|My family (minus my photographer hubby)|
This is movie is true to form for Disney. A story has been artfully woven from the footage the photographers were able to get while following these animals over the course of the year. You see the bears in the den after birth, exploring the new snow-covered land around them, attempt to navigate the dangerous world of other bears, and desperately try to find enough salmon and other food to make it to the next winter. The scenery itself is breathtaking and the bear cubs are just too cute!
My two children, ages 7 and 4, (well, I did take all 3, but my 6 month old was more interested in me than the movie ;)) really were very invested in the movie by the end. They enjoyed the visuals and narration. I think the "G" quality of the movie really spoke to them. There were a few parts that had my daughter snuggled up a bit closer to me (the single male bears are territorial and do fight quite a bit...scary for some of the younger folks) but overall, the kids learned about the life of the bears and enjoyed seeing their trials and tribulations over the first year of life. This clip here was their favorite part. They couldn't stop talking about the crabs and the bears!
As a teacher, my mind was spinning on how I could incorporate this movie into my classroom. I think what really spoke to me was how the filmmakers were able to take a nonfiction nature film and weave a "fictional" story into it. There was a plot and end goal (the bears were trying to find food, make it to the "golden pond" and not starve.) There was personification through the narration. There was suspense and action. I think that using the elements of both fiction and nonfiction, the storytellers were able to grab the audience and bring them in. Showing students how both of these genres can be woven together would be a great lesson (or set of lessons.) With all of our talk about text dependent questions and pulling evidence from the text, I think a lot could be used with this movie along those lines.
Here are also some activities that Disney Nature has put out to accompany the film. There are some great photos in here that would definitely be a good addition to your classroom, as well as some good lesson starters that could spark even deeper exploration of issues facing these bears and our environment.
Do you ever use nature films in your room in this way? Are you planning on seeing this one? I would be interested to hear your thoughts!
disclaimer: Though I was invited to this movie by Disney Nature, the opinions above are in no way influenced by that. The thoughts are my own.