Talking and Playing for Growth with:

Babe -- DRAFT

SUBJECTS --- The Environment (Animals);
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARING --- Friendship; Caring for Animals;

MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS --- Responsibility; Respect.

At a Glance: Age: 4 - 10; MPAA Rating -- G; Drama; 1995; 89 minutes; Color; Available from For awards given to this movie see the Internet Movie Database.

Possible Problems: None.

Benefits: "Babe" is a great film for kids of all ages, teaching important lessons about acceptance, friendship, forgiveness and perseverance. For animal loving kids, it's filled with many different animals, and shows life on the farm. It can also introduce children to the ideas of protecting animals by limiting or eliminating meat consumption.

Plot: "Babe" is the story of a pig who wants to be a dog. After Farmer Hoggett wins him in a raffle, Babe is taken to a farm, escaping the meat aisle fate of his parents. At the farm, Babe meets lots of different animals and makes many friends. He grows up into a caring pig, who defies all odds and shows that he can do anything he sets his mind to.

Major Characters:
  • Babe the Gallant Pig: Babe is a curious, kind, encouraging and caring pig. He's also a big dreamer, and believes that you can do anything, with a little practice!

  • Fly the Female Sheepdog: Fly is somewhat strict with Babe, but she also takes care of him and watches out for him. She learns from Babe that you can influence others without resorting to violence.

  • Ferdinand the Duck: Ferdinand, like Babe, has big plans: he wants to be rooster. He's dedicated, goofy and never gives up.

  • Rex the Male Sheepdog: Rex is, at first, bitter and angry after being rendered unable to compete in sheepdog competitions. He grows to become more forgiving, and helps Babe win the championship.

  • Farmer Hoggett: Farmer Hoggett is a very kind, gentle and respectable person. He is patient and forgiving and believes in Babe's skills as a sheeppig.

  • Playing for Growth:
      1.   Play "Animal Acts": this is a great game to play with multiple children, or your whole family. Go into a yard or a playroom, and explain that you are now on a farm full of lots of different animals. When you call out an animal, everyone must make their body look like the animal, and make the noise of the animal (for instance, if you call out cow, they should get on all fours and moo). The last person to do it is out! Switch roles, and have children call out animals, too. You can expand this to jungle animals, zoo animals, etc.

      2.   Put a spin on the classic game of Duck, Duck Goose! Have everyone sit in circle, and pick one child to be the "farmer". The farmer's job is to walk around the circle, saying "Farmer, farmer" and then select a kid, tap his or her head, and name an animal (i.e. Farmer, farmer, pig! or Farmer, farmer, goat!). The child who is tapped must chase the farmer around the circle, acting like whatever animal was chosen. The farmer and the animal run around the circle, and whoever gets back to the empty spot first sits down, and the other person becomes the farmer!

      3.  Babe learned how to act like a sheepdog, and he practiced with Farmer Hoggett for the big competition. Set up an obstacle course in the backyard (or create one at a park, using existing benches, trees, slides, etc). Put out some chairs, pillows, balls, hula-hoops, whatever you have available, and create a path that gets kids jumping, crawling, tiptoeing and using their bodies. Talk about how Farmer Hoggett trained Babe (and Fly and Rex) with a "training course". Time your child, and record the times. Compare how much faster they are after a couple of tries!

      4.  If you have a local farm, head down for a visit and see if you can take a tour. Talk to the farmers about how they raise their animals, which animal is their favorite, and what they like most about being a farmer. Show your child which animals make milk and eggs, and talk about how it's important to treat the animals with respect since they are providing food for us.

      5.  Look online for blank pictures of farm animals to print out, like the ones found here. Color them and cut them out with your child. Get some larger sheets of paper, or tape together smaller sheets, and draw a farm with different habitats: a pond, a barn, a field, a house, etc. Talk about which animals live where and why (ducks live by the pond because they need water, the sheep live in the field because they eat the grass, etc). Glue the animals into their homes, and now you have your own farm!
      If you allow your child to watch the movie more than once, on each occasion start a new conversation, see Talking for Growth, or pick a new activity from Playing for Growth.
    Story Time:

    Repeat the story of the movie at bedtime, on a rainy day, or at any quiet time. Feel free to invent new adventures for Babe and his friends. The incidents in your stories should explore the themes of the movie.

    Tell a story about a pet you had when you were a child, and all the fun times you spent together. If your family has a pet, ask your child to tell you a story about his or her favorite memory with the pet.

    Here is a bedtime story about the characters in "Babe":

    Word soon spread about Babe's talent. Pretty soon, Babe and Farmer Hoggett were traveling around the country, showing how Babe could herd sheep and encouraging animals and people to believe in their dreams. Babe returned home after one championship to find the farm empty. He wandered around, calling out for his friends. Nobody answered. He noticed that the barn door was shut and heard some rustling sounds inside. He snuck around to the back and slipped inside a small hole. Inside, he found all of the farm animals, crowded around in a circle and chattering loudly.

    "So you know Babe, then?" said Fly. Babe heard a small squeaky voice say yes. Babe pushed his way to the front. There he saw a pink pig, just about his size. "Well, now, who are you?" Babe asked. The other pig smiled. "Babe, I'm your brother...Gabe". Babe looked surprised, and couldn't speak. "Oh don't look so shocked! You didn't think you were the only one who escaped the fate of pork, did you?" Gabe asked. Babe laughed.

    The two spent the whole evening together, talking about what had happened in their lives since they were separated. "And, well, I heard that you were a fancy sheep pig, and, well, I wanted to come and see if it was true. And if maybe you could teach me how to be something that I'm not," Gabe said. "Oh, I see," said Babe, "And what is it that you want to be exactly?" Gabe smiled. "I want to be a house pet."
    Stop here and ask your child what he or she thinks is going to happen. Do you think Gabe could really become a house pet? What do you think Babe is going to say? What would you say to Gabe?
    Babe knew that being a house pet would be difficult for a pig, especially with Mrs. Hoggett wanting to cook pigs all the time! But he also knew that he had achieved the impossible by learning to herd sheep. He agreed to teach Gabe how to become a pampered house pet, and the two snuggled in the warm barn with Fly and Rex, laughing and telling stories until they fell asleep.

    Farmer Hoggett wasn't too surprised to find a new pig on his farm; after all, animals and their owners came to visit Babe all the time. But he was surprised to find the new pig trying to get inside the house. Gabe tried and tried to get Farmer Hoggett to play with him, but it was no use. "Why not try to win over Mrs. Hoggett instead?" Babe asked. "It's the start of strawberry season, and she'll be outside everyday picking berries for her jams." "What's the point? If Farmer Hoggett doesn't care about me, why would she?" Gabe said sadly. "You just have to practice, get confident and believe in yourself and what you can do!" Babe said. Suddenly the front door opened and Mrs. Hoggett walked outside with a big basket, ready to pick some strawberries. Babe nudged Gabe.

    Gabe made his way over to Mrs. Hoggett. At first she tried to shoo him away, but he kept trying and didn't give up. If she dropped a berry, he picked it up with his mouth and put it in the basket. He chased away bees and flies. Pretty soon Mrs. Hoggett realized what a sweet pig Gabe was. His small snout could even reach and pick the berries that Mrs. Hoggett couldn't get. The two worked together all day, picking ripe red strawberries.

    The next morning, Mrs. Hoggett went back into the garden with an empty basket. She knelt down to start picking, but stopped and stood back up. "Little pig!" she called. Gabe's ears perked up, and he trotted right to her side. The two worked away at the strawberry patch. Mrs. Hoggett even scratched Gabe behind the ears. Farmer Hoggett came to see how Mrs. Hoggett was doing, and was surprised to see the little pig by her side. "Well, who do we have here?" he asked with a grin. Mrs. Hoggett laughed. "You're not the only one with a pig for a pet!" she laughed. Gabe smiled, and deep in his heart he knew that he had become a house pet. "Oink, oink, oink!" he snorted. Mrs. Hoggett chuckled and gave him a kiss on his head.

    Talking and interacting with your child fosters mental and emotional development.

    Pick the play activity or talking point that works best. Cover two or three and you'll be doing great!

    Print this Guide for personal or classroom use in PDF or HTML.

    Children love Story Time and New Words.

    Talking for Growth:

    After watching the movie, ask your child about the story, the characters, and the outcome. Keep it light and fun.

    Always encourage children to form opinions and share them. Exercise their memory skills by asking about plot details. Open-ended questions will help get a discussion going.

    You can talk about the movie just about any time: right after it is over, in the car on the way to school, during quiet time, or before bed. Here are some conversation starters:

      Which animal was your favorite?

      If you could have any of the animals in the movie as a pet, which would you choose? Why is that?

      Why did Babe wind up at Farmer Hoggett's farm?

      Would you like to be a farmer? What kinds of animals would you raise?
    Talking About Three Themes from the Movie:

    Theme #1:   That'll do, pig! (Courage, Respect)
      1.   Babe is a wonderful role model for animals, as well as people. Why do you think he's so great?Talking about it: He's peaceful, respectful and kind. He's a great friend and helps out whenever he can. He doesn't stop, even when he was told he couldn't do something. Because of his determination, he won the respect of the whole farm, as well as the entire dog show. Babe promised himself that he would never think badly of any creature ever again; he always practices the Golden Rule.

      The Golden Rule is basic to morality and ethics. Here is a modern formulation of the Rule. Have your child memorize it or another version. Repeat it to your child often when a decision about how to act must be made and show your child how to apply it: "In every situation, act toward others in the same way that you would want others to act toward you."

      2.   How did Babe's differences make him special? Talking about it: Babe believed in himself. Even though he was just a little pig, he proved that the impossible can be achieved. He was a great friend and genuinely cared about other creatures, when many of the animals around him only thought about themselves. He was also respectful of others, and did not judge based on the way others looked or talked. Babe forgave others, and he lived his life in a happy way. All of these differences brought cheer and sunshine into the lives of all the farm animals, even Rex, and into the heart of Farmer Hoggett.

    Theme #2.   You can do whatever you set your mind to. (Courage; Responsibility)
      1.   What did Farmer Hoggett learn from Babe? Talking about it: He learned that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Babe defied all odds in becoming a sheep pig, and he taught Farmer Hoggett to relax, have fun and believe in impossible things.

      2.   Lots of characters in the movie had big dreams. Tell me about some of them and tell me how they accomplished them. Talking about it: Babe wanted to be a sheepdog. Ferdinand wanted to be a rooster. Farmer Hoggett wanted to have a prize winning sheep dog. By practicing and never giving up, they were able to work toward their goals and accomplish them.

      Use this opportunity to get engaged with your child about his or her feelings. Ask "what do you want to do when you grow up?" and "If you could do anything in the world what would it be?" Really listen to what your child has to say, and share some dreams you had when you were a kid. See what things you have in common. You can even go to the library and check out some books that might help your child accomplish his or her goals!

    Theme #3.   Violence is never the answer. (Responsibility, Caring for Animals, Respect, Friendship)
      1.   Fly told Babe that "Sheep are inferior, you need to insult them, bite them". But Babe was able to control the sheep better than Fly or Rex just by being polite and asking them to move. What does this tell you about hitting or kicking? Talking about it: Violence doesn't solve anything. If someone has a toy that you want to play with, you should ask politely to borrow it. Hitting or fighting with your friend is not an appropriate way to get what you want.

      Talk to your child about ways to deal with violence and fights. If someone is trying to pick a fight with them, walk away and tell a teacher or an adult. It is important to be the better person and deal with problems in a non-violent manner. Talk about appropriate ways to express frustration; with a letter, or a sit-down talk, or even a painting or drawing. Hitting, kicking, screaming and fighting not only do not get you what you want, but they also get you in trouble.

      2.   What did we learn about violence against animals? Talking about it: We saw some sad things in this film: Babe losing his mother, Fly losing her pups, Ma getting killed. We need to treat animals the same way we want to be treated; it's the Golden Rule. We should respect the animals' right to life, in whatever way that means for us. For some people this means not eating meat or using any animal products (vegetarians and vegans), for others it means eating meat that has been raised in better farms that let animals roam free. Animals care about us, and we need to care about them.
    "Trustworthiness", "Respect", "Responsibility", "Fairness", "Caring", and "Citizenship" refer to elements of the Six Pillars of Character developed by Character Counts. is proud to be a Character Counts Six Pillars Partner.

    New Words: pig, cow, sheep, horse, farmer, duck, rooster, hen, sheepdog, mice, cat, gullible, special, triumph, perserverance, championship.

    Bridges to Reading: The movie "Babe" is based on a fun children's book called Babe: The Gallant Pig. Check it out at a library, or get it from The author, Dick King-Smith, has many other great children's books about different animals.

    Take a look at other books about life on the farm, like Charlotte's Web, or ask your local children's librarian for farm books.

    Other Movies: "Babe 2" is a good sequel, following Babe as he heads to the city. Other fun movies about animals are "Charlotte's Web", "Happy Feet", and "The Adventures of Milo and Otis".
    For a discussion about how to make movies, films and videos more than just a baby sitter, see Ideas for Playing and Talking -- Developmental and Educational Advancement for Children 3 to 8.

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    This Playing and Talking Guide was written by Lauren Humphrey and James Frieden. It was first published February 17, 2007.

    Copyright © 2007 by, Inc. All rights reserved. DVD or VHS covers are shown by permission of and may be subject to copyrights shown thereon. The television set logo and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of, Inc.

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