Holiday Fun: Language Comprehension Activities Using your Favorite Movies!
Besides being fun and relaxing, movies can also be a great jumping off point for valuable conversations. We’ve rounded up four favorite holiday movies and given you some suggestions for ways to talk about bullying, what to do in an emergency and how to prepare your child for changes in routine this holiday season.
Elf (2003) PG | How to Handle Bullies
Buddy’s half-brother Michael is pelted with snowballs by some bullies from school, and Buddy is able to use some elf magic to defend himself. Real life situations aren’t always solved as quickly and neatly. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, kids with differences and special needs have a greater than 60% chance of being bullied. Students who have a weakness in concept imagery — the ability to create an imaged gestalt or whole — may have trouble keeping up in conversations with their peers, understanding jokes/ social cues or recognizing bullying when it occurs.
Use imagery to help your child prepare to navigate challenging peer situations. Ask, “What do you picture a bully might say or do?” or “What do you see yourself doing if a classmate says unkind things to you?” Click here for more information on how to identify and handle bullying.
For middle school and high school students, it’s helpful to remind them that to be careful about what they say or post online. It’s often easier to be harsh to a classmate from behind a keyboard, but the effects can be just as damaging for the person on the receiving end.
Home Alone (1990) PG | What to do if You’re Separated in a Crowd
Luckily, cell phones and electronic boarding passes make it much more difficult to head to the airport without your son, but it’s still important for your child to know what to do if he gets separated from you in a crowded mall. Having a conversation while everyone is safe and calm can be a great way to stimulate your child’s imagery and critical thinking — just in case. “If you couldn’t find me in a store, what do you picture you would do?” Offer suggestions of people to ask for help: a store employee, a police officer, a mother with children.
If your child is old enough, have them memorize your cell phone number (having them draw the letters in the air with their fingers can help cement it in their visual memory). Keep a recent photo of your child on your cell phone and dress them in bright colors when you will be in a crowded place. It’s helpful to dress yourself in the same color as stressful, scary situations can make it hard to remember details.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) PG-13 | Prepare for Visitors
Clark’s stress was compounded by having relatives visiting, and that can be difficult for children or teenagers, especially if changes to a routine are unsettling or frustrating. Prepare your son or daughter for any changes that may happen — whether they’ll be giving up their bed for Grandma, having to wear uncomfortable, fancy clothes or trying unfamiliar foods at a holiday party — by discussing what will happen beforehand. Come up with a plan geared toward whatever is most challenging for your child and help them picture what to do and say if they’re uncomfortable. Click here for more tips on how to help your child during family visits or social gatherings.
The Santa Clause (1994) PG | Stimulate Your Child’s Mental Imagery
While Tim Allen’s transformation into Kris Kringle is the focus of the movie, Laura and Neal Miller reminisce about the gift they wanted but didn’t get when they were younger. Ask your children to think about the best gift they’ve ever gotten, but instead of having them tell you what it was, have them describe it to you and see if you can guess based on the imagery they provide! Tell them to picture it, and then ask questions about the color, size, shape, texture etc. “Your words are making me picture something brown and furry with two floppy ears. How big should I picture it?”
You can also turn this activity into a game on its own. Choose a category and take turns describing and guessing. For example: “I’m picturing a person with a red triangle hat and a long, white beard. I see him standing in the snow next to eight brown reindeer…”
For more ideas on how to build language comprehension during the holiday season, check out our blog about family read-aloud time.