Teaching through Family Movies: Press Play & Run, Run, Rudolph

The Holidays are upon us! Which also means networks are committing 25 days OR two months to Holiday Classics and more!  I grew up watching The Holiday Claymation Films. Specifically, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I was recently watching it again this Holiday season when it struck me that it was a fun film to teach with.  Especially, to work on some more difficult topics like bullying, not fitting in, friendship, and self-advocacy.  These are really just to name a few.  I think sometimes we want to maybe shelter our children from films that portray these topics, BUT if we can’t talk about them, then how are our children supposed to? 

Teaching our kids during OR after their favorite films are some of the BEST times to encourage deep learning.  They are already motivated by the film, they’re paying attention, and adding quality family time to that only intensifies the emotional reward system making it an optimum time to teach!

Set the scene!  Maybe get some hot cocoa and warn you kiddos beforehand that you may press pause!  If you’re watching live it’s a great way to skip commercials too!  Keep in mind you can do this with SO many children’s films this is just a Holiday Themed Version!

Key Components:

  1. Acting! Encourage the whole family to act out scenes from the movie! (Research has actually shown that pretend acting increases public speaking skills…BONUS).
  2. Pause and create dialogue. EXPRESS how you FEEL during certain scenes…or how you would feel if you were the character. “Hey Rudolph’s dad told him to hide is nose…I feel sad for Rudolph.  I don’t think you should have to hide who you are.  What do you think?  How do you think Rudolph feels?”
  3. Recreate Scenes! Practice recreating scenes with new dialogue.  When Rudolph is getting bullied he runs away.  Have your kids practice what they could say to someone bullying them OR who they could go to for help instead.  (This film is also pretty great in creating dialogue about if your children think they COULD go to YOU for help.  Rudolph’s dad is sort of a jerk….you could point out things that he says or does that may not make Rudolph trust him.)
  4. Add scenes! Let your kids’ imaginations run WILD! Have them add a different ending or different scene in the film.
  5. Discuss how thoughts, feelings, and actions are all connected in the characters. Feeling sad made Rudolph think no one liked him so maybe he should run away, his action was running away.  What could he have done instead?  What thought could he use instead?

I could go on and on, BUT you have AMAZING ideas as well!  Don’t shy away from teaching your kids the hard lessons!  Talking about them in such a fun setting enables them to learn social and emotional strategies that they can carry with them! Social and emotional skills are often called the “soft” skills…. except they work on the HARDEST lessons.  On the foggiest of nights it helps to have a leader to shine a little light!

Happiest of Holidays