Posted 21/7/15
This videotelling activity makes use of a single still frame from a video. The video in question captured a fruity explosion and was created by high-speed photography.
  • Activity: Videotelling
  • Topic: YouTube entrepreneurs
  • Age group: Teens and adults
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Language level: B1 +
  • Language: Prepositional phrases
Splat pdf [downloaded 2211 times]

Videotelling text

Two young men are at work. They’re sitting at a small round table: Gavin’s on the left and Daniel’s on the right. They’re sitting opposite each other and they have their arms out in front of them. They have their eyes tightly shut.

There is a good reason why they have their eyes tightly shut: above the table, in the space between them, there are thousands of pieces of red flesh, green shell and drops of juice. This is the exact moment at which the watermelon exploded!

Gavin and Daniel used 500 identical, everyday objects to cause the watermelon to explode.

The video

This activity is based on a video titled Rubber bands versus watermelon. It was uploaded on YouTube in July 2012 and has been viewed over 12 million times to date.

The video was created by Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy, better known as the Slow Mo Guys. They use high-speed cameras to film events in extreme slow motion. These include bubbles bursting, a gun firing underwater, popcorn popping and a football-face collision.

Activity outline

  1. Give out paper and colour pencils and say: I want you to draw a picture. But don’t draw anything yet. First I want to describe a situation.
  2. Read aloud the first part of the story text two or three times. Speak clearly and slowly. When possible, use gesture to reinforce comprehension. You do not have to mention that you are describing a video at this stage.

  3. Two young men are at work. They’re sitting at a small round table: Gavin’s on the left and Daniel’s on the right. They’re sitting opposite each other and they have their arms out in front of them. They have their eyes tightly shut.

  4.  Say: OK, now you can draw your pictures.
  5. When students have finished drawing, ask: Why do you think they have their eyes tightly shut? What do they do for a living? In other words, what is their job? Can you guess?

  6. Possible answers include: Gavin and Daniel are wine tasters; they are trying to contact the dead; they work in an office and have fallen asleep at their desks. Correct or reformulate students’ language as necessary. In cases when they make use of their first language to express ideas, translate their words into English if possible and make use of bilingual dictionaries if not.

  7. Read aloud the second part of the story text two or three times. Stop before you mention the watermelon.

  8. There’s a good reason why they have their eyes tightly shut: above the table, in the space between them, there are thousands of pieces of red flesh, green shell and drops of juice.

  9. Ask: Can you explain? Something has has just exploded. [You can mime an explosion here.] Can you guess what?
  10. Tell students that the mystery object is a watermelon. Show them a picture to ensure comprehension.
  11. Say: Please add the red flesh, green shell and drops of juice to your drawings.
  12. Ask: OK, so why did the watermelon explode? What did Gavin and Daniel do? Can anyone guess? You can ask me questions if you like.
  13. If and when students run out of ideas, offer the following clues:
    • To make the watermelon explode, Gavin and Daniel used 500 identical everyday objects.
    • This is a scene from a video on YouTube.
  14. Before you let students see the video, write the following acronyms on the board:
    • 2YMAW
Gavin OTL
    • Daniel OTR
    • SOEO
  15. Say: These are all phrases that I used in my description. For example, 2YMAW is ‘Two young men at work’. Can you remember the other phrases? Can you write all of them on your drawings.
  16. Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 22.52.53

  17. Go over the answers.

  18. Answers: 2YMAW = two young men at work; SAASRT = sitting at a small round table; Gavin OTL = Gavin on the left; Daniel OTR = Daniel on the right; SOEO = sitting opposite each other; AOIFOT = arms out in front of them; ETS = eyes tightly shut; ATT = above the table; ITSBT = in the space between them; PORF = pieces of red flesh; GS = green shell; DOJ = drops of juice

  19. Show students the video. You can stop it at 01:45.
  20. Explain the concept of the Slow Mo guys to your students if they have never heard of them before.

Variation 1

Some students – especially older ones – may be reluctant to draw. If this is the case, give out copies of the image which is included in the PDF download.

Variation 2

Rather than describing the scene from the video, give students the following list of isolated items: one watermelon; two young men in white lab coats; an open space; 500 elastic bands; a slow motion camera. Ask students to work in small groups to theorise about what happens in the video. Alternatively, invite them to work out what happens by asking student-to-teacher questions.

Follow up

Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy are examples of successful YouTube entrepreneurs. As of July 2015, their YouTube channel has over 5 million subscribers and over 500 million views. By entering into the YouTube partnership programme, The Slow Mo Guys are able to share revenue with YouTube that is generated from advertising on their videos.

As a follow up to this activity, students should choose another YouTube entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team, investigate them and present their ideas to the rest of the class. Alternatively, they could investigate the technical principles that the Slow Mo Guys use to create their videos (see High-speed photography at Wikipedia for more information).


The illustration used in this activity was created by Jack Keddie.

Posted 21/7/15

6 Responses to Splat!

  1. sylvia says:

    Again, a wonderful idea and inspiring activities,this time with high speed photography- I will try out this lesson plan as soon as the new term starts.
    Thanks for your never ending infectious enthusiasm:-))

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you for the nice comment Sylvia
    Good luck with the activity when new term starts!
    Jamie :)

  3. Aura Pereira Mestre says:

    Simply marvellous. My students love your videotelling activities. Thank you.
    Keep on giving us such fun.

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Aura. I’ll be posting some info about the Videotelling book quite soon. If you would like to know more, the best thing do do would be to subscribe to my newsletter (in case you haven’t already).
    Thanks for you comment
    Jamie :)

  5. Vera Bobkova says:

    I’ve tried this lesson with a number of middle school kids – it went just as the doctor ordered! All the kids were motivated and even less talkative students had something to say. The video was such a great reward! You should have seen their faces – absolutely fascinated by what they saw.
    Here are some of the unusual answers to “why did the watermelon explode” – Gavin and Daniel were having their business lunch in a restaurant that was located on the ground floor of a building. They were sitting at a table outside. A family who lived upstairs were having a fight, and a husband was so angry that he threw the watermelon that the wife had bought right out of the window. Needless to say, it landed right between Gavin and Daniel )))
    A helicopter loaded with watermelons was flying to Russia from Uzbekistan. Suddenly the helicopter shook and one of the watermelons fell out. And it fell right to the table where Gavin and Daniel were sitting. It expoded before it hit the table because of the air pressure.

    We enjoyed the activity a lot!
    At first I had doubts the learners will be able to remember the key phrases by initial letters, but they did. And it was so much fun!

    Thank you, Jamie!

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    This is a great comment Vera. I think that students’ answers depend on your question (‘Why did the watermelon explode?’) which is more open and better than the one that I suggest (‘How did Gavin and Daniel cause the watermelon to explode?’) which restricts answers. I’ll start with your question next time,.
    Thanks Vera!
    Jamie :)