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Recycling Old Filmstrips: A Fun Classroom Activity

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 4/5/2012

With advancing technology, schools find that they have literally hundreds of no-longer used filmstrips lying around. Don't throw them away...recycle them by allowing students to create their own media presentations! This article will show you a unique way for creating a filmstrip by kids.

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    Materials

    • An old filmstrip from your school's media center. (If you are unable to locate actual filmstrips, have a role of 35mm film developed blank. Do not have the negatives cut.)
    • Household Bleach
    • Tape
    • Marking Pens, either permanent or water-soluble. (They must, however, be made for use on overheads and film. Brands such as Sharpie or Vis-A-Vis work well.)
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    The Cutting Room Floor

    1. In a well-ventilated area, pour 3 cups of household bleach into a bucket. Soak the filmstrip for 1-3 minutes. You will be able to watch the old pictures and printing disappear! If you are working with younger students, you will want to do this step for them. You can still have them participate by watching!

    2. After the film has been immersed in the bleach, rinse it with water and hang to dry. The film should be ready to use after about 10 minutes.

    3. Lay the film on a table or hard floor. Taping both ends down is an excellent idea. It will allow students to work freely around the strip. When removing the tape, be sure to take precautions so that the film does not tear.

    4. Have each student practice what they are drawing on a separate piece of paper first. This will reduce the likelihood of errors. Remind students that when it comes time to transfer their drawing onto the film, they will only have about a 1"x1" square to work within. For younger students, you may want to provide them with a sample-sized square to practice drawing in.

    5. Use a ruler to partition these 1"x1" squares for each student. Be sure to leave at least an 8" leader at the beginning and the end of the film. This will help you thread the film into the machine, and then remove it when you are finished.

    6. You are now ready to draw! Remember to instruct your students to be careful. Film tears easily!

    7. For a more professional look to your media project, try making a voice-recording to accompany the film or adding a music track to your presentation.

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    This beginning look at how to make a film using old filmstrips provides your students with the unique opportunity of exploring media not typically found in the classroom of today. When you are finished, sit back, pop some popcorn and enjoy the student-made creations!