Spiritual Leadership with Kung Fu Panda 4

The Kung Fu Panda movies are some of my kids’ favorites. Together, we have watched Po grow from a noodle maker into a leader and defender of the Valley of Peace. In this fourth movie, we see Po change again as he tries to shift his focus to spiritual leadership and seeks a worthy successor to take up his Dragon Warrior role. He takes on new challenges, like learning to meditate, renegotiating relationship expectations, and defining new life goals and responsibilities.

Watch the movie together and invite children ages 6 and older to explore it further with one or more of these activities: 

Unwelcome Changes. When Master Shifu says it is time for him to name a successor, Po is reluctant. He likes going on adventures and kicking butt. He doesn’t want things to change. Invite kids to name unwelcome changes they have experienced. Encourage them to list some of the pleasant and unpleasant things that occurred because of these changes. Ask: Why did you resist the change? How did you manage your feelings about the change? What good things came from the change?

Be the (Peach) Pit.  Po is disappointed with the warriors who come to try out for the position of Dragon Warrior. In response, Master Shifu gives Po a lesson with a peach pit. He tells him that “every pit holds the promise of a mighty tree.” Invite children to imagine that they are a peach pit.  Ask: What type of tree will you become? Encourage each child to draw a picture of the tree they want to become and then share their drawings with each other.

Spiritual Leadership. Po is supposed to succeed Master Oogway as the next Valley of Peace spiritual leader. But he is not sure what a spiritual leader does. He and Zhen spend time imagining what Po would be like as a spiritual leader. Ask children: What do you think a spiritual leader should do? Work together to create a job description for the kind of spiritual leader you would want for your community. 

Worried Fathers. Po’s fathers are very anxious when he leaves the Valley of Peace to fight the Chameleon, so they decide to follow him. Po has a heart-to-heart conversation with them about their desire to protect him and his desire for independence. Invite children to take turns pretending to be Po and one (or both) of his fathers. Act out what you feel the fathers want to say to Po and what Po wants to say to his fathers. Encourage kids to vary their responses from the movie if they have different ideas.

Tummy Tingles. Three cute little bunnies live in Juniper City’s secret thief hideout. They attack Po, later telling him that violence makes their tummies tingle. Ask children: Why do you think the bunnies’ tummies tingle? How does your body tell you things? Invite them to move their hands like a scanner from the top of their heads to the bottom of their feet. Ask: What sensations do you feel in your body right now?



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