Thursday, June 30, 2011

Disneyland Edutainment Part 6 of 10 ~ Critter Country ~ Reprised

Disneyland Edutainment Part 6 of 10 ~ Critter Country ~ Reprised

There is not much in Critter Country . . . or is there?

It’s Teaching Disney Thursday!

This is a happy, fun and small area. There are only two rides in Critter Country. There is Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh. But there is still opportunity to learn!

As you walk into the area you will notice a change from the New Orleans area as you pass the Haunted Mansion. There is much more greenery and fewer buildings. There is lots of wood and you get an old wild west feel but as the it might have been before many people came. There are several stores made to look like log cabins that fit into the area and blend in well. This gives you a chance to talk once again about the expansion of the American West. What would it have been like to be one of the first people to come into the area? What was the wildlife like? How did people survive?

Take a rest in the Hungry Bear Café and enjoy a break. Look around and see the wonderful wood carvings! Talk about the craftsmanship and how they do it. Sit and watch the traffic on the river and discuss life on the Mississippi and other great American Rivers. Again go back and discuss Mark Twain, Davy Crockett and other great American heroes of the past. Discuss what life was like for the Native Americans before and after the settlers moved across the land.

As you are walking into Critter Country maybe you will take a ride on the Davie Crockett Canoes. What would it have been like to have that as your main source of transportation? Why are there no motors on those little boats? Use it as a chance to show how teamwork makes rowing the boat easier. Again for the older kids talk about the science behind the shape and proper use of the paddle.

Spend some time before you go to read some of the original Winnie the Pooh stories and watch some cartoons. Then stop in and visit him! Get your picture taken with him in the 100 acre wood area. Go ride the ride and enjoy the laugh. This is really a great thing to encourage an early reader to get bug to read. Give older kids a chance to make up their own stories about their “adventures” with Pooh and the gang.

Read the Brier Rabbit stories and if you can find it watch the wonderful movie Song of the South. Talk about the values those stories share. If you are lucky enough see the movie talk about the culture right after the Civil War and how people were learning to accept Black-Americans as free. Talk about how different it is today. Did you know that the actor that played Uncle Remus was nominated for an Oscar back in 1946? How amazing, before the civil rights act a Black-American could achieve that! Ride Splash Mountain and see what parts of the stories they kept. Why is Uncle Remus not in the ride? Of course you can add in talking about the science of the ride. How do they know you will not fly out of the seat on the big drop?

Maybe when your kids have a quiet day and start up with, “What am I do to, I’m so board!?” you can remind them of Brier Rabbit and suggest they write a story of their own. Maybe the adventures of the family pet. Get them thinking about why the dog wags its tail when you say “walk” or pick up the leash to take it out. What could be going through its mind and what would it say if it could talk.

       If you wish talk about why Song of the South is not sold in the USA. The reason is Walt Disney, after the movie was released and was nominated for an Oscar felt the movie could be seen as bigoted. Some people feel the fact that Uncle Remus “is happy” to stay with his ex-owners and care for them after being freed gives the wrong impression of how freed slaves felt about their owners.

       In truth many freed slaves did stay on with their “owners” working as share croppers ect. They did not have skills or education to other jobs nor did they have money to move away. Many owners were not vicious or cruel either. Some realized if they treated their slaves fairly they would work harder and produce more. Some used slaves because it was culturally normal and acceptable and they knew no other way. They did not see it as wrong even though it was. But I digress.

       You can use this to talk about some of the famous people that started life as slaves and were freed during the Civil War. A great example is George Washington Carver. He was born a slave. George and his older brother were raised by their ex-owners after slavery was abolished. His parents and other siblings had been kidnapped several years before and nobody knew where they were. The Carver’s encouraged George’s natural drive to learn and taught him to read and write.

       A lot of this you can and should open the topic at the park and then talk about it in the days ahead at home after your trip. Some you do while there. As always keep park time fun and light. It is a time to open the mind and teach them to learn from all that is around them. It is not a time to pull out all the text books, work books and do heavy writing assignments. On the other hand if they wish to stop and sit to write a bit then do so!


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