Encanto, Disney’s newest animated feature, tells the story of an extraordinary family. Once upon a time, Abuela (grandmother) received a miraculous power in a time of need. Every Madrigal family member since has received a unique and magical gift that benefits the family and their village. Everyone, that is, except Maribel. But when the miraculous magic starts to fail, it is Mirabel who steps up to help her family restore it.
The movie is rich with spiritual themes. Miracles, relationality, communal responsibility, and resilience all play a role as the story unfolds. Use the activities below to help children identify and explore these themes for themselves after they’ve seen the film.
Miracle Investigation: The Madrigal family believe in miracles. Since December is when children might hear stories about Hanukkah and Christmas miracles as well, invite them to pretend they are scientists studying miracles. Use these questions to prompt their investigation:
- How does a miracle work?
- What are the results of a miracle?
- What situation or environment precedes a miracle?
- What other miracles have you heard about?
- Do all miracles follow a similar pattern? If so, what is that pattern? If not, how are they different?
Family Gifts Tree: The extended Madrigal family lives together and their magical abilities work best when they collaborate. Help children think about their own communal connections by creating a family gifts tree. (Define family as narrowly or broadly as befits children’s contexts). Starting with children, identify each person and note the unique gifts they contribute to the family. Then use emojis to show how gifts make the family stronger (e.g., thumbs up for gifts that provide encouragement, hearts for gifts that promote loving care, silly faces for gifts of humor).
Room Design: As each family member receives their abilities, the Madrigal house transforms to invite good use of those powers. (For example, Antonio speaks with animals and his room transforms into a rainforest.) Help children think about the difference their own gifts can make by imagining the transformation of their own room. Set out paper and a variety of art supplies. Invite each child to draw a room filled with items that represent an aptitude or skill they can use to help others. A child who is a good listener might create a cozy space for sharing ideas or feelings; a budding environmentalist might decorate with solar panel flowers.
What would Mirabel do?: Each time Mirabel faces a new challenge, she figures out a way to keep going. Help children build resilience by identifying a hurdle they want to overcome and then wonder together how Mirabel would handle the problem. For example, what would Mirabel do to make a friend feel better when their pet dies? Or how would Mirabel handle missing her favorite TV show to serve dinner at a shelter? Invite children to write a letter from Mirabel’s perspective or draw a picture of what Mirabel would do to post as inspiration.