Managing Fears with Migration

When my daughter was little, she watched a movie where the mother died.  Afterward, she would become upset every time I was out of sight. In the movie Migration, the Mallards have spent their entire lives in the safety of their home pond. Mack is afraid to explore beyond the pond’s borders, but his family convinces him to face his fears and make the long journey south to Jamaica. 

Fears, both real and imagined, can significantly affect children’s lives. Watch the movie and then use one or more of these activities to help kids 3-8 explore managing their fears effectively.

Scary stories.  At the beginning of the movie, Mack tells stories about the dangers of wandering too far from the nest. Pam realizes the tales are scaring the ducklings and tries to make them less frightening. Invite children to recall a story they’ve heard that had lots of scary details. Then ask: How did you feel while listening to the story? How might you change the story to make it less scary? 

Flight feelings. Flying away from the safety of the pond generates a variety of different emotions for the Mallards. Use this visualization to help children imagine these emotions. Say: Close your eyes and take a deep breath. (pause) Let it out. (pause) Imagine you are flying through the sky.  Feel the wind against your face and body. (pause) Notice how you feel. (pause) Listen as someone flies up next to you.  Who has joined you for this flight? (pause) How does it feel to be flying together? (pause) Look ahead at the clouds. See the light reflecting off of them. (pause) Fly through the clouds, breathing them in and out. (pause) Notice how your body feels as you glide through the air. (pause) When you are ready, open your eyes (pause). Encourage children to share what they experienced.

Helpful herons. On the Mallards’ first day away from the pond, they fly into a huge storm. A heron insists on taking them in until the storm is over. However, the Mallards are unsure if the herons are truly being helpful or just want to eat them. Ask children: Why did the Mallards think the herons were being helpful? Why did the Mallards think the herons were trying to hurt them? How do you decide if someone is trustworthy? What do you do if you are unsure?

Wounded wings. Dax wants to rescue his parents, but his damaged wings prevent him from flying. He and Gwen are afraid they won’t be able to save them. Dax ultimately attaches additional feathers to his wings so that he can get airborne. Invite children to draw pictures of other ways they imagine that Dax and Gwen could have saved their parents.

Flying free. Delroy has been trapped in a cage for a long time. When the Mallards free him, he swoops around the room and breaks through a window to reach the sky. Invite children to act out being trapped and being free. Say: Use your body to show how you would feel if you were trapped in a cage. Use your body to show how you would feel when you were set free. Then ask: What is the first thing you would do if you were trapped like Delroy and then set free?



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