Movies and commercials often highlight traditional families and focus on the joys of being together. But real families are complicated and not always places of comfort and happiness. Trolls Band Together explores some of these more complex aspects of family relationships. Abandoned by his brothers when he was a small child, Branch discovers that one of them is in danger. He and his good friend Poppy decide to bring the family together in order to save the day.
Use one or more of these activities to help children ages 3-12 reflect on some things that can complicate family relationships, such as family secrets, problematic assumptions, unresolved conflicts, and labels.
Family Labels. Branch’s brothers called him Baby Branch when he was little. Years later, they continue to use that label and treat him as if his ideas don’t matter. Branch wants his brothers to see how he has outgrown that name. With children, recall other labels applied to characters in the movie, like ‘the heartthrob’, ‘the funny one’, ‘the leader’. Then encourage children to write down labels that people apply to them. Invite them to circle the ones they feel represent them and put ‘X’ through those they don’t think fit.
Family Secrets. When Poppy discovers she has a sister no one told her about, she has mixed feelings. She is thrilled and also upset that her father kept Viva a secret. Ask: Why do you think Poppy’s father kept Viva’s existence a secret? What would you have done if you were Poppy’s father? When do you think secrets are helpful? When do you think secrets are unhelpful?
Family & Friends. Poppy and Viva talk, make necklaces, and braid each other’s hair, just like Poppy does with her friend Bridget. She even feels a lot of the same emotions when she is with each of them. Invite children to close their eyes and picture a family member that they like to spend time with. Say: Imagine the two of you are doing a favorite activity together. (pause) How do you feel? Encourage children to share their feelings. Then say: Close your eyes and picture a friend. Imagine you are doing something you enjoy together. (pause) How do you feel? Encourage them to share those feelings as well, noticing how they are similar or different.
Perfect Family Harmony. Branch and his brothers need to perform a perfect family harmony to break their diamond jail cells. They assume that perfect harmony requires being totally in sync with each other, but Branch discovers it is really being exactly who they are. Invite children to draw a picture of the people they think of as their family. Encourage them to include details that represent how each person prefers to be seen and valued by others. Take a few minutes to reflect together on how those details combine to form a particular kind of family harmony.
Family Arguments. At the beginning of the movie, Branch’s brothers argue and decide to go their separate ways. They continue to argue and hurt each other’s feelings once they get back together. Ask children: What are some ways that Branch and his brothers could resolve their arguments? Invite them to act out scenarios where the brothers argue and then resolve their conflicts in various ways.