See-Hear-Feel Film at Amherst Cinema: Engaging and Inspiring Young Learners through Film

“Better than Christmas!” is what one third grade student said about Amherst Cinema’s groundbreaking arts and literacy program, See-Hear-Feel-Film (SHFF), and we couldn’t agree more!

See-Hear-Feel-Film is Amherst Cinema’s education program for school children. Over 1,200 students from throughout the Pioneer Valley participate every year. Half come from underserved public schools and ALL attend on scholarship. SHFF is made possible thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

The Program
See-Hear-Feel Film uses the immense power of cinema to teach third graders to become more active and thoughtful viewers, to open their artistic eyes, to feed their imaginations, and to develop their writing skills. Students watch, listen, and discuss short films from around the world, and work in small groups to write and present their own original stories. The films are carefully selected for children and address experiences familiar to them. Students learn that stories are brought to life through the use of setting, character, dialogue, perspective, conflict, and empathy.

The People
Our program brings together students, teachers, and volunteers from Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Classroom teachers receive interactive training sessions led by Amherst Cinema’s Education Specialist, a comprehensive curriculum guide, and a DVD with all films taught in the program. They then have the tools to teach additional units in their own classrooms. Many of our dedicated volunteers have previously worked in education and are big advocates for the program.

“The See-Hear-Feel Film Program is a great partnership,” said a SHFF volunteer and former public school educator. “The teamwork demonstrated by the cinema, the schools, and the host of volunteers (of various ages and experiences) leaves the students with yet another visual imprint—one of cooperation, collegiality, and of a learning community. I give the See-Hear-Feel Film Program a standing ovation.

Teachers are equally enthusiastic about SHFF, citing students’ increased and prolonged engagement with the material. “On my visits to the schools this year, I saw numerous bulletin boards displaying students' story boards generated through the See-Hear-Feel-Film program,” said a public school ELA/Humanities director. “Students filled many journals with their story boards after the program. Teachers continually asked if they would be able to participate in the program the following year.

SHFF by The Numbers
• SHFF is taught in five units: two at Amherst Cinema, three in the classroom
• Over 1,200 children—more than 50 third grade classes—participate in SHFF at Amherst Cinema each year.
• Public school districts served in 2015-2016: Amherst, Chicopee, Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Pelham, and Shutesbury
• Over 67% of Holyoke’s students are economically disadvantaged and 25% are English language learners; 48% of Chicopee’s students are economically disadvantaged, and 45% of Greenfield’s students are economically disadvantaged. (Source: Mass. Dept. of Ed.)
• The program originated at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY, where it has been taught successfully to over 50,000 school children since 2001.

How You Can Help

In order for teachers to continue to make SHFF part of their curriculum, we depend on support from community members like you. Your generosity allows us to offer this essential educational program at a low or no cost to participating schools. To learn more about See-Hear-Feel-Film and Amherst Cinema, please visit our website:

To donate to Amherst Cinema, follow the link provided and click on Add to My Donation Basket, or use the code 957289 on your paper pledge form.