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Second Helpings (1999)

Yvonne is loathe to be seen in her formal attire for her first communion, and is resistant to the calorific feast her family’s provided. Fleeing to her room, she’s confronted by her distorted reflection, who points out her folly and shows her reflection as she truly is. With fresh perspective, Yvonne comes to terms with herself, returning to the dinner table in her dress with a newfound self-respect. Having tucked the back of her dress into her knickers, she can even laugh off one last moment of embarrassment with this new confidence.

Classroom Activities

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  • Whose story is this? Do we take her side?

  • Do we like Yvonne? Do we feel sorry for her?

  • When do photos get taken? Why? What are they copying? What spoils the photos at the end?

  • Who is the character in the mirror?

  • Is it a happy ending?

  • The colours in Second Helpings are all bright. Why do you think this is?

  • Does the film remind you of any other animations you have seen? What are the differences?

  • Do you think the film has a theme or message?


  • Watch the sequence of shots at the beginning of the film. Discuss what they tell us about the character Yvonne.

  • Screen the opening sequence at the fashion show. Ask your pupils to listen to the sounds. Who and what do we hear? Where are the other people? Discuss how on-screen and off-screen sound can help create the setting for a film story. Get pupils to draw an aerial shot of the fashion show with runway, models and crowd, placing them where they think they are.

  • Watch the film and find examples of close-ups, medium shots, long shots and a point of view shot. Note what’s happening and why they are used at this point in the story.


  • Watch the film focusing on the character of Yvonne. At the end of the film, get pupils to write a chart of her character throughout the story: what is she like at the beginning of the film? Has she changed at all by the end? In what ways, and why?

  • List all the different ways people talk to each other in the film.

  • Watch a sequence in the sitting room and in Yvonne’s room. List the things we can see. Discuss how these props tell us things about the family. Do the pupils have similar things at home?

  • Discuss feelings, behaviour and relationships within the home and family.

  • Review the theme of Second Helpings and identify the main character. Divide the class into two groups with one half of the class focusing on Yvonne’s story, and the other half of the class focusing on her sister. Each group discuss how their character feels at different points in the story. How is this shown? Discuss their perceptions of the film from these two points of view. Use guiding questions, such as: “how did Yvonne feel when she walked into the dining room?” or “How does her sister get on with Yvonne?” Finally, get each group to re-tell the story from their character’s point of view. Before the pupils start writing, briefly talk about what kind of things would be in each account. For example, Yvonne wouldn’t know what was going on in the dining room when she was upstairs. Her sister wouldn’t know what Yvonne was doing or how she was feeling upstairs on her own.


  • Write a character profile of Yvonne in the third person. Then write a first person diary entry from Yvonne’s diary. Discuss differences between first and third person accounts, focussing on how each is able to communicate emotions, thoughts and feelings.

  • Download the film then add a new voiceover to the film to make it more upbeat.

  • Write a diary entry of the day from the sister’s diary.

  • Create a healthy diet plan for a teenage girl.

  • Cook some healthy balanced meals.

  • Write a personal account of a time when you have felt unhappy or out of place.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-105-C
Resource Rights Holder Network Ireland
Project Ref STSH1-05
Year of Production 1999
Genre Drama, Comedy
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Social studies, Religious and moral education, Sciences
Who Joel Simon, (Director, Writer), Malachy Cooney (Writer), Sarah Perry (Producer)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content 3D Animation, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Glamour, Culture, Embarrassment, Self Image, Family, Health
Clip Length 08:00