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Habitat — Marcel Barelli, 2016

A playful look at different types of housing across the world.

In this short, animated film, a snail tries out many different styles of “house”. In a surreal series of small tableaus, with no speech and a few sound effects, she/he experiences the different “Habitats”. Which one would be your favourite? What would house would suit you?

Classroom Activities

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  • Sound On/Vision Off. Pupils should listen to the film without the visuals. What sounds can you hear? Pupils should draw everything you hear on a piece of paper or in a jotter as they listen.
  • Ask pupils what they think is happening? Write a short description/paragraph about what they think is going on.
  • Watch the full film with visuals. What kind of film is this? Does it remind the pupils of any other films/stories?
  • The whole film is shot as a long shot of the snail. Why do they think the director chose to compose it this way? What is the effect on us as the audience? What are we focussing on?
  • How does the director show emotions? Which habitat do the pupils think was the snail’s favourite? Which was the snail’s least favourite? How do they know?


  • Ask the pupils to make a list of all the different kinds of homes they can think of. What would be their favourite and why?
  • What makes a good home? What things are essential in a home? What things do they like to have in their home? What things can they do without?
  • Ask pupils to think about what it means to be homeless. Investigate charities that support young people and adults that are homeless. Ask a charity to come and speak to the pupils. Choose one of the charities and plan a fundraising activity to raise awareness in the school (bake sale, sponsored sleepover/sleep out). These links might help: Salvation Army, End Youth Homelessness, Emmaus UK.



  • What if? Pupils create a storyboard for an alternative creature in the narrative. Pupils should decide what creature the film could feature if the snail wasn’t the main character. What other creatures have a home attached to them? Would any animal have as much comedy value as the snail? Would different kinds of homes need to be used?
  • Turning the abstract film into written narrative, pupils should write a story about a young snail trying to find the perfect home using some of the habitat ideas to add to their story. What would the moral of their story be?


  • Make a short documentary about what things live in the playground/school. This could feature spiders, snails, slugs, bees, caterpillars, beetles etc.


  • Draw a new still from the film. What kind of house do the pupils think the snail could live in? If it was part of the original film, what would it look like? What would be in the background to make it feel similar? How would it be laid out (long shot, medium, close-up)? What colours should they use?
  • Pupils should draw (cross section) and write about their perfect house. What would be in it? Would the rooms be different? What would they need? What would make it better than their current house? Would they live in it by themselves, or would they design it to have friends or family in it?


  • Pupils should choose an animal and create/design the perfect habitat for them. This could involve doing research to investigate the type of habitat their animal needs. Access to water/food etc should be considered.
  • Create the perfect habitat for bugs in the playground. Create or develop a bug hotel in the playground to provide habitats for and encourage a range of creatures to take up residence.
  • Investigate the Favelas of Brazil. Consider how this differs from what we are used to in the UK.


  • Complete a survey and graph of housing in the class. Display this on the wall.
  • Create one of the habitats featured in the film in a 3D diorama, instead of 2D, with junk modelling. Pupils should work in a team to do this.
  • Create a class Favela (see research above). Working in small groups pupils should plan and create their own small houses from recycled materials. Pupils can get inspiration from here.
  • Using instruments or their own bodies/voices, pupils should create a new soundtrack for the film in small groups. Each group can then take their turn playing over the muted film with the soundtrack they have created.

Clip Details

Year of Production 2016
Genre Documentary, Animation
Curriculum Areas Literacy and English, Social Studies, Technologies
Director Marcel Barelli
Country of Origin Sweden
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Colour, Sound, No Dialogue
Themes Culture / Society, Food / Environment, Poverty / Class, Creative Expression
Clip Length 02:00
Clip Length 02:00