Learning about Self & Others with The Garfield Movie

We often wonder what pets are thinking and feeling, especially when they do something that seems odd or silly. A cat with the zoomies, a puppy who barks when the microwave dings, a hamster who sleeps flopped out inside its wheel. Like people, they can be hard to figure out, and yet we love them because of their quirks.

The Garfield Movie explores the inner life of a cat as he re-establishes a relationship with his alley cat father, Vic. Garfield and his sidekick, Odie, discover new things about themselves and others as they leave their indoor life for some outdoor action. Watch the movie together and then use one or more of the following activities to help children explore the movie’s themes.

Favorite Foods. Garfield loves food. Many of his favorites remind him of the first time he met Jon. Invite children to draw a picture of a food they love to share with others, Ask: How do you feel when you eat this food together? What other foods connect you with friends and family?

Caregiving. When Jon works too much, Garfield takes care of him. He pushes Jon’s chair over to the bed, makes sure he has enough blankets, and puts his headphones on so he can listen to a soothing meditation. Ask children: How do you like to be taken care of? How do you like to take care of others? Invite them to act out different ways of showing and receiving care.

Left behind. When Garfiled was a kitten, his father left him in an alleyway to get food and never returned. Garfield felt scared and abandoned. Invite children to imagine that they are Garfield. Ask: What do you want to say to Vic about leaving you behind? What do you wish Vic had done instead? Share your responses with each other.

Frustrated responses. When Garflied gets frustrated, he bangs his head on a tree. This response may work for a cartoon character but it isn’t safe for humans.Teach children a simple breathing exercise. Say: When we feel frustrated, we can use our breath to help us calm down. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in (pause) and let it out slowly. (pause) Breathe in and out again, and notice how your belly and chest move as you breathe. Continue to breathe in and out slowly, noticing how your body feels calmer.

Animal Translator. Marge, the security guard at Lactose Farm, has an animal translator app that helps her understand what different animals are saying. Invite children to imagine that they have an animal translator too. Encourage them to look around for different animals and imagine what they are saying. Share your responses with each other. 

Wordless Communication.  Odie does not speak in the movie, yet he clearly communicates with others. Say: We can show that we care for others without using words. Invite children to silently act out their responses to the following questions: How would you show that you are upset by someone’s behavior? How would you comfort someone when they are sad? How would you show that you are worried about someone?



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