The Missing Sock

Author - Black Knight Studios - Austin Hillbrecht
Illustrator/Animator - Austin Hillbrecht 
Publisher - Uploaded by Lifeway College (Hamburg Animation Awards) to YouTube, 2010.


Overview of Text
This text is an animated short film with minimal written text (title, credits) and a simple, dramatic soundtrack.  The topic is 'The Missing Sock' and the film follows a narrative format of 'orientation, complication and resolution'.  It tells the story of a boy, Daniel Whitaker, who has lost a sock and travels to a strange and frightening world inside his washing machine where he tries to find his missing sock.  While visiting this strange world he encounters a sock monster and just manages to escape - unfortunately without his sock!

This text relies upon the visual literacy skills of the viewer and the viewers 'schema', to accurately interpret the intent of the film.  The time-space of the film is uncertain however it appears to be set in a surreal, possibly futuristic setting.  The viewer sees the events unfold from a superior position where we see what happens to the main character.  The viewer can predict what will happen before the main character, helping to build the tension. 

Language Features
This animation contains no spoken words and minimal written text.  Communication of the story is achieved through use of visual imagery, characterisation and sound effects. 

Other textual features (e.g. format, illustrations)
Animated characters include the boy, the washing machine and the sock monster, (personification). The images create a surreal, parallel world whilst maintaining links to the 'real' world of the home laundry.  The soundtrack that accompanies the film adds significantly to the drama and interpretation of the narrative.

Upper Primary students - Year 6 and Year 7

Non-Fiction and animation


Before Viewing

Activity 1 - Whole class reading
Select a reading from a book like 'Naughty Stories for Good Boys and Girls', by
Christopher Milne. (Naughty Stories). Read the story and discuss with students. 
Discuss the moral at the end of the story. 

Activity 2 - Check prior knowledge
Question students' to discover their prior knowledge about narratve writing.  Use the  'Naughty Story' just read as a basis for discussion about the structure of Narrative.  
Record students' responses, but make no effort to correct them. 

Activity 3 - Individual writing
Provide students with a sentence starter and ask them to write a narrative - allow 10 minutes. 
Example of a sentence starter could be, 'I opened the door ....'
Share - Ask for student volunteers to read aloud their writing.
Vote - Ask students to judge who wrote the best narrative? Call for a show of hands
from the class. 
Discuss - Why did you enjoy this piece of writing?  What features of the writing made it enjoyable.  Point out characters, plot development, motive, descriptions, dialogue etc.

Activity 4 - Review Narrative Structure
Review the structure of a narrative and include orientation, complication and resolution.  (This could be in a powerpoint format)
Orientation - setting, time, characters, place.  Choice of words is important to create atmosphere. Characters introduced and clues or cues set in place for the coming complication.
Complication - problem or complication occurs that effects the setting and/or characters
Minor Resolution - where problem seems to be resolved
Complication or new problem - the problem is now even worse than before.
Resolution - problem is solved.
Moral or Evaluation e.g. in 'Naughty Stories' there is always a moral

Activity 5 - Explore narrative Structure in groups
Students work in small groups.  Each group is given a short story - 'Little Red Riding Hood'.  They work collaboratively to place each component of the story into the narrative structure described above using a graphic organiser.  For example:  
1) Orientation - Little Red Riding Hood sets out for Grandmothers house.
2) Complication - She meets the wolf
3) Minor resolution - The wolf leaves her alone - while he races ahead to grandmother's
4) New problem or complication -The wolf eats grandmother and tricks Little Red Riding
5) Resolution - The wood cutter saves Little Red Riding Hood
6) Moral - You should never walk alone in the woods or children shouldn't talk to strangers.

Activity 6 - Whole class review
Class group can review 'Little Red Riding Hood' activity and clarify/discuss any issues


Check students' prior knowledge and skill at writing a narrative.  Provides a work sample for later comparison.

Students as Text-users - using knowledge of narrative structures to write a narrative, review narrative structure and explore narrative in groups. 

During Viewing

Activity 7 -  View the short film 'The Missing Sock'
Discuss the film and point out the imagery, the soundtrack, the characters, the plot and
the lack of spoken words.
'Think, pair, share' - Students can examine and discuss how the film manages to convey
it's meaning through the use of the above text features, rather than using words.
Share with the whole class group

Activity 8 - Watch the film again
Ask students to identify the main characters and to notice narrative features of Orientation, Complication, Minor Resolution, New Complication and Resolution.  Studnents make notes.


Students as code-breakers
and text-participants.

After Viewing Activities

Activity 9 - Work in pairs
Provide students with a graphic organiser and ask them to discuss and record the
narrative features from the film under the correct headings, Example: 

Orientation - main character Daniel Whitaker is in his laundry
Complication - one of his sock is missing and he falls into the washing machine and
enters a surreal parallel world. 
Minor Resolution - he finds his missing sock
New complication - a sock monster chases him
Resolution - he escapes to the safety of his laundry
New complication - the sock monster follows him
Resolution - he gets rid of the sock monster but his sock is still missing
Moral - it's not worth trying to find your missing socks. 

Activity 10 - Watch the movie once again
Students compare the movie to the notes on their prepared graphic organiser, making
any adjustments or corrections required.

Activity 11 - Discuss as a whole class group
Discuss and uncover the narrative structure above.  Discuss and clarify.

Activity 12 - Narrative Features
 important narrative features of successful writing, e.g.
- use of dialogue (between characters or in the characters mind)
- descriptive language (including simile, metaphor, imagery)
- effective characterisation (to elicit an emotional response from the reader)
- past or present tense
- use of varied sentence structures (simple, compound and complex)

Activity 13 - Peer and Self assessment
In pairs, ask students to review their previous narrative writing attempt from Activity 3. 
Then, using peer and self assessment, students can take turns to:
- read-aloud their narratives
- talk about and identify narrative features, e.g. plot, characterisation, use of dialogue
- identify and talk about narrative structures
- critique each others' work - both positive and constructive
- recommend improvements

Activity 14 - Edit or re-write their narrative 
Students can individually incorporate the ideas and feedback from the Peer and Self Assessment activity to improve their narratives.  They can either edit or re-write.

Activity 15 - Individual Writing Task
View 'The Missing Sock' for a final time.
Explain that each student will now work with their narrative structure - graphic organiser - to compose a short narrative that tells the story of 'The Missing Sock'.
Allow students 20 - 30 minutes for this activity and remind students to incorporate all they know and have learned about narrative writing.

Activity 16 - Whole class sharing and discussion
Students can read aloud their narratives for 'The Missing Sock'. 
Provide constructive feedback.
Optional: incorporate a secret ballot to select the best narrative based on set criteria.


Students as code-breakers and text-participants - examining the film to identify meaning and relate it to the narrative structure and features.

Students as text-users: working to create a narrative incorporating all that they have learned about narrative writing.
Reference: Figg. S, (2002) ‘Understanding Narrative Writing: Practical Strategies to Support Teachers’, Hartz Literacy Workshop in 2002.