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Train of Thought — Jonathan Hogson, 1985

This is an abstract interplay between music and form. Shapes and colours literally dance to the rhythm in this expressive 2D drawn animation. There is no dialogue, nor a narrative of any kind. The raw, primal style of drawing lends itself well to the freeform vivid quality of this short.

The animation would be useful in expressive writing exercises. For example, the use of rhythm is comparable to the beat of poetry or rap, or the use of colour can be likened to metaphor.

Classroom Activities

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  • Is there a story to 'Train of Thought'?
  • Is there a setting in this film?
  • What are the different colours of the shapes and patterns?
  • How many different shapes and patterns can you see in Train of Thought?
  • Do particular shapes/patterns play a bigger or smaller part in the film?
  • Are these particular shapes/patterns linked to parts of the music?
  • Can you describe the movements of the shapes/patterns?
  • Why does one particular shape or pattern happen after the other?
  • Watch 'Train of Thought', asking children to think about how the different shapes move and change in the film. Ask them to describe what they notice after the screening.
  • Watch the film again. This time, divide the class into groups, and ask each group to focus on ‘the journey’ made by different shapes: triangle, square, circle, rectangle. Allow time for each group to talk briefly about what happens to their shape in the film.


  • Maths and art or music do not usually sit together in people’s minds – one is seen as a logic subject, the other as an expressive one. Do you think this is correct? What other “opposite” subjects could be combined in an interesting way?
  • Maths has historically been thought of as a subject for boys, while art and music were for girls. Do you agree with this? Why do you think people believe this? What problems can this cause?
  • Can you think of any other films that have strange abstract moments like this?
  • What do you think of abstract art: is it “real art”?



  • Make a list of verbs, adverbs and adjectives that describe movement. Use these to write a detailed description of a person, animal or object moving.
  • Ask pupils to draw and cut out several shapes of the same kind (e.g. different triangles). Play the soundtrack to the film or another song for a minute or so. Ask them to place their shapes to create a ‘visual story line’ for the shape. In each shape, ask the children to write a word to describe its action: sitting, rolling, whirling, flipping, jumping. Use these words as a basis for creating shape poems.


  • Draw one large shape, then design the inside with a myriad of other shapes. You could even design this as a mindful colouring-in sheet – then use it at the end of the lesson as a mindfulness activity!


  • Create a soundtrack to go with the shape poems mentioned above of with the film itself.


  • Explore the physical dimensions of shape movement.


  • Draw and cut out a variety of shapes and make a short film about the form and how it can be defined.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-097-C
Resource Rights Holder Sherbet Animation and Film Production
Project Ref STSH1-01
Year of Production 1985
Genre Abstract, Animation
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Modern Languages, Literacy and English, Maths, Religious and Moral Education, Sciences, Social Studies, Technologies
Director Jonathan Hogson
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Non-Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Identity / Self, Communication, Creative Expression
Clip Length 03:00
Clip Length 03:00
Age Group P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6