The Boy and the Piano

Age Range: 5 - 11
By: Sam Collins

A story about the power of a gift, and how that gift inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John. ​

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Discuss why the story is told backwards from the present day to Elton’s childhood, instead of the other way round. What impact does that have?
  • Compare to the Very Christmas 2018 Advert which has a similar theme. What are the similarities and differences?

  • Write a narration for the advert. This could be from Elton John’s point of view, or in the third person.
  • Watch the opening section from 0:00 - 0:05. How would you describe the setting? Compare it to the setting at the end of the advert (from 1:41 to 1:58). What are the similarities and differences?
  • What do Elton John’s clothes at different points in the advert tell us about him? How would you describe them?
  • Stop the video at various points and write thought bubbles for Elton John. What is he thinking and feeling?
  • If you could interview Elton John, what would you ask him?
  • Watch some John Lewis Christmas adverts from previous years. Do you prefer this one to previous ones? Why do you think John Lewis chose to do this? Who are they trying to appeal to?
  • Watch the “making of” video and write a report about how the advert was made.


  • Stop the video at 0:37. How many lights do you think there are in this picture? How could we work it out without counting them all?​


  • Use Garage Band or a similar program to record multi-track music.
  • Watch the section from 0:31 - 2:58 in the “making of” video (shown above) and try adding a different background to a segment you have filmed using a green screen app such as Doink.

Design Technology

  • Elton John is well known for his flamboyant glasses, can you design him a pair?
  • Design an outfit that Elton John could perform in.


  • Make a storyboard of the advert. ​


  • Research how a piano works. This site has some helpful information.
  • Listen to the soundtrack of the advert - the quality of the sound changes depending on the environment it is in. Investigate this effect by playing instruments in different places around school and noting how they sound. What difference does it make?


  • The section where Elton John gets his first piano is set around 1950. How might Christmas have been different then? What clues are there in the advert? ​


  • At the end of the advert, it says “Some gifts are more than just a gift.” What do you think that means?
  • Elton’s mum and grandmother are clearly very proud of him. When have you been proud of someone else? Why did you feel like that?


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