Video Writing Prompt: Monsters University

If you or your students loved Monsters, Inc., then Pixar animation has a treat for you. On June 21, the studio is releasing a prequel to its animated hit, called Monsters University. Whether the film will live up to the original remains to be seen—but there's no doubt that the marketing campaign has been entertaining.

This video writing prompt helps students think about higher education and explore literary techniques used in writing and filmmaking.


K-2: Everyone Needs an Education

In Monsters University, we find out that even monsters have to go to school. What kind of classes do you think monsters might take? Draw or write to show them.

3-5: What's a "Prequel"?

A "prequel" is a book, movie, or other story that is supposed to go before a story that already exists. In Monsters University, we learn the story of how the two friends in the movie Monsters, Inc. met for the first time. Sometimes a prequel is made because people are interested in what happened to a character before a movie began.

Think of a film you like. Imagine a "prequel" for one of the characters in that film. Are you curious about what Mary Poppins was like before she met the Banks family? Do you want to know what games Woody the cowboy played before Buzz Lightyear showed up? Write a few sentences to tell what movie you choose and what you want the prequel to tell you.

6-8: The College Experience

This advertisement takes the form of a "message from the dean" of the university shown in the film. Think about what you would want if you were going to college next year. Does this video make "Monsters University" look like a good place to go to school? Write a paragraph to explain why or why not.

9-12: Epistolary Filmmaking

An "epistolary novel" is a novel that's written as a series of letters between characters in the story. Over time, the term has grown to encompass stories that take the form of journals, public records, transcripts, and other kinds of "real life" writing. We see similar techniques used in film and TV. This advertisement, for example, takes the form of a message from the dean of the fictional "Monsters University" to future students.

Think of a favorite film of yours. Then, write a one-page letter from the perspective of one of the characters in the film. Make sure to address it, sign it, and date it like a real letter. Think: Who is the character writing to? What events in the film do they want to talk about? What are their thoughts and feelings on what's happened? What do they know, and what don't they know?


Having trouble with the video? Check it out at the link below.

Monsters University

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