Chimpanzee: The Movie

upper grade ideas to use with the movie Chimpanzee
Let me preface this by saying that my family was invited to see this movie (at the gorgeous El Capitan theater in Hollywood...which in and of itself is an experience), however all of the opinions and ideas are my own.  :)

One of my jobs as a teacher is to find many different ways to approach the curriculum.  Reading books is fine, but there is something to be said for experiencing the world first hand.   As I go through my day, I am always looking for the next "connection" that can be made to the standards I am to teach.  When I watched the movie Chimpanzee, which opens this Friday, April 20, my mind was going crazy with all of the curricular connections that were popping up!  Most notably, comprehension skills (probably because we are in crunch time to The TEST)

This movie, which was filmed in the jungles of Africa, centers around a family of Chimpanzees.  Like any family, there is a hierarchy and order to which it functions.  At the heart of this movie is the newborn chimp, Oscar.   He is a precocious little guy eager to learn everything in sight.  Throughout the movie, the filmmakers followed Oscar and his family on their pursuit of food...the lifeline of the jungle.  At one point, a territory "battle" with a rival family of Chimpanzees leaves Oscar an orphan.  He is eventually adopted by the alpha male in the group which, in the end, saves his life.

Compare and Contrast ~

The first thing that stands out in my mind is how alike the Chimpanzee society is to our own.  They are so social, so family oriented.  It is easy to make the connection to human heritage and culture.  While watching, I was struck by the ingenious ways the Chimps found food, used tools, and set up their hunting strategy.  Even the way they made their beds for the night was fascinating!  There are so many similarities to us, it is uncanny.  Comparing and contrasting both societies, human and Chimp, is a great way for the kids to use both literal and inferential skills.

Summarizing ~

Have you seen the trailer for this movie?  Here it is.

What did you get from it?  What do you think is the main idea of the film?  You can have the students watch the trailer and write a paragraph about what they gained from the trailer and why.  What evidence do they have to support their ideas?
Then, actually watch the movie.  Did the expectation set up by the trailer match what was actually occurring on the screen?  I created a little form for you to give your students to help them take notes.

I have to tell you that I didn't think the trailer actually told the full story of the movie.  Now, I know trailers aren't supposed to tell you the whole movie, but I do think they are supposed to give you the basic storyline of the film.  Though the movie was good, and had a really interesting and entertaining story to tell, I have to say that I expected more of the adoption story then there actually was.  This is a great point to make with the students.  How important are details in a summary?  If you leave some out, or play others up, will it skew your ideas about the story being told?

teaching in room 6   education  5th grade  Mrs. Moorman
Here are a few activities to use in your class from Disney.  There are some great rainforest cards to help your students with any research they may be doing. 

Here are some other activities from the official Disney site that include audio and video clips of the movie, as well as standards based lessons to use in your class.   These are mostly science and ecology based ideas (which is why I focused on Language Arts sense in re-writing what is already done ;) )

Overall, I really did like this movie.  It was very much like the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet Documentaries you would see (including some "circle of life" moments)  I would have liked to see more on the adoption story, and I LOVED when they showed how they made the movie at the end of the film.  I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who wanted to see it.  It opens on April 20th.

Here is the "making of" featurette Disney just released.  I LOVE this.  My favorite part of the movie by far.


  1. Wow.. how amazing! I think that is a great idea and I love for children to experience seeing and hearing information firsthand.


  2. I cannot wait for this movie to come out!!!!

    Kindergarten Smiles

  3. Thanks for sharing! My entire SCHOOL is going this coming Monday :)
    To The Square Inch


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