Watching film with young children

How to select a film title, and how to present it with an audience of 3-6 year olds.

Watching film

1. Selecting the film

    Carefully reflect about the following:

  • Age

    The younger the audience, the more simple, visual and short the film must be. The Danish Film Institute selects titles suitable for 3+ and 5+. Titles suitable for the youngest, might also work for the elder group 5+, but often not the other way round.

  • Theme

    Make sure that the story is easy to understand and that the theme is relevant from the perspective of a child at the age of 3-6. The theme could be friendship, animals, climate, nature, birthdays, festive seasons, toys and other kind of pre-school concerns.

Images, sounds and cinematic form
  • Images, sounds and cinematic form

    Be sure that the audio-visual style and effects are suitable for the youngest children. Film is a powerful medium that evokes strong emotions. Even modest cinematic effects can affect the audience. Preferably, the film should contain humorous or fanciful element and be more light than dark. Most preschool children are curious about abstract and lyrical images and stories.

You might also need to select more than one title, that together make up a complete short film programme with a total duration of 30-45 minutes. Most films for young children are animation films, but see if you can also find live-action films or documentary films – to secure diversity in your programme.

If you do not have direct access to a curated online or DVD library/catalogue of films that are suitable for young children, you will have to go and find the titles, most likely on the internet. You might want to search on Youtube. You will be able to find a number of - especially animated – suitable shorts that are available for use, free of charge. You can google some of the international film festivals for children, and see what kind of titles they present in their festival programme. The latter is probably mostly an option for organizations, who aim to programme their own events.

To find films is a challenging task. Sometimes you have to see many films, to find one title that you like and that suits the young audience – but you will get there!

2. Presenting the film

Once the children are seated, you can start by briefly and simply describing the story of the film and highlighting the most important characters, etc. This will help the children understand the film.

Then you tell them what will happen during the screening: that you are going to turn down the lights and that the film might include loud noises or music. You also tell them that after the screening you will talk with them about the film.

Eventually you can urge them to pay attention to colours, music, characters – especially if you let them see the film more than once.


Have you seen, or used short films that have worked well with young viewers (who might be your own children, as well as those you teach)? Share your thoughts and add any links or films to the Padlet below.

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