On Disney+: 6 Pixar “Shorts” to Love as a Family

If you can spare 5-10 minutes, you can escape to a magical world created by the creative masterminds at Pixar. These short films (and our accompanying discussion questions) are not only fun for the whole family, but a valuable opportunity to reflect on some larger themes — like love, respect, and responsibility — surfaced by the films.



With a toddler who is always eager to get a taste of forbidden screen time, and a husband who perhaps engages in too much screen time (football season, am I right?!), it can be hard to strike a balance that appeases everyone.


Which is why I begrudgingly forked over my credit card for Disney+ while in search of wholesome entertainment that the whole family would enjoy. Or at least I thought we would… until we hit what we call the “interest limit” -- the amount of time a toddler will sit still, a mother can shelve her “to do” list, and dad can keep eyes off the scores on his phone. In our house, that’s a grand total of 10 minutes.


Enter: the Pixar short.


Short films originally aired before Pixar’s longer feature films, and they truly are the gems of the Pixar portfolio. Often employed as an opportunity to try out a new director, animation style, or technological advancement, Pixar “shorts” are the test lab of the studio. But they are also the perfect format for young minds given elements of great musical scores, colorful imagery, often wordless “scripts,” and a big theme in a short timeframe.


Although I feel remiss to leave a few of my personal favorite shorts off this list (Geri’s Game, Lava, Purl, Float), I tried to keep it focused on films that were engaging enough to hold my two-year-old’s attention. Ranked by the number of times in the last week he has requested to watch them, and followed by questions we discuss afterwards, enjoy:



LA LUNA

The gorgeous imagery of a three-generation family who cleans shooting stars off the surface of the moon is coupled with a musical score that perfectly accompanies this creative short. The story focuses on a young boy entering the family business and struggling to find his personal way of working. We watch this at least three times a week, and my son, Tate, loves to re-enact the mannerisms of each character in front of the screen, and I love that it reminds me of another childhood favorite -- Le Petit Prince by Antoine De St. Exupery.

Discussion “sparks” for your kids:

  • The boy’s dad and grandpa have such cool jobs! What do you think mom and dad do when they go to work?

  • What do you want to do when you grow up? (Often kids name one of their parent’s careers, in which case you can ask “How would you do that job in your own unique way?” Or “What would be different about your [insert place of business] than the one where mom/dad works?)

  • There are a lot of jobs that we often forget someone is in charge of doing (like keeping an eye on the cleanliness of the moon!) Who are some of the people who do forgotten jobs that we can thank this week? (e.g. janitors, snow plowers, mail carriers, housekeepers).



PIPER


This charming story of a young sandpiper searching for food is so realistically animated that my mom thought it was documentary footage until halfway through! The sandpiper eventually learns a new skill from a hermit crab, and this innovation helps him feed the whole flock.

Discussion “sparks” for your kids:

  • What are some of the unique ways you have of doing things? e.g. Do you hold your pencil differently, cross your arms a different way than I do, organize your toys differently?

  • The hermit crab had such a great way to fish for shells. Sadly, none of the older birds knew about this idea because they didn’t take the time to watch him. Who are some people we like to watch and learn from? (e.g. athletes, religious leaders, musicians, teachers, family members, and others who lead by example).

  • The crab didn’t need any words to show the sandpiper how to fish. How can we share some of our talents with others, even when we can’t be near them to talk about it? (A COVID-era concern!) Write letters or draw pictures and mail them to friends; send videos to grandparents; read and write books!



BAO


Bao presents a small dumpling who has come to life and tells about the connection he builds with his mother who is an empty nester longing for fulfillment. The sweet bond between young dim sum and his mom becomes more strained in the teenage years, and what happens next may make your mama heart ache just thinking about the future. But it also helps bring awareness to children of the joys and grief that accompany parenthood -- and how loved they are by us.

Discussion “sparks” for your kids:

  • What are some of the fun things we do together? Things that are like how mama and her dumpling shared a sweet treat?

  • What shared activities do you hope that we do together forever?



LOU


"Lou" tells a sweet tale of how the items left in a "lost and found" box come together to create a creature who teaches a schoolyard bully an important lesson. With clever surprises, beautiful animation, and a universal moral at its core, "Lou" encompasses all the best of Pixar -- humor and heart.

Discussion “sparks” for your kids:

  • Why is it important to treat our things with respect and not leave them out or on the floor? (e.g. show gratitude, respect for others, etc.)

  • Has anyone ever been mean to you like that bully? How did you respond?

  • What happens on your playground at school? Who would be the nicest to Lou and who would be not as nice? How can we help all friends be nice?



PARTLY CLOUDY


Taking the classic stork mythology and putting a Pixar twist on it, "Partly Cloudy" is a heartening tale of friendship, loyalty, and the lesson that even the least cuddly of creatures deserves a loving home. This aligns well with our earlier lessons that everyone has inherent worth and purpose. Yet another short with unexpectedly tear-jerking moments, we could (and do!) watch "Partly Cloudy" again and again.

Discussion “sparks” for your kids:

  • God made all living things (although the clouds are a fun story… perhaps your metaphor for that transcendent power?) -- why do you think he created you and me?

  • Sometimes we encounter difficult people or scary animals (like the alligator and porcupine that the stork had to carry!).Why do you think -- and what do you think -- we have to learn from their creation?

  • In the end, the stork creates a way to handle the tough situations that the cloud throws his way. What are some of the ways you can prepare for a difficult situation? (Try to get to the root of what the difficult situation may be: feeling left out, facing an obstacle, etc. Make a big plan with your little one to address it. Prayer, role playing, and other techniques work!)



BOUNDIN’


This one is my personal favorite! A Western-themed rhyming musical about a proud sheep who is sheared of his beloved wool, this story captures the essence of Dr. Seuss, Sheep in a Jeep, and Shaun the Sheep all in one short. Best for ages 3+ years (the story line depends on understanding the words) it’s a good reminder that what we do is much more important than how we look.

Discussion “sparks” for your kids:

  • What about your appearance do you love most? How would you feel if that thing changed?

  • What about your appearance is different than other kids at school? How do you feel about that?

  • What do you like more about the sheep -- his shiny white coat, or how he bounds around?

  • What do you like more about you -- how you look, or what you can do? (sub in something your child does -- e.g. how well he can draw, how great she is at soccer, etc.)


Which must-see shorts did we leave off this list?

Let our reviewers know for our next round up!



  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
PARENTING WITH PURPOSE

Join Our Newsletter

© 2020 by Primerrily