12 Cross-Curricular Green Screen Ideas
Green screen technology is not just for movie studio effects anymore. Now with user-friendly technology, all-in-one kits, and a few green screen ideas, you can make your classroom or library an exciting visual learning space.
Multimedia video projects can be a powerful learning experience and a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts they’ve learned. With green screen technology, you take a photo or video of a subject against a green backdrop, then use software to easily remove the background, leaving your subject on a transparent layer. The software then allows you to overlay the transparent layer with a stock image or illustration.
This technique offers your students all kinds of fun project-based learning opportunities in every subject. Here are some core subject ideas to get you started.
Green Screen Ideas by Subject
- Water Cycle Demonstration
Have students choose images that represent each stage of the water cycle. Then, have them plan where they need to stand to get the best view of the image while they present each stage of the water cycle. After they film themselves giving their presentation in front of the green screen, they can edit the video to insert the images in the correct order.
- Landform Report
Have your students choose several major and minor landforms to report on. Students can research their chosen landforms and present a report against the green screen on the various features that define them. Then, they can edit their videos with images that represent each of the landforms they’re reporting on.
- Green Screen the Theme
Have your students create or find illustrations to use as a green screen background to highlight the specific details of a text they are working on. Students can then “enter” the scene, using dialog and action to demonstrate their understanding of the themes and details of the text.
- Visual Book Reports
Practice speaking and listening skills by having students present their book reports in front of the camera. You can use the book cover as the background (reminiscent of Reading Rainbow), or have students illustrate a new book cover for the background.
- Heritage Interviews
Have your students research their family history and create an illustration of their family tree to use as the background image in a green screen video. Then, have students pair up and interview each other about the interesting family facts they learned during their research, such as countries of origin, family traditions, or favorite family foods. Film these interviews in front of your green screen, and then use your software to overlay an image of each student’s family tree during their interview.
- Event Reenactment
Have your students research an important date in history related to your curriculum and find or create images that they can use as a background for their green screen scene. Students can either enter the scene themselves dressed as a historical figure, or they can attach images of important figures to green dowels and use them within the scene. Students can then craft dialog that demonstrates their knowledge of the event.
- Just the Facts
Set up a reporter’s desk in front of your green screen and ask students to put on their journalism caps. They can choose an event in history and an image of that event to use as a background image. Then, film your students as they report on the who, what, why, where, and when of their chosen event.
- Famous Words
Integrate language arts and social studies with a study of famous speeches or letters, such as “I Have a Dream,” “Ain’t I a Woman?” or “The Gettysburg Address.” Have students practice and give a part of the speech in front of your green screen. You can then film them and use your green screen software to add an image of the famous person who wrote the letter or the place where the speech was given.
- Ordering Fractions
Have students create themed props to illustrate different fractions (i.e., images of pizza or pie, shapes, or other objects divided in multiple ways). Then, group students together and have each student randomly select a prop and practice arranging themselves in order of least to greatest. After a bit of practice, film each group as they arrange themselves in front of your green screen to demonstrate their understanding of fraction order. Next, use your software to overlay an image of a pizza parlor or other background that ties to the theme of your props. You can then use these videos to help students review throughout the year.
- Visual Story Problems
Provide students with themed props or have them create props out of construction paper, such as seashells, cookies, apples, basketballs, etc. They can partner up and write a story problem based on one of the themes (i.e., Amara had 13 cookies and she gave 10 to her friend Ada). Have students use the props to act out the story problem. They can then add themed backgrounds (ocean, basketball court, etc.) to their story problem videos.
- Conflict Resolution Practice
Find or illustrate backgrounds for scenarios that you can use to demonstrate conflict-resolution strategies, such as walking away, talking the problem out, or cooling off. Students can then create drawings of a character that they can attach to a green dowel and use to enter the scene. Once you’ve taught your students about the different strategies, they can partner up with another student and use their characters against the backdrop of your green screen to act out a scene and create a video that shows their understanding of the different strategies.
- Empathy Act Out
Talk with students about the importance of recognizing and respecting the experiences and emotions of their classmates. Work with them to create a deck of note cards featuring some of the typical emotions or experiences they have throughout the day. Then, work with your students to create a list of strategies they might use to show empathy to their peers. Have students pair up and select an emotion or experience from the deck of cards. Students can then choose an image to use as a background for a green screen video in which they act out the emotion or experience they’ve selected, as well as the strategy they’ve chosen to show empathy.