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Helpful Background

Additional Discussion Questions:
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)

Additional Assignments

Other Sections:
      Links to the Internet
      CCSS Anchor Standards
      Selected Awards & Cast

Go to the Learning Guide for this film.

Helpful Background:

TWM Contributor Mary Red Clay wrote the following blog post about this movie.
Not long ago in my 11th grade ELA class, a student announced to all that she was, well, with child. The class responded with a mighty "ohhhhh." The sound, heard in muted chorus, could have signified a question, a moan of disappointment, a hint of disapproval or perhaps a basic "you-don't-say" response. Probably given the fact that there were nearly forty students in the room, all three feelings were communicated in that "oh."

A wonderful teaching moment should never be ignored, despite all the brouhaha about standards and lesson plans and rigid adherence to curriculum. So, of course, I brought up the film Babies, which only two of the students had seen despite its popular appeal.

Two days later, we were watching this touching and delightful look at the lives of four babies from different cultures.

The students loved it. The film generated good class discussions as well as inspired writing on cultural differences, personal reflections and opinions.

One teacher in the faculty cafeteria said she played the film day after day for her three-year-old to prepare him for the birth of her new baby. She said the boy loved the film and after his little brother was born, he wanted to see it again. She is convinced that Babies helped her own baby and she said she could identify with the mothers in the film, empathizing with one completely and finding the other three interesting in their mothering styles.

A French documentary released in 2010, Babies was filmed over a period of 400 days in Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo. This 79 minute film is a nonfiction gem and earned a PG rating because of natural baby and maternal nudity. It is honest and optimistic.

Babies would make a fine "reward film" in that the visuals are stunning, the interconnectedness of human experience is clear, and the babies themselves are pure delight to anyone at any age. The scenes with animals, such as the one in which the goat pokes his head through an open window to sneak a drink of baby bath water, are quite funny. Young people love the scene in which one baby bites another in protest as the two are involved in competitive co-play just as children everywhere go about learning how to get along with one another. The wee child who bit the other puts her head down in exasperation, a gesture easily seen on humans of all ages everywhere.

My class enjoyed watching our own mother-to-be grow in size, and she seemed to bask in the acceptance she received from her peers. She married the baby's father and lives close to her own mother. I heard the other day that she is once again with child and loves being a stay-at-home mom. I hope she shows Babies to her first child to prepare the little girl for the coming of a brother or sister.

I must have gotten three or four good writing assignments out of the class; the best kind — writing that comes from solid interest in subject matter and the desire to think about and express what is on the mind, knowing you cannot be wrong in the opinions you communicate.

Teachers should view the film themselves and then possibly introduce the beauty of non-fiction to a class of any status, from remedial to honors, just to see the wonderful response.
Editor's footnote: A year later tragedy struck. The child's father, unschooled in how to care for a baby, was tasked with caring for her for a little while. The baby is now blind due to shaken baby syndrome and the father is being prosecuted. All of this is a reminder that at least in the U.S., teenagers should not have babies.


Additional Discussion Questions:

Continued from the Learning Guide...


Additional Assignments

Continued from the Learning Guide...

4. Write a compare/contrast essay that looks at one aspect of experience shared by all four babies in the film.

5. Write an essay in which you assert your opinion about how geography is the most important factor in creating the variety of baby rearing practices you see in the film. Refer directly to specific scenes and argue your point with conviction and clarity.

6. Write an opinion essay about which of the four babies is being raised in the most beneficial environment. Insert into this essay your best guess about how each baby's life may progress. Watch out to avoid ethnocentrism as much as possible.

Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions


    See Discussion Question #4 in the Learning Guide.

Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
(TeachWithMovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner"
and  uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.)

Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


(Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)

    See Discussion Question #4 in the Learning Guide.


(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)

    See the Question under "Parenting," above.

Links to the Internet:

  • Babies: the Movie by David F. Lancy, Ph.D. in Psychology Today, Column on Benign Neglect: An Anthropologist Looks at Parenting, January 28, 2011.

  • Common Core State Standards that can be Served by this Learning Guide
    (Anchor Standards only)

    Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.") CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.

    Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 4, and 7 - 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41,& 63.

    Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.

    Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

    Selected Awards: None.

    Featured Actors:   The babies, mothers and siblings themselves.

    Director:   Thomas Balmes.

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