Intentional Parenting Family Movies
Talking and Playing for Growth With . . .
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Moral-Ethical Emphasis — Trustworthiness; Respect; Responsibility; Caring.
At a Glance — Age: 5 - 8; MPAA Rating -- G; Drama; 1989, 76 minutes; Color; Available at Amazon.com.
Description — Milo is a farm kitten. Otis, his friend, is a farmyard puppy. A river runs by the farm and there is a dock where Milo and Otis play. One day, when they are playing hide-and-seek, Milo hides in a wooden box floating near the dock. Suddenly, the box gets carried away in the current. Otis follows on shore trying to rescue Milo but the river takes the frightened kitten far from the farm. This film is the story of their friendship, their adventures, and how they grow up and return to the farm with their own families.
Benefits — "The Adventures of Milo and Otis" has excellent developmental and moral lessons including: loyalty among friends, devotion to family, tolerance among people, and the risks of disobeying parents. It can also serve as an opportunity to talk to young children about the process of birth and the animals shown in the movie. It is a great vocabulary builder.
For more suggestions about how intentional parents can use family movies to foster verbal, social and emotional learning and teach lessons in character education, see Ideas for Talking and Playing Using Family Movies.
New Words — scurrying, overhead, accepted it, annoyed, mood, hayloft, litter, approach, trouble, wandering, swept away, shore, humming, brilliant, worth the trouble, in an uproar, commotion, top rung of the hen house, stick around, watch dog, usual string of gawkers, got the best of, Freeze!, dead meat, punk, weird, local, snoops, dig up some scandal, attention was focused somewhere else, mixed up, settle the score, downstream, drifting, close call, came up with a much more sensible plan, rose, eyes flashing, mysterious, reflection of the moon, trembling, chilly, misty, just around the bend, given up his chase, hot pursuit, skip the whole thing.
For new words as they are used in the movie, See Phrases Using Vocabulary Words.
TALKING FOR VERBAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENTCONVERSATION STARTERS
Which character was your favorite? — If you could have any of the characters in the movie as a friend, which would you choose? — Why is that?
→ Always encourage your child to form opinions and to share them.What kinds of fun things did Milo and Otis find in the world away from the farm?
What kinds of scary things did they find?
What kinds of places are shown in the movie that are far away from the farm?
→ Just talking with your child fosters verbal, social and emotional learning.Would you like to live on a farm? What kinds of animals would you have?
→ Young children love Story Time.
DISCUSSIONS BASED ON THEMES IN THE MOVIE
Select questions appropriate for your child.
1. Milo tells Otis when he meets him that "Deep down we're all cats." Otis responds that no, "Deep down inside I'm a dog." Does this stop them from being friends? Talking About It — "No". They are friends because they like playing together, care for each other, and look out for one another.
2. How are Milo and Otis different from each other? How are they alike? Why do you think they get along so well? Talking About It — Milo is a cat and Otis is a dog. Their personalities are different, too. Milo is very outgoing and adventurous. Otis is cautious and serious. They get along so well for lots of reasons. They like the same games. They have affection for each other. They take care of each other. (Otis goes on a long journey to try and bring Milo back home.) In addition, they have many things in common. They both grew up on the same farm. They are both loyal and trustworthy. Both of them fall in love and have babies. Another reason Milo and Otis get along so well is because their differences are complementary.
→ When a parent takes a concept from the movie seriously, a child will start thinking about the lessons of the film. Often, it only takes one comment to start a child's mind going.3. Why did Otis get upset when Milo met Joyce? Why were his feelings hurt? Talking About It — Otis was upset because Milo wanted to spend more time with Joyce than with him. Otis thought his friend didn't care about him anymore. What he didn't realize at first is that friends can have many different kinds of relationships at the same time. In the end, Otis found Sondra and understood why Milo was so wrapped up in Joyce. He also learned that he and Milo were still best friends. Milo gave him fish for his puppies. When their families met in the spring they all became friends and returned together to the farm.
→ You can talk about a movie at any time: right after it is over, in the car on the way to school, during quiet time, or before bed.4. Point out that when Otis followed his friend down the river he was applying The Golden Rule. If he had been trapped in a box floating down a river, he would have wanted Milo to try to save him.
→ Here is a modern formulation of the Rule. Have your child memorize this or another version. Repeat it to your child often when a decision about how to act must be made: "In every situation, act toward others in the same way that you would want others to act toward you." Show your child how to apply it in his or her own life. Let your child see you apply the Rule in decisions that you make.5. What makes places like the forest and the swamp so scary? Talking About It — The forest is dark and creepy, and there are lots of bugs and unknown animals. The swamp is murky and scary, and sometimes it gets foggy. We all feel a little nervous in unfamiliar places, like a new school, a different neighborhood, etc. This happens to everyone. Tell your child that an important part of growing up is learning how to tell the dangerous places from the safe places. Once we get used to the safe places, like a new school, they will become less scary and usually quite comfortable. Ask your child if he or she recalls being nervous or scared in a new place and to tell you what happened. Tell your child about some of your experiences becoming comfortable in new surroundings. Point out that people can find really fun and exciting things in new places (as when Milo found the beautiful meadow).
→ Don't feel obligated to cover everything in this Guide. One or two questions are all that some children will tolerate. However, if your child watches the movie more than once, on each occasion start a new conversation or pick a new activity. This will enhance verbal development and increase the number of lessons your child takes from the film.TeachWithMovies.com is proud to be a Character Counts Six Pillars Partner. Character Counts promotes ethics education through the Six Pillars of Character.
PLAYING FOR GROWTH
Animaland is a kid friendly site with lots of information on all kinds of animals, fun games and reading suggestions. Animal Diversity Web has a dense but easily searchable index about animals.
After this activity ask your child which are his or her favorite animals. Then ask him or her to explain why they chose this animal.
2. Color your favorite animal — Find blank pictures on the Internet of different animals seen in the movie. Print them out, and have your child color the pictures and write the names of the animals. Cut out different animals and paste them onto a picture of their preferred habitat. One source for blank pictures is National Geographic Print-N-Go Coloring Book.
3. Build Milo and Otis's farm — Use blocks and other toys to build Milo and Otis' farm. Then take some stuffed animals or plastic animals and make a story based on the movie.
Stories are essential tools for verbal development, social-emotional learning, and character education. Intentional parents can use family movies as a basis for storytelling.
Repeat the story of the movie at bedtime, on a rainy day, or at any quiet time. Let your child correct you if you make a mistake and, better yet, encourage your child to tell you the story. Your child's imaginative and verbal capacities will be enhanced if you invent new characters and create situations that are not in the movie. To learn more about enhancing growth and development through stories told to children, go to How to Tell Bedtime Stories . . . Any Time.
Here is a bedtime story elaborating on a theme in "The Adventures of Milo and Otis."
Once upon a time, two kittens, brother and sister, lived on a farm. Jersey was about two minutes older than Jake. She had white fur and orange paws that were lightning fast. Jake was brown with patches of white. While not as quick with his paws, Jake was stronger than his sister.
Bridges to Reading — The Adventures of Milo and Otis: A Storybook Based on the Enchanting Movie for Children, by Mark Saltzman, Scholastic, Inc., New York, is an excellent book to read to children. When your child starts reading, play the movie with subtitles in English or with captions.
We also recommend the following: Owl Moon, by Jane Yollen, Philomel, 1987 (ages 4 - 8) and The Midnight Farm, by Reeve Lindbergh and Susan Jeffers, Puffin, 1995 (ages 4 - 8).
Talking and playing based on family movies is an excellent way to enhance verbal skills and foster social and emotional learning. It's also a great opportunity for character education and increases communication between parent and child. When fathers and mothers make entertainment an engine for their child's growth and development, they are practicing intentional parenting at its best.
Check out TWM's Index of Guides to Talking and Playing for Growth. For all of the TeachWithMovies.com indexes, click here.
This web page was written by James Frieden and Lauren Humphrey. Revised on September 1, 2009.
© by TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. All rights reserved. DVD covers are shown by permission of Amazon.com TeachWithMovies.org®, TeachWithMovies.com®, Talking and Playing with Movies, and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc.