Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

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SUBJECTS — The Environment; Science/Technology;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Grieving;Redemption; Friendship;
         Ambition; Running Away;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness;Responsibility.
Age: 8 - 11; MPAA Rating: G (we disagree, there's too much frightening violence); Animated Musical; 1994; 1 hr. 27 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.

Description: The Lion King is a metaphorical tale about maturation and regaining one's rightful place in society. It tells the story of Simba who lost his filial position of power after his uncle, Scar, murders his father. Simba returns after a series of trials and regains the throne; order is restored.

Rationale for Using the Movie: The Lion King deals with common themes in world literature and as such prepares the viewers for more sophisticated stories such as can be found in several tales from the bible, Shakespeare's Hamlet and the process of becoming a hero as defined by Joseph Campbell. It can stimulate interest in the animals of Africa as well as the biological concept of the food chain. It explores the topics of death of a parent, betrayal, friendship and coming of age.

Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Students will be able to exercise research and writing skills dealing with both the art and ideas in the film and thus improve their ability to communicate ideas.

Possible Problems: There is considerable degree of violence as is common in Disney films. There is also grieving associated with loss of a parent.



Rationale and Objectives
Possible Problems
Parenting Points

Using the Movie in Class:
      Introduction to the Movie
      Discussion Questions


Helpful Background

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

Other Sections:
      Bridges to Reading
      Links to the Internet
      Selected Awards & Cast

MOVIE WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students' minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.


Introduction to the Movie: XXXX.


Discussion Questions:

After the film has been watched, engage the class in a discussion about the movie.

1.  What connection is there between the lyrics of the song "The Circle of Life" and the story told in the film? Suggested Response: Any answer is acceptable that is carefully reasoned. In its simplest analysis, it is a statement about the fact that beings are born, live and then die. On some levels, it may be a statement about how age old problems in terms of power struggles and leadership roles remain issues in modern times.

"The Circle of Life"
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding

2.  Simba felt not only grief in the death of his father, but guilt. What was the cause of his remorse? Suggested Response: Whereas grief comes from loss, guilt is usually experienced when an individual behaves in an irresponsible manner that may result in disturbing consequences. Simba felt responsible for Mufasa's death because he had disobeyed his father who then had to risk his life in order to save his son.

3.  Simba does not return to power on his own accord; he is helped by right thinking individuals around him. What idea is emphasized in presenting this detail in the film? Suggested Response: Answers will vary: It may be said that each individual needs friends upon whom he or she may count in order to progress toward maturation and personal power in any situation.

For additional discussion questions, click here.


Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:

1.  Select any animal represented in The Lion King and do thorough research on the entire life way of that animal. Prepare an oral presentation about the animal you have selected and determine whether or not the animal is characterized adequately in the film. Use visuals, either photographs or drawings to illustrate your information.

2.  Research the biological concept of "the food chain" and write an essay in which you both explain the concept and determine whether it is portrayed accurately in the film.

3.  The Lion King is allegorical in that it uses animals to make important points about human behavior. Write an essay delineating three of these points and show how the story illustrates them. Indicate how these behaviors can be seen in human society today.

4.  Determine whether or not The Lion King is a film that glorifies the concept of inherited positions of power as in monarchies. This is contrary to democracy. Write an essay in which you evaluate the idea of a return to inherited power as it appears in the film and assert whether or not you believe the restoration of patriarchal monarchy is Disney's intention in producing the film.

For additional assignments, click here.


For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.

Parenting Points: Encourage your children to talk about various aspect of the film that are important or especially vivid to them. Address their issues with a positive point of view that asserts the triumph of good over evil. You may want to share with them some actual photographs of the kinds of animals presented in the film and encourage them to learn about the behaviors of each species.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: "food chain," ecosystem, mutual dependence, "circle of life," hyena, meerkat, warthog.


OTHER LESSON PLANS: Sundiata, Mali's Lion King from Artsedge; and Distance Learning Guide. See also Reading in the Dark, by John Golden, 2001 National Council of Teachers of English.

  • Nigel Dennis Wildlife Photography;
  • Lions at Etosha;
  • Screensavers of Lions.

  • Last updated December 10, 2009.

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