Breaking My Kid’s YouTube Addiction

When my daughter, Mae, was a toddler, I did what many parents do when their kids get over rambunctious or bored to the point of being a pain in the tuckus – I handed her my cell phone. It was preloaded with age appropriate games and coloring apps, and I had it in a sturdy case with a screen protector, so I thought I was doing good. It kept her fairly quiet (except, of course for when she wanted to show my her accomplishments every two minutes), and I was able to complete my chores and errands with some sanity. Eventually, she discovered YouTube, and I responsibly installed the YouTube Kids app on my phone to keep her away from unsuitable material. However, as she grew older, what I thought was a dream solution, turned into a nightmare.

Mae wanted my phone ALL THE TIME, and she would become absolutely evil if she didn’t have it. She grabbed it from the charger when she woke in the morning. She snagged it from me as soon as I picked her up from daycare. She carried it with her throughout the house. She wouldn’t go to the bathroom without it. She even propped it in front of her as she ate. No matter how I tried to distract her from it with other things, she always came back to it the instant the activity was finished. She lost interest in playing with her toys, yet she was constantly begging me to buy the toys she saw being played with on the glorified infomercials that she would watch. If she saw another kid play with it, she felt she had to have it. (It’s amazing to me how many YouTube videos there are with ADULTS playing with toys. I know that it’s a marketing ploy, but it kills me that it actually works! Call me crazy, but watching a grown up trying to play with a preschool toy by themselves doesn’t get much more boring. Mae, however, would watch these ad nauseum.) It got completely out of hand, very quickly. I had an addict on my hands. Although I tried many times to break her of it “cold turkey”, it seemed to make her attachment to the device even stronger.

Now, something you should know about my house – we own a TV, but we do not have any kind of TV channel service or subscriptions. Therefore, our TV is only useful for videos. We have both a VCR and a Blu-ray player, and we occasionally pick up movies and yard sales and thrift stores. We also borrow many DVD’s from our local library. This saves me a ton of money, which is important for any single mother. But I digress…

I watched Mae, to try to understand what it was, exactly, that drew her so passionately to my cell phone. There were two things that I noticed: First, I noticed that she found the sound comforting. Some people need to have the radio or the TV on at all times, because they find a quiet house to be uncomfortable. This was something I could understand. I also notice that she would watch the same YouTube videos over and over… and over… and over… and over…

This was the most valuable connection for me to have made. I had been going to the library trying to find new videos for her to watch, when I should have been repeating her favorites. Now that I had these insights, I felt more ready to try to break her addiction one more time.

I armed myself with her favorite movies, and told her gently that instead of YouTube, we would spend the weekend watching her favorite movies, instead. I watched them with her on the couch, and let her choose each and every one that we watched. We got through the weekend fairly well, but she thought the YouTube deprivation would only last those few days.

She wanted to watch YouTube when I picked her up from school on Monday, and she was grouchy on the way home when I wouldn’t surrender the phone. I reminded her how fine and content she was over the weekend when we only watched movies, and I knew she could do it again. She was pouty, but she complied with the new rule. Her irritability continued for the next few days, until she gradually accepted her YouTube-free fate. Now, she was always on the couch. Did I simply shift her from one addiction to another? I wasn’t sure what to expect, but at least I was able to use my own phone again.

As time went by, I noticed that she had picked up some paper, and was drawing pictures. A movie that she had seen about eight bazillion times was playing in the background, completely ignored by her. Then she began playing with her toys again. By this time, I realized something else – a cell phone is small, and is usually held, inhibiting the use of your hands. Even if it is propped up and not held in your hands, the screen is still small, and you need to be close to it in order to see it clearly, which also inhibits your activities. Now that the TV was the screen that she was watching, she neither had to hold it nor sit close to it, which gave her more freedom of movement. Some of the storylines inspired her to make things, or draw pictures. She danced to songs from musicals.

Eventually, she was no longer content to play solely in front of the television. She wanted me to take her to the park, and arrange playdates. In short, she was watching stories of people living lives (instead of collecting toys), and Mae finally wanted one of her own.


Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Dreamworks) – Love Is Not Restricted To Appearances.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Dreamworks) – 2014 – PG

Ty Burrell, Max Charles,  Ariel Winter, Lauri Fraser, Allison Janney,  Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Zach Callison, Steve Valentine, Stanley Tucci, Lake Bell,  Patrick Warburton, Tom McGrath,  Mel Brooks,  Jess Harnell

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Summary & Lessons:

Mr . Peabody is not your average dog. He is so super intelligent, that he was unable to be accepted by anyone looking for an ordinary pet. So, he concentrated on his own intellectual pursuits and inventions. When he stumbles upon an abandoned baby boy, he decides to give the child what he was never able to obtain for himself – a family. Even though a dog adopting a boy was highly unusual, he strove to educated his new son, Sherman, to give him the best that he could. He invented a time machine (The WABAC) so that he could show Sherman, first hand, all of the lessons that history has to offer.

All was well until Sherman reached school age. Sherman initially loves school, and is noticed right away for his advanced pool of knowledge, especially in history. One fellow student, however, is not impressed. Penny Peterson begins to mock Sherman for having a dog for a father, and a fight breaks out. In the course of the squabble, Sherman bites Penny, and Mr. Peabody is called to the school office. Ms. Grunion, the social worker, clearly expresses her desire to remove Sherman from Mr. Peabody’s custody since she believes the biting to be the result of a boy being adopted by a dog.

In Mr. Peabody’s ferver to keep his son, he invites the Petersons and Ms. Grunion to their home for a dinner party to smooth things over. The children are left alone in Sherman’s room. As Penny taunts Sherman more regarding the historical facts he spoke about in class, Sherman ends up telling her about their secret WABAC machine, and she insists on seeing it.

Several crazy trips throughout various times in history create massive problems for Mr. Peabody & Sherman… and the space-time continuum.


The most obvious educational aspect of this film is the introduction in to various historical figures such as Marie Antoinette, Leonardo Da Vinci and Agamemnon. Although these are a far cry from the true historical stories, they do serve to spark one’s interest in their tales, and can lead to exploration at a local library.

In addition, Mr. Peabody’s adoption of Sherman shows the viewer part of the emotion journey that adoptive families go through when the child does not look like he/she belongs to the parent. Classmates can often be cruel in their teasing, and their victims do not usually possess the maturity to handle the abuse. We see that it is OK to for a child to be different from their parents. 

(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments.)


(Quotes Courtesy of IMDb: Mr. Peabody & Sherman – IMDb)

Sherman: Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody? 

Mr. Peabody: Not “where,” Sherman… “When.” 


Judge:  Mr. Peabody, you are a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. An advisor to heads of state. A captain of industry. Why would you want to adopt a boy? 

Mr. Peabody: Because, your honor, when I found Sherman, it reminded me of how I started out in life. And now, I want to give him the one thing I always wanted. A home. 

Judge: And you’re sure you’re capable of meeting *all* the challenges of raising a human boy? 

Mr. Peabody: With all due respect, how hard could it be? 


[from trailer

Judge: If a boy can adopt a dog, I see no reason why a dog cannot adopt a boy. 


[from trailer

Mr. Peabody: It seems we’ve ripped a hole in the space-time continuum… 

Sherman: Looks like the past is coming to us! 


Mr. Peabody: Why can’t children be so simple? 

Leonardo da Vinci: Because children are not machines, Peabody. Believe me, I tried to build one. Oh! It was creepy. 


Sherman: I love you, Mr. Peabody. 

Mr. Peabody: [after momentarily searching the right answer for him] for I have a deep regard for you as well, Sherman. 

[later on

Mr. Peabody: I… I love you, Sherman. 

Sherman: [With a warm understanding smile] I have a deep regard for you as well, Mr. Peabody. 


Agamemnon: Odysseus, what news do you bring? 

Odysseus: Someone left this for us. 

Agamemnon: A present. Nice. It looks just like *our* horse. 

Odysseus: Should I bring it inside? 

Agamemnon: It’d be rude not to. 

[Odysseus lays down the horse and Peabody pops out

Agamemnon: [laughs] I did *not* see that coming! 


Sherman: Now, can we have some cake? 

Marie Antoinette: Mais, oui. 

Sherman: Oh, yeah, sorry. heh. “May we” have some cake? 

Marie Antoinette: Mais, oui! 

Sherman: Maybe she can’t hear me through the hair. 


Paul Peterson: So, he’s literally a dog. 

Patty Peterson: Paul! 

Mr. Peabody: No, that’s all right. Although, I prefer the term “literate dog.” 


Sherman: He calls it the WABAC. 

Penny: So… where have you gone in it? 

Sherman: Not “where”, Penny, “when.” 


Penny: I’m not Penny anymore. Now, I’m Princess Hatsheput, precious flower of the Nile. 

Mr. Peabody: “Precious,” perhaps, but if you think we’re going to leave you here, you are most definitely in “de-Nile.” 

Sherman: [laughs] I don’t get it. 


Penny: I’m gonna have a big, fat, Egyptian wedding. 

Mr. Peabody: Spoiler alert, King Tut dies young. Are you sure you’ve thought this through? 

Penny: Oh, trust me, I’ve thought it through. I’m getting everything. 


Penny: Um, hold up a second. Can you walk me through that, somebody? 

King Tut: What he means, Penny, is that when I die they’ll kill you too. And then they’ll rip out your organs, stuff them in canopic jars, and then mummify whatever’s left. 

Penny: Okay, I’m seeing this now. Thank you. I’m going to go with them. 


Agamemnon: FYI, a lot of heroes have father issues. My old man is a minotaur. Half man, half bull, all judgement. Ajax, here, strongest guy in the world, but his father never accepted that his real dream was to sing. 

Ajax: [in falsetto] I wanted to be in the Greek Chorus. 

Agamemnon: Uh, yeah, and don’t even get me started about Oedipus. Let’s just say you do *not* want to be at his house over the holidays. It’s awkward. 


Mona Lisa: Leonardo, tell’a me one thing I have’a to smile about. 

Leonardo da Vinci: The sunshine, the pasta. All of the thing that make Italy such a popular tourist destination! 

Mona Lisa: But, I’a have not’a seen any of them, Leonardo! Because I am sitting here all’a day on my abbondanza! 

Sherman:I don’t think that means “chair” in Italian. 


George Washington: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men, and some dogs, are created equal. 


[from trailer

Mr. Peabody: You used time-travel improperly… we must rewrite history in order to save the universe! 


Mr. Peabody: Sherman, don’t you remember why I told you to stay close to me during the French Revolution? 

Sherman: Because after the French Revolution, it was gonna rain? 

Mr. Peabody: Close. I said “After the French Revolution comes… the Reign of Terror!” 


Mr. Peabody: This is the greatest collection of geniuses ever assembled! Surely we can come up with another way of getting to the past. 

Leonardo da Vinci: I can-a build a catapult. And, we go very fast. 

Albert Einstein: But, remember, as you approach the speed of light, gravity will get too strong. 

Isaac Newton: Oh, indeed. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

Agamemnon: How about we just punch that big hole in the face? 


[last lines]

Mr. Peabody: No doubt about it. Every dog should have a boy.

The Incredibles (Disney-Pixar) – Even Supers Need Their Families

The Incredibles (Disney-Pixar) – 2003 – PG

Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Wallace Shawn, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell, Lou Romano

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Summary & Lessons:

Mr. Incredible is such an amazing superhero that he is able to get bad guys on the way to his own wedding. In addition, he is even able to save a suicidal man from jumping off a building by grabbing him mid air, and diving with him through a window of another building.

He confidently arrives at his wedding ceremony to superlady, Elastagirl, and they exchange their vows with the promise of a glorious future. Until, the man whose suicide attempt he thwarted files a lawsuit against him for bodily harm done in the process. This begins a domino effect of other lawsuits against superheros, driving them all underground in exchange for amnesty.

Living  normal lives as normal people, Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible), along with his wife, Helen (Elastagirl), and their kids, Violet, Dash and Jack Jack, struggle to fit into a society that spurns their unique traits. Bob falls into a deep depression from being unable to openly be a “Super”.

When he receives an unexpected offer to secretly re-enter hero work, his excitement accidentally turns his and his family’s lives upside down. As they all fight side by side against a villain determined to destroy all Supers, they discover how how wrong Mr. Incredible was in the old days with insistence that he “work alone”.


Superheros are not the only ones with unique, personal traits. We all have them. Sometimes, however, these traits are hidden away in the hopes of being “normal” and fitting in. The ability to be oneself is very important for emotional well being. We all want to be appreciated for our own talents, however, find such an audience can often be a challenge. Having supportive family and friends to lean on during these challenging times can help to push us through to success. This can be especially true when individual talents can be used together to accomplish a common goal. No one should have to feel that they always need to work alone. Unfortunately, many people have a tendency to isolate themselves when they are feeling down, in an attempt to go it alone. However, by doing so, they deprive themselves of being lifted up by their loved ones.

The supers’ nemesis, Syndrome, shows us the lasting impact that can affect someone who is unable to find the support and encouragement he needed. When he was unable to find someone to route for him, he decided to route against them.

(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments.)


(Quotes Courtesy of IMDb: The Incredibles – IMDb)

Helen: Dash… this is the third time this year you’ve been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet. A more… constructive outlet.

Dash: Maybe I could, if you’d let me go out for sports.

Helen: Honey, you know why we can’t do that.

Dash: But I promise I’ll slow up. I’ll only be the best by a tiny bit.

Helen: Dashiell Robert Parr, you are an incredibly competitive boy, and a bit of a show-off. The last thing you need is temptation.

Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?

Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.

Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.

Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.

Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.


Helen: Now it’s perfectly normal…

Violet: [interrupting] Normal? What do *you* know about normal? What does *anyone* in *this* family know about normal?

Helen: Now wait a minute, young lady…

Violet: We act normal, mom! I want to *be* normal! The only normal one is Jack-Jack, and he’s not even toilet trained!

[Jack-Jack blows a raspberry and bursts out laughing]

Dash: Lucky…

[Violet and Helen look strangely at him]

Dash: Uh, I meant about being normal.


Helen: Tell me you haven’t been listening to the police scanner again.

Bob: Look, I performed a public service. You act like that’s a bad thing.

Helen: It is a bad thing, Bob! Uprooting our family *again* so that you can relive the glory days is a very bad thing!

Bob: [Defensively] Reliving the glory days is better than pretending they never happened!

Helen: Yes! They happened, but this; our family, is what’s happening now, Bob! And you’re missing this! I can’t believe you don’t want to go to your own son’s graduation!

Bob: It’s not a graduation. He is moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade.

Helen: It’s a ceremony!

Bob: It’s psychotic! People keep coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional…

Helen: This is not about you, Bob. This is about Dash.

Bob: You want to do something for Dash? Well, let him actually compete! Let him go out for sports!

Helen: I will not be made the enemy here! You *know* why we can’t!

Bob: Because he’d be *GREAT*!

Helen: [Growing in size looming over Bob] This is not – about – YOU!


Lucius: Honey?

Honey: What?

Lucius: Where’s my super suit?

Honey: What?


Honey: I, uh, put it away!

[helicopter explodes outside]

Lucius: *Where*?

Honey: *Why* do you *need* to know?

Lucius: I need it!

[Lucius rummages through another room in his condo]

Honey: Uh-uh! Don’t you think about running off doing no derring-do! We’ve been planning this dinner for two months!

Lucius: The public is in danger!

Honey: My evening’s in danger!

Lucius: YOU TELL ME WHERE MY SUIT IS, WOMAN! We are talking about the greater good!

Honey: ‘Greater good?’ I am your wife! I’m the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get!


[Showing Helen the super-suits she designed for Helen’s children]

Edna: I didn’t know the baby’s powers so I covered the basics.

Helen: Jack-Jack doesn’t have any powers.

Edna: No? Well, he’ll look fabulous anyway.


Edna: This is a horrible suit, darling. You can’t be seen in this. I won’t allow it. Fifteen years ago, maybe, but now? Feh!

Bob: Wait, what do you mean? *You* designed it.

Edna: I never look back, darling! It distracts from the now.


Helen: [sobbing] Now I’m losing him! What’ll I do? What’ll I do?

Edna: What are you talking about?

Helen: [stops crying] Huh?

Edna: [shouts] You are Elastigirl! My God…

[swatting Helen with a newspaper, and reprimanding her]

Edna: Pull-yourself-together! “What will you do?” Is this a question? You will show him you remember that he is Mr. Incredible, and you will remind him who *you* are. Well, you know where he is. Go, confront the problem. Fight! Win!

[normal voice]

Edna: And call me when you get back, darling. I enjoy our visits.


[As she begins to design Bob’s new super-hero costume]

Edna: It will be bold! Dramatic!

Bob: Yeah!

Edna: Heroic!

Bob: Yeah. Something classic, like, like Dynaguy. Oh, he had a great look! Oh, the cape and the boots…

Edna: [throws a wadded ball of paper at Bob’s head] No capes!

Bob: Isn’t that my decision?

Edna: Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids.

Bob: Listen, E…

Edna: November 15th of ’58! All was well, another day saved, when… his cape snagged on a missilefin!

Bob: Thunderhead was not the brightest bulb…

Edna: Stratogale! April 23rd, ’57! Cape caught in a jet turbine!

Bob: E, you can’t generalize about these things…

Edna: Metaman, express elevator! Dynaguy, snagged on takeoff! Splashdown, sucked into a vortex!


Edna: No capes!


Mr. Incredible/Bob: I was wrong to treat you that way. I’m sorry…

Syndrome: See? Now you respect me, because I’m a threat. That’s the way it works. Turns out there are lots of people, whole countries, that want respect, and will pay through the nose to get it.


Syndrome: [watching live news footage of the Omnidroid] Huh? Huh? Oh, come on! You gotta admit, this is cool! Just like a movie: the robot will emerge dramatically, do some damage, throw some screaming people. And just when all hope is lost? Syndrome will save the day! I’ll be a bigger hero than you ever were.

Mr. Incredible/Bob:You mean you killed off real heroes so that you could *pretend* to be one?

Syndrome: Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat *you*! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics anyone’s ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super…

[laughs maniacally]

Syndrome: …*no one* will be.


[as Helen leaves the cave, Violet runs after her]

Violet: Mom! Mom, what happened on the plane… I-I’m sorry, I wanted to- when you asked me to… I’m sorry…

Helen: Shh… it isn’t your fault. It wasn’t fair for me to suddenly ask so much of you. But things are different now, and doubt is a luxury we can’t afford anymore, sweetie. You have more power than you realize. Don’t think, and don’t worry. If the time comes, you’ll know what to do. It’s in your blood.

Coco (Disney) – Lessons in Family and Fame

Coco (Disney) – 2017 – PG

Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau

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Summary & Lessons:

The Rivera family in Santa Cecilia, Mexico, begins their ancestors’ story with Imelda Rivera. She loved music, and married a musician. One day, Imelda’s husband left her and her three-year-old daughter, Coco, for a musical tour, and never came back. Hurt and angry, Imelda banished all music from her life, and learned a sensible trade to care for her child: making shoes.
Fast forward to the life of Miguel, the twelve-year-old great-great grandson of Imelda. Coco is very old now, and the whole extended family shuns music, and makes shoes. However, Miguel dreams of playing the guitar and singing songs, like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, a legend from Coco’s childhood.

As the family prepares the ofrenda (ritual altar) for the Day of the Dead celebration, Miguel drops a framed photo of Great Grandmother Coco and Great-Great Grandmother Imelda, and it breaks, revealing the hidden photo of Coco’s father, folded back. His face had been torn out of the photo, but Miguel instantly recognized the uniquely designed guitar in his hand as belonging to the famed de la Cruz!

Excited by the discovery of his musical heritage, Miguel decides to take his own guitar out of hiding to compete in a local talent show. However, when his grandmother realizes what he is doing, she smashes the guitar to keep him away from the evils of music that plagued their family. Crushed and distraught, Miguel remembers that Ernesto’s famous guitar is in his nearby mausoleum. With intentions to only borrow his Great-Great Grandfather’s guitar for the talent show, his possession of the instrument transforms him, so that he becomes unseen and ghost-like to everyone around him. Only the stray dog, Dante, is able to see him. Before he can understand what is happening, he begins to run into skeletons of his ancestors who have crossed over for the Day of the Dead. Not knowing what else to do, he and Dante go with them when they return to the Land of the Dead, in hopes that they can help him to transform back to his living self. Shortly after his arrival there, they learn that stealing from the dead has cursed Miguel, and he cannot return to the Land of the Living until he gets a ceremonial blessing from a family member. Imelda offers her blessing, but with the condition that he gives up music forever. Unwilling to accept this condition, he sets off on a journey to find his Great-Great Grandfather, believing that a fellow musician will understand his passion for music, and give him the blessing he needs before time runs out, which would sentence him to forever remain in the Land of the Dead.


Family unity can be an important part of anyone’s childhood, but it doesn’t mean that you all have to live together, or even like the same things. Family unity means that, as a family, you believe in and support one another. Nurturing and encouraging individual talents and passions can be vital to the emotional growth of a child. Miguel’s family learns that, even though their intentions were to protect him, they failed to provide this nurturing. Their actions did not show him that they had faith in his ability to make good and loving decisions.

Another topic addressed in this film is that of fame. Many people idolize someone famous because they admire the extent of that person’s skills. Since they are impressed with the celebrity’s talents, their adoration is transferred into the assumption that the person is also admirable on levels beyond their talent. However, simply being well known does not automatically make someone a good person. Celebrities often have an on-stage persona that varies greatly from their off-stage persona. Miguel learns that talent does not equal goodness. Doing the right thing to care for friends and loved ones makes someone a far better person.

(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments.)


(Quotes Courtesy of IMDb: Coco – IMDb)

Héctor: [sings] Remember me, though I have to say goodbye / Remember me, don’t let it make you cry / For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart / I sing a secret song to you, each night we are apart / Remember me, though I have to travel far / Remember me, each time you hear a sad guitar / Know that I’m with you, the only way that I can be / Until you’re in my arms again, remember me…


[Abuelita has just destroyed Miguel’s guitar in front of the Rivera family. Miguel is in tears]

Abuelita: [smiling; lifting her hand to touch Miguel’s cheek] Aw, it’s okay. You can weep with your family.

Miguel: [slapping her hand away; angrily and tearfully] I *DON’T* want to be part of *this family* anymore!

[Miguel runs away]


Clerk: [sneezes] I am terribly allergic.

Miguel: But Dante doesn’t have any hair.

Clerk: And I don’t have a nose, and yet, here we are.


Héctor: What are you doing?

Miguel: I’m walking like a skeleton.

Héctor: No, skeletons don’t walk like that.

Miguel: That’s how *you* walk.

Héctor: No, I don’t.


Miguel: This isn’t a dream, then – you’re all really out there.

Tía Victoria: You thought we weren’t?

Miguel: Well, I don’t know – I thought it might have been one of those made-up things adults tell kids! Like vitamins.

Tía Victoria: Miguel, vitamins are a real thing!

Miguel: Well, now I’m thinking maybe they could be.


Tío Oscar: [stares at Miguel’s face] I miss my nose…


Mamá Imelda: [the Rivera family spots Mamá Imelda at the desk of a Family Reunion agent] I demand to speak to the person in charge.

Departures Agent: Sorry, señora it says here no one put up your photo.

Mamá Imelda: My family always, ALWAYS puts my photo on the ofrenda

[pulls off her shoe and begins beating the computer]

Mamá Imelda: That devil box tells you nothing but lies.

Papá Julio: [Approaches with fear] Mamá Imelda?

Mamá Imelda: Oh, mi familia! They wouldn’t let me cross the bridge.

[Puts her shoe back on]

Mamá Imelda: Tell this woman and her devil box that my photo is on the ofrenda.

Papá Julio: Well, we-we never made it made it to the ofrenda.

Mamá Imelda: What?

Papá Julio: We ran into a, a…

[the family parts to reveal Miguel]

Mamá Imelda: [Gasp] Miguel?

Miguel: [Gives a hesitant wave] Mamá Imelda.

Mamá Imelda: What is going on?

Clerk: [Office door opens] You the Rivera family?

[States matter-of-factly]

Clerk: Well, you’re cursed.


[Seeing colorful, mystical-looking creatures]

Miguel: Are those… Alebrijes?

Tío Oscar: Real Alebrijes. Spirit creatures.

Tía Rosita: They guide souls on their journey.

Tío Felipe: Watch your step – they make ‘caquitas’ everywhere.


[Miguel is being chased by Mama Imelda]

Mamá Imelda: Miguel! I am trying to save your life!

Miguel: No, you’re not! You are ruining my life!

Mamá Imelda: I am your family!

Miguel: But you will never understand what I want! You’ll never will!

[Miguel turns to leave, but then he stops when he hears Mama Imelda singing a verse of “La Lorona”]

Miguel: [surprised] I thought you hated music.

Mamá Imelda: [smiling nostalgically] I LOVED it! I remember my husband would play music and we would sing a song together.

[stops smiling; calmly]

Mamá Imelda: But when we had Coco, and things changed. I wanted to put down roots. He wanted to play for the world. We each made a sacrifice, Miguel. Now, I want you to decide which side to choose.

Miguel: [resentfully] To choose? A family doesn’t force me to choose. You are my family, and families are suppose to support me, no matter what decision I chose. But you will NEVER understand…

[Miguel runs away, leaving Mama Imelda looking shocked and hurt]

Hotel For Dogs (Dreamworks and Nickelodeon) – Understanding Children & Animals In Need of Families

Hotel For Dogs (Dreamworks and Nickelodeon) – 2009 – PG

Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Kudrow, Don Cheadle, Johnny Simmons, Kyla Pratt, Troy Gentile, Kevin Dillon

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Summary & Lessons:

Andi and Bruce are orphaned sixteen and eleven year old siblings living with their despicable, rock-and-roll playing foster parents, Lois and Carl Scudder. The kids have a dog named Friday who they cannot part with. Yet they know that the Scudders would never have enough kindness in their heart to let them keep him. So, they keep him hidden, with the help of some of Bruce’s ingenious inventions – Friday’s own personal window elevator, and an electric can opener blasting over a bullhorn to call him home. The household pantry is kept locked, and the kids own meals are limited, so they turn to hustling in order to get the money needed for dog food. Their social worker, Bernie, likes the kids a lot, and tries to help them out whenever they get into trouble.

As luck would have it, the siblings end up in the wrong place at the wrong time when burglars are seen running out of a store with alarms blaring. The kids end up running from the cops, themselves, in fear of taking the blame. Friday scoots away from the kids and ducks into an abandoned hotel, with Andi and Bruce close behind, just barely escaping pursuit. There, they find two homeless dogs. Friday seems happy to stay with the new dogs for the night, and the kids decide to find food for the trio of canines. A pet store clerk named Dave, charms Andi into taking in 3 more dogs that the pet store rescue is unable to find homes for. Once he arrives at the hotel with the dog food he promised to supply, Dave realizes the situation of the homeless dogs, and offers his help. They are soon joined by 2 more kids, and the team eventually decides to search the town for stray dogs that the local high-kill shelter would normally dispose of. However, keeping a hotel full of dogs a secret turns out to be an adventurous task, even with all of Bruce’s inventions for feeding, potty-training, exercising and entertaining the pups. Andi and Bruce lay everything on the line for their canine family, even though they know that one more screw up could potentially result in brother and sister being placed in separate foster care situations.


This movie gives the viewer a glimpse into the problems of the foster care system, and the challenges face by older children and siblings to find a permanent home. It also shows that not all foster parents are the loving, nurturing people that are so desperately needed by a child. Likewise, the circumstances of stray pets is shown in a similar light. These animals are just as loving as their pedigree counterparts, yet many are destroyed from lack of homes. Andi and Bruce seem to gravitate towards the dogs in a camaraderie of those seeking a loving home. In addition, different breeds of dogs are introduced, so that the viewer can see their common personality traits. We are also taught that animals have needs, interests, and feelings, just like people.

Teamwork is another thread of this movie. Alone, goals may be difficult to achieve, but when friends band together for a common cause and passion, a great deal can be achieved. Bruce’s inventions definitely show that when a person’s heart is focused on a goal, inspiration and creativity pair with necessity to get the job done, and overcome obstacles. We see that “necessity is the master of invention” and “where there is a will, there is a way”.

(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments.)


(Quotes Courtesy of IMDb: Hotel For Dogs – IMDb)

Bernie: Do you know how people react when I tell them I’m trying to place 11- and 16-year-old siblings? It’s not good.


Bernie: You sold a guy a rock in a box for $20.


Andi: [police see them where a store was broken into, the thieves just got away] We can’t get in trouble again!

Bruce: We didn’t do anything.

Andi: You want to tell them that?


Dave: We adopt out dogs here, but we can’t get anyone to take these dogs. They’re not puppies, and everybody wants puppies.

Andi: Tell me about it.


Bruce: If you look at it, dogs have three basic needs. That’s- that’s eating, sleeping, peeing and pooping.

Andi: That’s four.

Bruce: No, I think peeing and pooping is one.

Heather: Uh, I’ve stepped in both and I have to disagree.


Andi: You know, I think we might be in a little over our heads.

Dave: It’s four-six; we’re out dogged.



Andi: Why don’t we just wander the streets and rescue every stray dog we see?

[Light bulbs go off in all of her friends’ heads]


Lois Scudder: I’m suing you, I’m suing the state, I’m suing those kids, I’m suing the people who make shrink wrap!

Hercules (Disney) – Heroes Are Not Created By Strength Alone

Hercules (Disney) – 1997 – G

Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, James Woods, Danny DeVito, Bobcat Goldthwait, Matt Frewer, Rip Torn, Lillias White, Vanéese Y. Thomas, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan

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Summary & Lessons:

This story is loosely based on the Greek myth of Hercules.

Hades, the ruler of the underworld, attends a party on Mount Olympus, where his brother, Zeus, along with his wife, Hera, are celebrating the birth of their new son, Hercules. Hades is very jealous of his brother; whose rule over all the gods is much more desirable than ruling dead souls in the underworld. He plans to build an army of his own to overthrow Zeus’ ultimate power. When he returns to the underworld, he receives a prophecy from the three Fates that his plans should be carried out in 18 years, when the planets are in complete alignment. However, if Hercules fights on his father’s behalf, then Hades will be defeated.

In a fit of anger, Hades sends his minions, Pain and Panic to kidnap Hercules, feed him a potion to make him mortal, then kill him to remove any possibility of his ruining Hades’ plans. The pair succeeds in taking the baby, but when they give him the potion, Hercules does not drink the last drop. Because of this, Hercules, although mortal, keeps the incredible strength that he inherited from the gods. Left on earth, a childless couple finds and adopts the baby.

As Hercules grows, his strength grows, as well, and he often has difficulty controlling it. His peers see him as a freak. Hercules feels alone, and wishes he wasn’t so different from other people. When his parents confess that they found him, and that he had the symbol of the gods around his neck at the time, he decides to go to the temple of Zeus to find out who he really is.

Once at the temple, Hercules is surprised when the statue of Zeus comes alive, and reveals that he is, in fact, Hercules’ father. He informs him of how Hades turned him into a mortal, and that only gods were able to live on Mount Olympus, so Hercules could not come home to his real parents. However, if he were to prove himself “a true hero”, he would gain back him immortality. Zeus then send him on a quest to find Philoctetes (Phil), to be trained as a hero. Hercules, then sets off on a journey on the back of Pegasus, the winged horse created by his father as a gift to him in infancy. Once Phil deems that he has completed his training, and is ready for real hero work, they meet the saucy Megara (Meg) on the way to Thebes.  Through their many adventures, Hercules comes to  discover that being a hero is not what he expected it to be.


As Hercules is growing up, he is distressed by his peers who mock him for being different. People often show hostility to people that they do not understand. He considered his difference to other people as a defect, and longs to be just like everyone else. As he learns to hone his skills, however, he realizes his talents could benefit others. Sometimes your true strengths look like weaknesses until you learn how to use them.

Hercules also has to deal with an identity crisis, once he finds out that the parents he grew up with are not his biological parents. His desire to find out where he came from is not uncommon among adopted children. They can often feel unwanted, with a strong need to prove themselves worthy of love. Through his adventures, Hercules discovers that the strength of the heart is more powerful than the strength of the body. He also learns that in the grand scheme of happiness, adoration that is accomplished through fame means next to nothing.

Another point made in this story regards the chasing of dreams. Phil and Hercules, both have difficulty keeping on the path of their dreams after they experience temporary falls, but with support from friends who care, one can find the strength to get back up and try again. Finally, dreams are only worth pursuing if they are positive ones. Hades dream of overthrowing Zeus as a means of revenge was fueled from a jealousy which consumed him. Such destruction is not good for the soul, and does not produce true happiness.

(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments below.)


(Quotes Courtesy of IMDb: Hercules – IMDb)

[first lines]

Narrator: Long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece, there was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. And the greatest and strongest of all these heroes was the mighty Hercules. But what is the measure of a true hero? Ah, that is what our story is…

Thalia: Will you listen to him? He’s makin’ the story sound like some Greek tragedy.

Terpsichore: Lighten up, dude.

Calliope: We’ll take it from here, darling.

Narrator: You go, girl.


Phil: I trained all those would-be heroes. Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus. Alotayusses! And every one of those bums let me down flatter than a discus. None of them could go the distance. And then, there was Achilles. Now there was a guy who had it all: the build, the foot-speed. He could jab! He could take a hit! He could keep on comin’! BUT THAT FORSLUGGINER HEEL OF HIS! He barely gets nicked there once, and kaboom! He’s history. Yeah, I had a dream once. I dreamed I would train the greatest hero there ever was. So great, the gods would hang a picture of him in the stars for everyone to see. And everyone would say, “That’s Phil’s boy.” That’s right… Ah, but dreams are for rookies. A guy can only take so much disappointment.


Hercules: Aren’t you… a damsel in distress?

Meg: I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day.


Meg: Megara. My friends call me Meg; at least they would if I had any friends. So- did they give *you* a name along with all those rippling pectorals?


Hercules: Uh, so how’d you get stuck with the…

Meg: Pinhead with hooves? Well, you know how men are. They think “No” means “Yes” and “Get lost” means “Take me, I’m yours.”

[Hercules doesn’t understand]

Meg: Don’t worry, maybe Shorty here can explain it to ya.


Hercules: You know, wh-when I was a kid, I-I would have given anything to be exactly like everybody else.

Meg: You wanted to be petty and dishonest?

Hercules: Everybody’s not like that.

Meg: Yes, they are.

Hercules: You’re not like that.

Meg: How do you know what I’m like?


Meg: [singing] If there’s a prize for rotten judgment/ I guess I’ve already won that/ No man is worth the aggravation/ That’s ancient history, been there, done that!


Hercules: Meg, when I’m with you, I-I don’t feel so alone.

Meg: Sometimes it’s better to be alone.

Hercules: What do you mean?

Meg: Nobody can hurt you.


Hercules: But, Father, I’ve defeated every single monster I’ve come up against. I-I’m… I’m the most famous person in all of Greece. I’m… I-I’m an action figure!


Hades: [after taking Hercules’ powers away] You might feel just a little queasy. It’s kinda natural. Maybe you should… sit down!

[Knocks Hercules down with dumbbells]

Hades: Now you know how it feels to be like everyone else. Isn’t it just peachy?