SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING: Ambition; Breaking Out; Coming of Age; Leadership; Redemption.
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS: Responsibility; Citizenship.
AT A GLANCE: Age: 5 – 8; MPAA Rating — PG; Animated; 2012; 86 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.
*Note: The Development of This Guide is Still in Progress.
The Lorax is adapted from Dr. Seuss’ famous book of the same name. In this thought-provoking tale, a young boy, Ted, seeks to impress his crush by finding her a tree. Thneedville, where they live, has no trees at all, and Ted learns that this is the work of a man called the Once-ler. The Once-ler tells Ted about the Lorax, a creature who had protected the wonderful Truffula trees. The Once-ler chopped down all of the Truffula trees in existence, trying to build up his business and become successful. This hurt the environment, and Thneedville, taking away all the clean air and beauty of nature. Ted, working with the Once-ler, convinces the town to fight back for their right to have clean air and a healthy place to live, and a very special Truffula tree grows once again.
This movie teaches children about the importance of protecting their environment and that nature is not something disposable and pointless. It shows the power of perseverance and warns against the dangers of being too greedy and of not thinking about others.
There are a few mild language issues (idiot, loser, a muffled “damn it!”).
manufacture, satisfaction, invention, failure, success, optimism, summoned, mystical, legendary, guardian, fraud, conscience, regret, oxygen, photosynthesis.
TALKING FOR VERBAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Why did Ted visit the Once-ler?
→ Just talking with your child fosters verbal, social and emotional learning. 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.
→ Exercise memory skills by asking about the story, the characters, and the plot. Keep it light and fun.
Who was the Lorax?
→ Open-ended questions will help get a discussion going.
The Once-ler asks “Who cares if a few trees are dying?” Why do we need trees?
→ Always encourage your child to form opinions and to share them.
How did O’Hare get started bottling air?
→ Young children love Story Time.
DISCUSSIONS BASED ON THEMES IN THE MOVIE
Select questions appropriate for your child.
1. It’s easy for us to make excuses when we’re doing something that we know isn’t right, especially when it gets us something we want. Does this make it okay? Talking About It — No. Most people get a little greedy from time to time, but it’s important to remember The Golden Rule: treat others as you would want others to treat you. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t benefit you. If you share a toy with a friend who wants to play with it, you don’t have a toy to play with, but you’re making the world a better place by being kind and thoughtful, and setting a good example for everyone around you.
2. What happened to the animals when the Once-ler chopped down all the trees? Talking About It — When the Once-ler chopped down all of the Truffula trees, many bad things started happening. There was oil in the water, smog in the air, no food to eat, and no shelter to stay in. Remember what the Lorax said to the Once-ler? “Thanks to you and your hacking and smogging and glubbing, they can’t live here anymore. So I’m sending them off. Hopefully they’ll be able to find a better place out there somewhere.” All of the creatures of Thneedville had to flee because the Once-ler ruined their homes.
Could something like this happen in real life? Maybe, that’s why we need to be careful with our “natural resources”. We need to save as much water as we can, make sure we turn off lights and electronics when we’re not using them, and be aware of how much trash we make.
3. The Once-ler says that he has “done nothing illegal, I have my rights, and I intend to keep on biggering and biggering and turning more Truffula trees into Thneeds!” Is that true— Does it matter that he everything he has done has been legal? Talking About It — Just because something is legal doesn’t make it the right thing to do. People who care about others and their community don’t think or act in the way the Once-ler did.
4. Ted, trying to save the Truffula trees (and Thneedville) with the one seed he has, tells the Once-ler, “Nobody cares about trees anymore!” The Once-ler says, “Then make them care! Plant the seed in the middle of town where everyone can see. Change the way things are. I know it may seem small and insignificant, but it’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” What does this mean? Can one person really make a difference? Talking About It — A few people can make a big difference and lots of people can each make a little difference that adds up to a big difference.
→ 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.
PLAYING FOR GROWTH
1. Growing minds: Learning about how seeds grow and change is really interesting and there are many fun projects you can do at home! Plant seeds (flower seeds, herb seeds, lima beans, etc) in individual cups or planters and mark them with a letter. Then experiment! Does all sun, some sun, or all shade make plants grow faster? Does water or juice make them grow better? Do plants do better inside or outside? Keep notes on which cups are growing healthier. Visit KidsGardening for more tips and ideas!
2. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle: There are many ways to reuse the items that we throw away or recycle. Collect clean bottles (rinse them out if you need), boxes, paper towel tubes, and other items from your recycling bin. Build a robot with the pieces! Have a contest with a friend to see who can build the most interesting robot! Learn how to knit using “yarn” made from shopping bags. Make a bowling alley using bottles. More ideas can be found by visiting the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or the Science kids website.
3. Write like the Dr.: Dr. Seuss was an incredible writer with a very amazing imagination. He invented new worlds, new creatures, and new words. You can write like him, too! Pick three of your favorite animals, write down their names, and then rearrange the letters to come up with a brand new creature! (Let’s say you pick a dog, elephant, and zebra. It could become a zelephog.) What does this new creature look like? What kinds of skills does this creature have? Where does this creature live? Write a story about your brand new creature and be sure to add in plenty of bright illustrations!
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 the characters in the movie. The incidents in your stories should explore the themes of the movie.
This one is a Poem:
Once upon a time, there lived a girl who loved to play outside. She’d run and jump, and swing and spin, and always used the slide. Her name was Ann, she had brown eyes, and she lived next to a park. And she was there, rain or shine, from morning until dark.
Ann loved the playground and the garden, but her favorite time was when She reached the green, lush forest edge and visited the “glen”. The glen was where the creatures lived, animals big and small. Some had antlers, some had tails, and Ann, she loved them all.
Ann gave them each a different name, she named the sweet doe “Dawn” She named the big steer “Roger”, and “Sam” was for the fawn. She chose a name for each small squirrel, each owl in each tree And when out of names, she used numbers, starting “1, 2, 3”.
To this special place Ann would bring anyone who would look Until one scary afternoon, when the glen’s ground shook and shook. Rumbling through the peaceful hills, and crashing through the brush Came yellow bulldozers with painted signs that read “Hamilton and Krush”.
Ann ran up to the angry wheels and yelled at them to “stop!” And a big, gruff man with heavy brows said “Move, you little sop!” Ann stood her ground and asked them why they’d shown up here. The man threw her a crumpled paper ball and said “This will make it clear.”
She opened up the paper, unsure what she might find. “NOTICE OF PARK DEMOLTION” it said, and on the bottom it was signed. Ann looked confused and the man said, “We’re tearing it all up, you fool!” My boss is taking all this land to build his condos and a pool!”
Ann ran from the bulldozer, ran from the park, ran straight into the town. She marched into her Town Hall where she slammed the paper down On the desk of the receptionist who listened to her plea, And sent her up the elevator to floor thirty-three.
All day long, Ann talked to people, townsfolk young and old She talked and talked til her voice was gone and the air outside turned cold. Finally someone handed her a sheet that said “Town Hall Petition” And told her to collect 1000 signatures, if she could find that many who’d listen.
Ann ran home and ate her dinner then curled into bed And as she fell asleep, she kept replaying what the man had said. “We’re tearing it up!” She wept. All the park’s creatures would soon be gone. She worried about her animal friends, but was asleep before too long.
The next morning she filled her pockets with pens and set out on her task: To get 1,000 signatures. All she’d have to do was ask! She asked her neighbors and her friends, and their friends’ friends’ neighbors, too. She asked her teachers, and her doctors, and her soccer coach Ms. Sue.
She worked all weekend, from dawn til dusk, getting people to care About this very special park, that some didn’t even know was there. And pretty soon, the town got mad about the park situation, So they told the magazines and the papers and even the local news station.
More and more people added on to Ann’s ever growing list, To save the park, stop the condos, kick ’em out; you get the gist. Finally, Ann counted up the names that filled the petition’s lines Nine hundred ninety-eight… nine hundred ninety-nine.
One short. One short. That was it. And she has asked all of the people. Nobody else in town could sign at all; she’d even had the bell ringer in the steeple. In despair Ann ran to the park, to say goodbye to her sweet glen. She raced through the trees, angry and sad, but she froze right in place when…
A big, gruff man with heavy brows said “Hey, sop. What’s the rush?” He was standing next to his bulldozer that said “Hamilton and Krush”. There was something different about him though, maybe in his voice, Ann said “I got the town to care about this park, and now we don’t have a choice.”
“You’re going to tear it down, I know, I’m one signature short.” And Ann expected him to laugh or tease but all he did was snort. “One signature? Just one?” he asked, “To save this little glen?” He snatched the Petition from her hands then motioned for a pen.
Ann didn’t know what it was he wanted, or if he was being cruel. He smiled. “You’ve changed my mind, you little sop. I was acting like a fool. This place is special, it helps the town and the animals who live there. I quit. My boss can build his condos on the moon for all I care.”
And with a cheer, the man grabbed the pen and added on his name, 1,000 signatures on her list, finished by “Alexander P. Monflame.” They walked to the Town Hall together, followed by a lengthy line Of one person plus the other nine hundred ninety-nine.
They offered the petition, stamps were stamped, and the crowd let out a whoop, The park was saved and on their shoulders Ann was carried back to her stoop. “You did it, sop, you changed it all” Alexander said, “Three cheers for Ann!” “It’s not just me,” Ann said to the crowd, “Try hard and anyone can!”
And to this day, the park remains, with the playground and the slide, With the glen tucked away in the back, the animals safe inside. And a sign out front, built long ago, set among trees gnarled and curled Reads “Ann’s Park”, and underneath, “If You Try, You Can Change The World.”
BRIDGES TO READING
The Lorax is available at your local library, and be sure to check out other Dr. Seuss books, too.