A great kid’s movie can lead to even greater learning discussions. We are always looking for ways to fold in a little learning into our already busy home lives and the movies this Spring gave us just the chance with The Croods (and check out our review on Epic).

The Croods, which may be leaving the theaters soon but certainly worth the Amazon or Red Box rental if you missed it, is an amazingly cute animated story centered on a prehistoric family and their adventures in finding a new and safe dwelling due to massive earthquakes and seismic plate shifts. On their journey they encounter exotic creatures, befriend a nomad, are introduced to fire and discover there is a whole world waiting to be explored. It was a really cute movie with some pros and cons like any other but our interest and purpose here is in the opportunity for discussing and exploring the reality of the stone-age.  Hop over to my friends at Jersey Family Fun for a more traditional and in-depth review.

Just to be clear… I’m not suggesting that you pause the movie or whisper tid-bits in your child’s ear but instead allow the film, however whimsical and fiction-filled, to ignite a curiosity of our natural world. By allowing them to fall in love with the characters and story you have the perfect backdrop for later expanding their factual knowledge without the associations of traditional learning. So enjoy the movie for what it is – a humorous family film with elements of survival and family bonding.

So then what? Well take advantage of the drive home or find a small pocket of time later to highlight things like why The Croods had to find a new cave or what it must have been like living in one. Ask your son or daughter what affects does he/she think discovering fire had on society. Maybe they can sketch their own comic strip. Then simply (and perhaps gently) explain that some parts of the movie were fictional for the sake of making the film humorous, relatable to current times and more interesting, then give a couple of interesting examples (language/slang being a simple example from the movie) making sure to highlight the equally interesting factual truths. The below documentary might prove helpful but I advise that parents preview it before sharing with children for appropriateness or simply select an appropriate clip to demonstrate your point or highlight your lesson.

Take your discussion offsite… The Penn Museum in Philadelphia offers many amazing exhibits, including one on human evolution. It is fascinating to learn about the different stages of human development. Early on Hominids had much smaller brains and longer faces in closer resemblance to the primate family. This exhibit will walk your family through the differences between Homo erectus (walking upright) and the Homo habilis (working with tools) as well as many other stages of evolution. Check out their online learning tools here, where I learned that as humans evolved with larger brains the structure of the skull had changed significantly over time to accommodate.

Another discussion point might be around earthquakes and continental drifts. This again is fascinating stuff. Here’s one website to offer some insight – it gets heavy, so do your homework and know exactly what you are going to highlight beforehand. Maybe grab a couple of YouTube videos for demonstrative purposes. (Homeroom At Home will be offering a full section on Earth Science in the future.)

The Croods was a clever movie adding more dimension than other kids prehistoric films of the past… allowing great opportunity for spin-off conversations of true value. Enjoy the film over and over again and embrace the learning opportunities that lie within.  DreamWorks through the official The Croods website has some additional downloads, coloring sheets, printable activities and games… worth checking out.

Disclosure:  I was not paid for this review nor were tickets compensated.  My family and I enjoyed this film and the ideas and opinions expressed here are strictly mine.