and ads and to think about older people in books and films they have read or seen, in preparation for this lesson. Ideally, spread this lesson over a few days or weeks, allowing one discussion per session.
For Activity 8 in this lesson, you may wish to print the stories Oisín in Tír na nÓg and The Children of Lir, for you to read to the class or to give a copy to each child.
Stories from long ago
My favourite TV
A TV programme
Create a TV advertisement
My favourite book
Newspapers and magazines
Oisín and the Children of Lir
|Online activities||Pop-up facts||The media|
Mrs. Burke's birthday
Films we've seen
Design an advertisement
Older people in print
Design a birthday card
Older people in my English reader
Activity 1: Discussion - My favourite TV programme
Write the phrase "My favourite TV programme" on the blackboard. Ask children to name their favourite TV programme and list some of the most popular on the blackboard.
Ask the children about their parents'/grandparents' favourite TV programmes. List some of the most popular on the blackboard. If some children have no idea what older people watch on TV, encourage them to ask their grandparents or an older person they know after school.
Discuss some of the best-known programmes, with questions such as:
Because the programmes are aimed at children and the programme makers might think that children aren't interested in older characters. Make the point that, in reality, older people are an integral part of life.
Some soaps have older characters who are portrayed as bad-humoured, awkward, dependent, interfering and so on. Older characters on TV, especially in soaps, tend to be one-dimensional or based on popular stereotypes of older people. When discussing the children's answers, make the point that in real life, older people, like everyone else, are complex individuals.
If possible, focus the discussion on a programme or an episode of a programme that most of the children in the class watch, in preparation for the role-play in Activity 2 in this lesson.
Ask the children to talk to an older person about the protrayal of older people in TV programmes - see the Online activities, in Things to do, Activity 1 which describes this activity.
Activity 2: Role-play - A TV programme
Choose a recent episode of a children's programme or a soap that portrayed older people negatively. You may wish to record an episode yourself and play some of it for the class. Ensure that several of the children in the class saw the episode and that many are familiar with the series. From those who saw the episode, select one to tell the story as it happened. Then, allow another child to retell the story to portray the older person or people in a more positive way. Allow a group of children to role-play the positive version of the episode.
Some points worth making:
Activity 3: Discussion - TV ads
Ask children to name the TV ads that come to mind immediately, or their favourite TV ads. List some of the best-known on the blackboard.
Ask about the ads:
Ads for soft drinks usually show young people having fun - but older people drink soft drinks also. Ads for shampoo, shaving accessories and so on, usually show younger people, even though older people use these products also. Ads for cars don't usually show older people, even though older people buy and drive cars. Make the point that ads rarely show older people unless the product is targeted at older people, because product manufacturers consider older people financially limited, less adventurous and unwilling to try new products.
There are lots of older people around us in the real world, but very few are shown on TV ads. Make the point that many older people are active, independent, adventurous and decision-makers, but TV ads that do portray older people don't often show them this way. TV ads often show older people as dependent, passive, inactive, or reminiscing.
Activity 4: Role-play - Create a TV ad
Help the children to form groups of 4. Appoint a leader for each group. Allow five minutes for the groups to plan a TV ad for a popular product. Pick a product that can be used by people of all ages. The ad should include older people in a realistic way. Allow 1-2 minutes for each group to role-play their ad for the class.
Note that in the Online activities, Things to do, Activity 3 is based around designing an advertising poster.
Activity 5: Discussion - My favourite book
Ask children to name favourite books and list some of the most popular.
Ask about the books:
Children's books may not feature older characters at all. However, there are some interesting books for children with older people as main characters that portray a very balanced view of older people and contribute to developing a positive attitude among children to ageing (see the Online activities, Things to do, Activity 4 for some examples).
If some of the children have read books that feature older characters, suggest that they bring them to school to show or lend to other children, or to read in class. Note that in the Online activities, Things to do, Activity 4 lists books for the children to read and review. After children have completed the book reviews, follow with discussions on the books.
Activity 6: Discussion - Newspapers and magazines
Ask the children about the newspapers and magazines that their parents read. Do the newspapers have articles about older people? What magazines do they read? Do the magazines have pictures of older people? (Picture magazines such as Hello are good.)
Sometimes newspapers and magazines don't use appropriate language when describing older people, for example, references to "old girls" or "old fellows", use of phrases such as "mutton dressed as lamb", "past it", "over the hill". Make the point that older people can dress as they please, just like everyone else, and age does not automatically mean lack of physical or mental ability.
Read the following extract from a newspaper article to the class:
Mary Burke was one hundred years young last week. Yesterday, the Lord Mayor of Ballyhill presented her with a gift in honour of her big day. Mrs. Burke lives in a nursing home and the Lord Mayor visited her there to present the gift. The nursing home matron served tea while the Lord Mayor chatted with the birthday girl. A photographer from the local newspaper took a photo of Mrs. Burke with the other golden oldies.
Discuss the way that Mrs. Burke is described:
Make the point that referring to older people as though they were children implies that they need to be looked after or are incapable of adult behaviour. Using these phrases is a subtle way of diminishing the status of older people, because it implies rather than states that older people are helpless.
In the Online activities, Have a go, Activity 7 is a worksheet based on this newspaper article and Things to do, Activity 5 encourages the children to find out how older people are portrayed in magazines.
Activity 7: Discussion - Birthdays
Ask the children about birthdays:
Ask the children about birthday cards:
Make the point that jokes about getting older, losing strength, losing physical or mental ability imply that these losses are automatically associated with getting older and that therefore getting older is not a good thing. Birthday messages that celebrate the wisdom and experience increasing with age would be more encouraging.
In the Online activities, Have a go, Activity 8 is a worksheet on birthday cards.
Activity 8: Stories from long ago - Oisín and the Children of Lir
Tell or read the stories of Oisín and the Children of Lir. The class may already be familiar with these stories and you may prefer to use the versions of the stories that they are familiar with. However, click here for an online version of each story, if required:
Discuss the stories, both legends from long ago. In both stories, we see mixed feelings about old age:
There are 6 multiple choice questions in the Online activities, in Have a Go about the stories of Oisín in Tír na nÓg and the Children of Lir.
This lesson provides opportunities for many cross-curricular activities and links directly to the curriculum for primary schools as follows:
|SPHE||Myself and the wider world||Media education|
|English||Developing cognitive abilities through language||Reading|
The key questions for this lesson include: