I love short films by Pixar! They are just adorable! I remember when I first saw For The Birds and Presto and just felt my little black heart melt. Then Piper which is seriously beyond adorable – and, naturally, Boundin!
When Pixar released a new short film on 18.02 I knew I had to see it immediately and once I watched it I knew it would make a brilliant lesson on fear, courage, love, friendship and trust. A lesson we all need – just watch this short (you might need a tissue though):
It’s a great story to follow. With lower levels it might be necessary to prepare some guiding questions (e.g. What kind of cat is it? – it may be necessary to introduce the expression a stray kitten), but with more advanced students it’s great to make them think about the next event.
My choice of “stop and ask” is as follows:
0:57 – Let’s talk about this animal. Is it happy? Does it have a home? Is it a nice and snuggly kitten? Why do you think he’s alone? For more advanced learners: What happened to him? Was he left by his mother or thrown away?
1:23 – What about the dog? Is it a nice and friendly dog? Do you think the dog and the cat will be friends? For more advanced learners: Do you recognise the dog breed (pitbull)? Are those dogs generally friendly?
2:03 – What is the difference between those animals? Are they happy, sad, angry or scared? For more advanced learners: Compare the differences between the animals and their body language.
3:10 – If you have students who are not possessed by cats, they may ask whether the kitten is normal. Anyone who has ever had a cat will say yes, this is a typical cat behaviour, nothing to worry about. The question, however is – what do you think happens next?
3:34 – Why is the cat afraid? For more advanced learners: Why do you think the dog was given a plush toy to rip apart? Why do you think the man patted him on the head?
3:52 – What happened to the dog? For younger learners it may be safer to explain the dog was beaten by his owner, for older students it may be a good idea to explain dog fighting and the fact that pitbulls were often bred for fights. This may lead to the discussion on animal cruelty, and it’s up to you to follow the discussion now or schedule it as an after-film activity.
4:19 – What will happen now?
4: 42 – Why did the cat scratch the dog? Was the dog angry? Was the cat angry? It may be a good moment to elicit the answer that sometimes when someone is afraid of something they don’t run away but attack. For older learners it may be a good point to notice that sometimes it’s the fear that leads to violence.
6:02 – What happened? Was the cat afraid? Why do you think he approached the dog? Do you think they will become friends now? What will happen now?
6:39 – Why did they run away? What will the man do? What will happen with the dog and the cat?
6:58 – Are the pets happy now? What do you think happens with them? How do they live?
7:31 – What happened? Was the cat afraid of the woman? Why? Was the woman afraid of the dog? Why? Was the dog afraid of the woman? What do you think happens next? What would you do?
Follow-up activities (various levels):
- Is it easy to make new friends?
- Share the story of your best friend.
- What do you think comfort zone is? Should we stay in it? Is it easy to leave it? How do we leave our comfort zone?
- Is fear the source of prejudice? How can we overcome it?
- Can an animal be a best friend of a human?
For little children – draw a picture of the cat and the dog happy in their forever home.
For kids – make a comic strip about an average day of the cat and the dog with their new family (use Present Simple).
For teens – write the story from the perspective of the cat/dog.