Lyle, Lyle Crocodile offers several big songs and dance scenes that will engage and excite young moviegoers. But underneath its playful surface, the movie also explores how difficult adapting to life in a new place can be. When the Primm family moves to New York City, they struggle with change. Then Lyle comes into their lives and helps them discover how to be courageous, flexible, and joyous in their new circumstances.
In addition to singing along to the show’s great tunes, try one or more of these activities to help kids explore the deeper meaning of the movie and how it addresses their own hopes and fears.
Dance Party. When members of the Primm family are struggling or scared, Lyle responds with a song. Brainstorm with children several songs that elicit positive emotions and generate energy. Create a playlist and have a song and dance party. Suggest that children sing songs off the playlist to help them manage their emotions when they feel anxious or discouraged and need a dose of positivity.
Rip up the Recipe. Mrs. Primm often feels nervous, stressed, or sad. She has trouble finding what gives her joy. Lyle suggests that she Rip Up the Recipe and start thinking of new ways to tackle her problems. Ask: How does Mrs. Primm find ways to be joyful or happy in her new home? When do you feel stuck, sad, or bored? How could you change up the recipe of what you are doing?
Panic Attacks. Young children may find the scene where Josh faints from a panic attack a bit scary. Explain what a panic attack is: intense feelings of anxiety or fear that cause an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Invite them to pantomime what being really scared feels like to them. Then practice taking deep breaths or using yoga movements to help them calm down. You might also show children how to feel their pulse so they can tell when their heart rate slows.
Setting Boundaries. Hector is not always nice to Lyle. He forces him to perform even though Lyle is very nervous. Pretend to be Lyle and Hector. Act out what it might look like for Lyle to “say no” to Hector and how Hector might respond with more respect for Lyle’s feelings. Take turns playing each part. You might even imagine ways that Hector and Lyle could compromise so that both are happy.
Complicated Friendships. Hector and Lyle’s relationship is complex. Hector is unkind to Lyle, leaving him alone in the apartment for 18 months and getting him locked up in the zoo. But he also does some nice things, like giving Lyle music and helping him break out of the zoo. Explore the nature of friendships by asking: Why do you think Lyle stays friends with Hector? Why would (or wouldn’t) you want to be friends with Hector? Why would (or wouldn’t) you want to be friends with Lyle? What could Hector or Lyle do to be better friends?