Watch This, Do That: Monsters Inc.

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Monsters, Inc., the ComEd of the monster world. Our Pixar protagonists, James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, work at the plant and they’ve got quotas to meet. Every night, they pop into the human world via children’s bedroom closets and scare the bejesus out of kiddos as they’re falling asleep. They bottle up those screams to keep the lights on in their world – literally. 

It’s a mean gig, and some less than savory monsters take too much joy in the mission (and bend the rules), but Mike and “Sully” push back against the corporate culture to make it kinder. The animated G-rated movie has lots of take-aways for kids. Here are a few to discuss: 

  • The power of friendship. Examples of friendship include the teamwork shown by Mike and Sully, and Sully’s devotion to a little girl he calls “Boo,” who sees beyond his monstrous persona. What friend is your child’s Mike? Do they treat their younger siblings as nicely as Sully treats Boo? Ask them. 
  • Alternative energy? Monster world assumes kids’ screams is the only fuel, but it turns out there is an alternative power source –laughter. Lesson to kids: The importance of innovation and openness to new ideas. Plus, a dash of eco-awareness as well. 
  • Fear-mongering. This 2001 movie, released around 9/11, makes a case that fear is never the answer and those who try to stoke it in our culture are missing one fundamental truth: we are all more alike than we are unlike. And that includes monsters too.

Monsters Inc.-inspired activities

Now that you’ve watched the movie, get the kids off the couch and have some screen-free fun inspired by Mike and Sully.  Here are some ideas: 

  • Color monsters. Download this Monster Coloring Book and have the kids color some pictures for friends, family or your fridge. 
  • Get moving. Host a mini Monster Mash dance party. Stream the Monsters, Inc. soundtrack with the Randy Newman’s sweet Oscar-winning song, “If I Didn’t Have You.” It’s a particularly nice reminder of what’s really important – the people we love. 
  • I Spy challenge. Channel Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed monster, with a game of I Spy. Watch this video reminder of the rules. Pick a room inside the house or head outside to play while taking a walk or going on a drive. 
  • Give kids permission to scream. On this one occasion, let them scream as loud as a long as they can hold it. Set your timer on your phone and measure which child holds their scream the longest. Give the winner special props or a prize. 
  • Spread laughter. Read some classic kids jokes and have your kids pick their favorite and memorize it. Now, challenge them to share their joke with three people they want to make laugh. Let them call those people to tell them their joke and lift their energy during this trying time.

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