When we were in Montreal, Ella and I went to see the live production of Disney’s The Lion King. It was Ella’s first theatre experience and she has not stopped talking about it since.
So when my friend Alecia over at Learning 2 Walk mentioned that her daughter is also really into The Lion King movie, we knew we’d have to collaborate on a series of Disney Preschool Lesson Plans.
Now, there are going to be some readers who will just be livid that I suggested any form of connection between Reggio or the Montessori Method and a Disney movie, but I think using a child’s real interest as a springboard for deeper learning is something we should all consider — no matter where that interest comes from.
(After all, I did write a post called How to Make a Unit Study from a TV Show.)
While Alecia and I used different methods, we both used our children’s interests to explore wild animals and African culture. With older children, a film critique or character analyses could be used if you were interested in really focusing on the film itself, rather than using it as a segue into other learning.
First up, the kids and I made a batch of healthy animal crackers and the kids eagerly ate them while watching the movie.
After the movie, I had the kids help me make an African-inspired lunch and we talked about their favourite aspects of the movie and what they’d each like to explore further.
I gave them little bits of new information to see what sparked their curiousity:
- Did they know Mufasa is actually one of many words for lion in the Arabic language?
- Did they know that the Lion King was set in Africa?
- Did they know that people also live in Africa and some Africans see lions everyday, while others never see them?
- Did they know that some chocolate comes from Africa?
We explored some great children’s books about and from Africa, and looked at some pictures from National Geographic that I laminated so the kids could really handle the pictures or use them in their art without getting frustrated.
Ella enjoyed learning “I just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Circle of Life” from our Disney Songbook, and we even created a “Circle of Life” yoga sequence. We also had fun moving like wild animals that could be found in Africa.
I put out some spices typically used in African cooking for the kids to grind, smell, and later use in preparing some Berber food. This was a great practical life activity that really engaged their senses.
I put out a felt board with several safari-inspired pieces for them to create their own stories with as well as a basket of safari animal finger puppets; this is an invitation I put together specifically for my budding actor, Mister E.
I love Safari Toobs, we used the majority of a Wild Toob and a couple of animals from the Big Cats Toob for labeling and matching. I paired them with this 3-part card set from Montessori Print Shop, as the children are just fascinated with the miniatures so they are great for when they are in this sensitive period for language.
I put out this set of African flag 3 part cards, and our African Continent Map (which my friend interestingly pointed out is aligned the wrong way on the board — I’m not sure why this is the way it is made, but so it is!)
The children have previously made their own felt world maps, and I encouraged them all to make their own African continent maps. (We are tracing rather than pin-pushing as I cannot find pin styluses here and discourage the use of thumbtacks as a replacement.)
Once the children are done their traced continent maps, we can use these pin flags to label them.
Mostly for the toddlers, I set out a Lion King-themed sensory bin, with a variety of green pompoms as the base that one of the toddlers helped me sort from a giant bin of multi-coloured pompoms. We added one big orange pompom for the African Sun, and then a variety of soft and plastic animals and some plastic trees.
I also set up a mini-Safari on our train table using this wooden set, which the preschoolers and toddlers loved equally.
We also watched a live stream of an African Safari on my phone, which was really cool but keep in mind the time zone differences when you’re watching.
The children will soon be receiving their continent boxes (I’ll be sharing them with you in February), which have taken months to put together, and are continuing to work on their felt Africa maps. I’m also so pleased that they enjoyed the African foods that we explored, and we’ll continue making the chickpea wat often.
We had so much fun exploring African culture and learning about wild animals, and I can’t wait to explore next month’s Disney Preschool Unit Study with them.
I hope you enjoyed all of the activities that we explored for this Disney Preschool Unit Study for the Lion King.