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For Primary School Classes - Ages 5 - 12
SUBJECTS — Cinema; Drama/Musicals; U.S./1865-1913;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Self-esteem; Friendship; Taking
        Care of Yourself; Breaking Out;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS --- Trustworthiness; Respect; Caring.
Age: 5+; No MPAA Rating; Musical; 1939; 101 minutes; B & W and Color. Available from Amazon.com.
Click here for a Learning Guide for secondary school classes.

Description: Dorothy Gale, a Kansas farm girl, is caught in a tornado and knocked unconscious. She awakens far from home in the magical Land of Oz with witches, wizards, little people, flying monkeys, and other fantastic beings. The movie describes her efforts to get back home, the characters she meets, and the life-lessons that she learns. At the end of the film, Dorothy awakens and finds that it was all a dream, but she has changed and grown — and so has the audience. The film is adapted from the popular children's book by L. Frank Baum.

Rationale for Using the Movie: The movie is a perennial favorite with children. The story deals with many of the fears and concerns of childhood and fosters important social emotional learning.

Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Some of the social emotional learning available from the movie will be made clear to students.

Possible Problems: Some of the scenes with the Wicked Witch may frighten younger children.



Rationale and Objectives
Possible Problems
Parenting Points

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


Benefits of the Movie
Helpful Background
     Developmental Issues Raised
     Movie as a Work of Literature

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


This story is popular because it helps children work through the following fears and concerns of childhood.
  1. Home is the center of a child's life. But children know that somewhere beyond the safety of home, there is a world that is exciting and colorful, yet sometimes dangerous. What will happen if the child must leave home before he or she has grown up? Will the child be able to meet the challenges? Will he or she ever be able to find the way back home?

  2. What about relationships with grown ups? Adults are all-powerful to a young child but a child soon learns that this power has limits, as when Auntie Em and Uncle Henry couldn't prevent Miss Gulch from taking Toto.

  3. What do children do when adults ignore or cannot respond to their pleas for help?

  4. How does a child learn what he or she needs to know to get through tough situations?

  5. Can children ever triumph over evil adults?

  6. What about appearances? How do you tell appearance from reality?

  7. How does a child meet the challenges of becoming an adult?

  8. How does a person act courageously when her or she is feeling very scared?


Introduction to the Movie: The film needs no introduction.

Discussion Questions:

After the film has been watched, engage the class in a discussion about the movie. Select a few of the questions set out below. Questions 1 - 8 track the list of childhood fears and concerns. Some are approached directly; others indirectly.

1.   Dorothy was just a child, but she did make it home. What was in Dorothy's mind that allowed her to get home? Suggested Response: There are several answers. She was careful to observe things around her. She found friends to help her. She was lucky. She was strong and in each situation did what she knew was right.

2.   Why couldn't Uncle Henry and Auntie Em stop Miss Gulch from taking Toto? Was this because they didn't love Dorothy? Suggested Response: Miss Gulch had an order from the Country Sheriff, and Uncle Henry and Auntie Em had no choice but to obey that order. The fact that Uncle Henry and Auntie Em could not protect Toto, didn't mean they loved Dorothy any less.

3.   When Uncle Henry and Auntie Em couldn't get Toto back despite the fact that Dorothy asked them to, what did Dorothy do? What do you think she should she have done? Suggested Response: Dorothy tried to run away, but Professor Marvel helped her realize that this was not the right thing to do. Dorothy came home to try to work it out, but then the tornado happened. In a sense, Dorothy's entire time in Oz was trying to work out what would happen to Toto.

4.  How does a child learn what he or she needs to know to get through tough situations? Suggested Response: This is part of growing up. Observe carefully. Act carefully. Try to think about what would be the best thing to do.

5.   Dorothy killed the wicked witches. How did she do that? Suggested Response: Her house fell on one of them, and she threw water on the other.

6.  What appearances in this movie are misleading? Suggested Response: There are many, including: the power of the Wizard of Oz; the ability of Professor Marvel to see into the future; the idea that Dorothy is a powerless little girl; the Scarecrow's stupidity; the Tin Man's lack of heart; and the Lion's cowardice.

7.   In this story, Dorothy, who was just a child, acted like a grown-up in many ways. Give two examples of actions that Dorothy took that were like grown-up actions. Suggested Response: There are a host of good responses. Almost any action taken by Dorothy while she was in Oz can be characterized as an action that is an adult-like response to Dorothy's circumstances.

8.  How does a person who is afraid act with courage? Suggested Response: Courageous people often feel fear. However, they know what they must do and they do it, despite their fear. If a child is interested in this question, it might be a good idea to read to them or have them read The Red Badge of Courage. See Learning Guide to "The Red Badge of Courage".

10.    The Wizard gave the Tin Man a clock. Why did the Tin Man want to have a clock? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response. A good response will include the fact that the clock was to show that the Tin Man had a heart and cared for people. However, the Tin Man had cared for people all the time; it was just that he thought he didn't and needed someone to reassure him that he did.

11.    The Cowardly Lion received a medal for bravery from the Wizard. What did the medal really give to the Lion? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response. Good responses might include the fact that the lion was courageous before he received the medal. He just needed to see it himself.

12.    The Wizard gave the Scarecrow a diploma from a university stating that he was a wise man. What changed for the Scarecrow once he had received the diploma? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response. The Scarecrow thought he was stupid because he had a head full of straw, and having the diploma gave him confidence that he was smart.

13.  Ask the following questions in sequence:

    Was there someone in Dorothy's dream about the Land of Oz who reminded you of Miss Gulch? Who was she? Why did she remind you of Miss Gulch?

    Was there someone in Dorothy's dream about the Land of Oz who reminded you of Professor Marvel, the man who told Dorothy's fortune with the crystal ball? Who was he? Why did that character in Oz remind you of Professor Marvel?

    Were there people in Dorothy's dream who reminded you of the farmhands? Who were they? Why did they remind you of the farmhands?

Suggested Responses: The dream transformed Miss Gulch to a Wicked Witch, Professor Marvel into the Wizard of Oz and the three farmhands to the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man.

14.  How does Dorothy change from the beginning to the end of this movie? Suggested Response: There is no one right answer. A good answer would include that she came to know her own strength and resourcefulness or that she grew in self-confidence.

15.  Did Oz really happen or was it just Dorothy's dream? Suggested Response: It was both a dream and an experience from which Dorothy could learn and grow. just like any story did not really didn't happen, it showed us the different ways that people will behave in real situations. Not all stories do that, but good stories do.


1.  Have students draw their favorite scene from the movie.

2.  Have students draw a chart showing which characters from the farm were which characters in the Land of Oz.


Parenting Points: Watch the movie with your child. At the end of the movie point out some of the similarities of the characters in the Land of Oz and the farm in Kansas. At another time, ask how Oz convinced the people of the Emerald City that he was in fact a powerful wizard? Did he really have magical powers?

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.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: amazement, anxious, aroused, astonished, aver, awkward, beneficent, bondage, bovine, caliginous, careworn, cataclysm, civilized, clumsy, companions, confidential, cruelty, curious, danger, dangerous, destroy, discouraged, dismal, earnest, enable, enchanted, fragrance, genuflect, hesitate, hob-nob, inconvenient, industrious, journey, kowtow, luscious, misfortune, monstrous, motionless, munchkin, muddle, oblige, prairie, pusillanimous, reflection, reproach, scarecrow, sorceress, spectacles, tedious, vernacular, weapons, whopper, witch, whippersnapper, whirlwind, wizard. See also Vocabulary List for the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and English Learner Movie Guide to "The Wizard of Oz" from ESLnotes.com.


Revised and updated August 24, 2013.

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