Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Area: Other Areas
Grade Level: Middle School, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: bravery, childhood, ethics, growing up, pride, social and political
Estimated Time Necessary: 45 minutes

Lesson Plan

Thinking together about adults, children, and what it takes to grow up.
The film can enable students to think together about the role adults play in helping children learn how to do things, whether adults get that right, and what is the right balance between encouraging someone and pushing them into something frightening.
Reflecting on what we learn from others
In the film, the bird learns from the hermit crab. Students can think together about what they learn from others and how being in relationship with different people can change what we think, what we know, and how we tackle challenges.
Thinking about bravery
The film offers an opportunity to think together about what it means to be brave.

This lesson plan can be used either in a classroom or online.

Plot Summary: In the short Pixar film, Piper, an adult sanderling bird encourages their baby to join the other birds in finding food along the beach as the waves roll in and out. The baby bird bravely rushes forward only to find their parent will no longer drop food in their mouth—they must begin to fend for themselves. Clumsily, the baby bird finds something to eat only to be struck by the rolling surf. Back in the nest and frazzled, the baby refuses to leave the safety of the nest, once again demanding to be fed by their parent, who refuses. Scared, but determined, the baby leaves the nest once again only to be frightened by the waves. A chance encounter with a hermit crab results in the bird learning a new method of managing the waves and finding clams to eat. He joyfully presents his parent and the other birds with a bountiful supply of food.



Discussion Questions

  • What kinds of things would you rather have adults do for you than have to do for yourself?
  • Should parents encourage their children to do the things that frighten them?
  • What does it mean to be brave? Is the baby bird brave? Are the other birds brave? The hermit crabs?
  • Is it scary to grow up?
  • What does it mean to feel proud? Is it ever wrong to feel proud of our accomplishments?
  • The hermit crab teaches the bird a new way of catching food. What new things have you learned from those who are different from you?