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Train of Thought (1985)

Train of Thought 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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  • 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?

  • Is there a story to Train of Thought?

  • Is there a setting in this film?


  • Ask children, in pairs, to draw and cut out several shapes, e.g. different triangles. Play the soundtrack to the film with no picture for a minute or so. Repeat this to give children time to think. Ask them to place their shapes in order to create a ‘visual story line’ for their 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.

  • Cover the screen and listen to the soundtrack only. Encourage children to think about the music, creating actions and adding words reflecting the soundtrack.


  • 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.

  • List all the words that can describe movement: e.g. adverbs such as slowly, gently, quickly, noisily; or adjectives such as backwards, sideways, up, forwards.


  • Write a poem of your journey to school.

  • In music, children could create their own soundtracks to go with written poems and with the film itself.

  • In PE children could explore the physical dimensions of shape movement.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-097-C
Resource Rights Holder Sherbet
Project Ref STSH1-01
Year of Production 1985
Genre Abstract
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Social studies, Religious and moral education, Sciences, Technologies, Mathematics, Numeracy
Who Jonathon Hogson (Filmmaker)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Non-Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Shape, Form, Movement, Rhythm, Inspiration, Music, Expression
Clip Length 03:00