Intentional Parenting Family Movies
Talking and Playing for Growth With . . .
Moral-Ethical Emphasis — Responsibility; Caring; Citizenship.
At a Glance — Age: 5-8; MPAA Rating -- G; Animated; 2006; 116 minutes; Color; Available at Amazon.com.
Description — "Cars" is the story of a talented rookie race car named Lightning McQueen. He is so obsessed with winning that he can't be a friend to anyone. McQueen's career is threatened when he accidentally winds up in a small town off the main road. Trying to make it to the racetrack for a big race, McQueen damages property. He is arrested and forced to repair the damages before he can leave. In his travail, McQueen finds true friends and learns that winning isn't everything.
Benefits — Talking about this movie and playing games based on it are excellent ways to interact with your child. For car-fanatic children, it is great fun to look for all the different models. In addition, "Cars" can help teach kids how to be a good sport, work well with others, take responsibility for their actions, and be a true friend.
Possible Problems: — There are a few gratuitous uses of word the "hell".
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: tow truck, tank, fire engine, semi-truck, gasoline, tires, headlights, engine, oil, racetrack, fame, victory, sportsmanship, defeat, responsibility, pit crew, radiator, spring, piston.
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.Why was Lightning McQueen trying to get to California?
What actions did Lightning McQueen take that made him wind up in Radiator Springs?
Who wound up winning the Piston Cup race?
→ Just talking with your child fosters verbal, social and emotional learning.If you could drive any of the cars in the movie, which would you choose? How come?
→ Young children love Story Time.
DISCUSSIONS BASED ON THEMES IN THE MOVIE
Select questions appropriate for your child.
1. Was Lightning McQueen a good friend at the beginning of the movie? How about at the end? Talking About It — He wasn't a good friend to anybody at the beginning of the movie. Not only did he fire his pit crew, but he also let Mack down by falling asleep and making him drive overnight without a nap. Lightning actually didn't have any friends at the beginning of the movie. However, by the end, he had found good friends in Radiator Springs and he had made up with Mack.
→ 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.2. How did Lightning show that "winning isn't everything"? Talking About It — At the last race, Lightning decided to help The King get to the finish line, instead of taking first place himself. Everyone was proud of Lightning because he did the right thing, and put the needs of someone else before his own. Because of this, Lightning was the hero of the race, even though he didn't win. (In this situation, Lightning applied the Golden Rule.)
→ 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.3. Lightning McQueen didn't listen to his pit crew, and wouldn't change his tires during the Piston Cup Race. What were the consequences of this decision? Talking About It — Though he was in first place and going very fast, his tires blew out and two other cars were able to catch up with him. Because he didn't take the advice of the pit crew (the cars who knew best) he didn't win the race. As The King said, "You ain't gonna win unless you got good folks behind you".
→ 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.4. At first, Lightning looked down on "rusty, old cars". What did he learn from Mater? Talking About It — He learned that different people can be friends, and that just because someone looks odd and run down doesn't mean they are less of a person. Mater taught him all of this, and also how to be a good friend.
5. Did Lightning have a responsibility to fix Radiator Springs? What do his actions tell us about Lightning? Talking About It — Yes. If you break or destroy something, even by accident, you have an obligation to fix it, replace it, or pay for it. McQueen didn't demonstrate responsibility by constantly trying to run away. If he had just focused on doing the job right the first time, he probably could have made it to California in time to talk to Dinoco. His actions tell us that, at first, he was very self-centered and only cared about his own problems. In the end, he became more caring, responsible and mature, and put others before himself. 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
2. What kind of cars go by? — Sit outside in the front yard, or go to a place where you can sit and safely watch a busy street (like a coffee shop or a park). Bring along a notebook and some pencils. With your child, count how many cars go past. Classify them into groups, by make, model, color, or size. Draw some of your favorites. Talk about what makes cars different from each other (two doors/four doors, sedan/convertible/pick-up truck, etc). See if you can spot some cars from the movie (like a fire truck, tow truck, police car, or even a Porsche!).
3. The Piston Cup Race — You can hold your own "Piston Cup Race" in a backyard or at a park. With your child, make your own Piston Cup (you can print out and color a trophy, using a blank color sheet like this). Get your family and friends involved: have each person wear a different colored shirt. You can even put racing numbers on the back with masking tape. (You can get as elaborate as you like, with checkered flags, start/finish lines, etc.) Pick what kind of race you want to have (three-legged, running, hopping, sack race, etc). Then, ready, set, go! The winner takes the cup!
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. Both of you can invent new adventures for Lightning McQueen and his friends. 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.
Below is a story to read to your child. If you read it at bedtime and your child falls asleep before you are finished, complete the story some other time.
Mustang wasn't an old car, but he felt like he was ancient. His light blue paint was dull and scratched. He didn't take care of himself by going to the car wash. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to the garage for a tune up.
Bridges to Reading: — If your child has a favorite car in particular, head to the library and find some books about it. You might also try looking at car-oriented magazines. Ask your local librarian for books about cars, driving, and racing.
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. It was revised on July 30, 2009.
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