Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Beauty is More Than Skin Deep: Examining the Positive and Negative Depictions of Physical Appearance in Children’s Films

Karen F. Carazo

Contents of Curriculum Unit 96.03.03:

To Guide Entry

My unit, “Beauty is More Than Skin Deep: Examining the Depiction of Physical Appearance in Children’s Films” is designed for a third grade class at a New Haven Public School. The students in the class at L.W. Beecher Elementary School are predominantly African-American and range in age from 8-10. They come from lower to middle-class socioeconomic levels. Approximately half of my students are living in a single-parent home environment while the remainder live in two-parent households. Of the half living in two-parent households, the majority are living with a step-parent. The students are also diverse in academic levels, including students participating in the talented and gifted program as well as those receiving resource services for various learning difficulties.

Social Development in the elementary school has become an important trend in education today. Many school systems have initiated formal curriculums geared towards building students’ self-esteem, motivating them to learn, and promoting positive decision-making skills. With growing emphasis on Social Development in the United States today, the New Haven Board of Education dictates the incorporation of social development into the established curriculum. In 1987, a social development curriculum, Project Charlie, was introduced. It was developed to assist teachers in the implementation of this important program. The main thrust of Project Charlie is to raise students’ self-awareness. It attempts to show students that while we have many similarities we also have many differences and that it is these differences which make us special and unique. It further demonstrates that it is OK not to look and act like everyone else. It sends the message that we do not have to look a certain way to be acceptable to society. In their book Building Self-Esteem in Children Berne and Savary define a healthy self-esteem as “a capacity to see oneself as valuable and competent, loving and lovable, having certain unique talents and a worthwhile personality to share in relationships with others.”1 In other words, it is who you are on the inside that counts rather than how you look. Since it is during the childhood years that lifetime impressions about the world and self are being formed, parents and teachers have the ability to shape events so that children can have at least some successful learning and social experiences and begin to develop a positive sense of self. In his book Positive Self-Talk for Children: Teaching Self-Esteem Through Affirmations: A Guide for Parents. Teachers and Counselors Bloch defines self-esteem as “our basic sense of self-worth that comes from all the thoughts, feelings, and experiences we have accumulated about ourselves in life. These impressions and evaluations add up to our feeling good about ourselves or feeling inadequate.”2 With the help of Project Charlie, my goal is to aid my students in the development of a more positive self-concept. In addition to teaching the academic subjects, I have tried to educate my third graders about the importance of self-worth. I have attempted to instill in all of them the feeling that “I AM SOMEBODY!” This unit will be used throughout the school year to supplement to current curriculum.

Students in this age group are just entering a crucial stage in their development: the awkward stage prior to adolescence. Their bodies are beginning to change and physical appearance is becoming more important to many of them. At this age, students may be quite self-conscious both about their appearance and performance. During this stage, children often judge themselves and others as too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, too pale or too dark. Bloch states that “during the elementary years, children often compare themselves with peers in order to evaluate abilities. In the process, they learn about ways in which physical appearances differ. All too often these differences are put-down and ridiculed by other children and/or adults.”3 At this point, they begin to develop a sense that physical traits have meaning i.e. thin is good whereas fat is lazy or pale is good while dark is bad. In their book, Your Nine-Year-Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious, Ames and Haber state that “the most popular tend to be the muscular, strongly built boys and girls who relate easily to others and are looked up to and admired by the less mature, less capable students . . . Their physical attractiveness makes them popular.”4 As a result of these changing attitudes, many children suddenly begin to feel that they have to look a certain way in order to be accepted by their peer group and ultimately society. With increased focus on their outward appearance and that of others, students need to be constantly reminded and reassured that they are beautiful and special because of what is on the inside rather than because of their physical appearance. This unit will be aimed at doing just that.

Adults as well as children are often influenced by the media, especially in the area of television and film. A primary message conveyed by the media relative to physical appearance is that if you are young, thin, “beautiful”, and the right color, you are considered acceptable to society. On the other hand, however, if you are old, fat, “ugly”, and the wrong color, you are viewed as unacceptable. Television and film for children are no exception. They often send the message that if an individual is perceived as physically attractive, he or she will be successful. Conversely, if society perceives an individual as unattractive physically, he or she will not be successful. Children, especially girls, are programmed early on to feel they have to look like “Barbie” in order to live a happy, successful life. They are programmed to believe that if they are tall, thin, and “beautiful”, they will find Prince Charming and live happily ever after! Boys, however, are not immune to these messages regarding physical appearance. Boys are conditioned to believe that if they are fit and muscular and possess the smoldering good looks of today’s professional athletes and action heroes, they will be successful. Children need to be “reprogrammed”, if you will, to recognize and understand that it is a person’s inner beauty, an innate goodness, that brings happiness and success. Due to the influence media has on my students, I intend to use it to motivate discussion with regard to this issue of beauty and what truly makes a person “beautiful”.

My unit will use various children’s films, especially Disney Productions, as well as a variety of children’s literature to expose my students to the positive and negative depictions of physical appearance in an attempt to show them that “Beauty is More Than Skin Deep”; that true beauty comes from within. The purpose of this unit is to increase students’ awareness of how physical characteristics influence their perception of various characters. I will begin the unit by showing my students a series of photographs of children their age of various sizes/shapes, ethnic backgrounds, etc. and ask them to select the person who they feel would make a good friend. At this point, I will record students’ responses on a chart and then we will discuss their reasons for choosing a particular person. After a brief discussion, I will read a short biography on each of the photographed children and ask students if they still feel the person they initially chose would be a suitable friend. Further discussion will ensue and students will be allowed to make changes based on this new information. I will explain that just as many of them initially chose someone because they looked a certain way, society, too, often accepts (or rejects) individuals based on how they look. I will discuss with students the fact that some of their responses changed after learning about the person initially chosen. At this time, I will stress to students that “Beauty is More Than Skin Deep”: that it is far more important to be a beautiful person on the inside—that a person’s inner beauty makes them attractive and therefore, acceptable to us and ultimately—to society. We will then view and observe all of the films in their entirety and discuss the following story elements of each: the setting, the main and minor characters, the plot, etc. with special emphasis on the characters in the film and the way in which they are depicted. I will begin each discussion by asking my students how they feel about a particular character and why they feel this way. For example, “How do you feel about Cinderella?” ”Why do you feel this way about her?” “What characteristics does she possess that make you feel this way?” “How is she portrayed in this film?” After some discussion of the characters portrayed, I will emphasize again that a character’s inner beauty (or lack thereof) is what attracts us to a certain character or causes us to dislike him/her. This unit will be interdisciplinary in approach. As previously stated, it will tie in nicely with Project Charlie as well as lend itself to various reading, writing, language and art activities. We will culminate this unit by creating an original film centered around this topic of beauty.

Cinderella is the tale of an orphan girl, Cinderella, who is forced to live with an evil stepmother and her two evil stepsisters. Though burdened with endless chores and dressed in rags, Cinderella radiates beauty because of her inner beauty and innate goodness as seen in her loving relationships with her friends, the animals. With the help of these special friends and a fairy godmother, Cinderella’s “beauty” is revealed to the Prince who falls in love with her and asks her to be his wife. Cinderella is depicted as young, thin, beautiful with long, flowing blonde hair and tiny feet while her evil stepsisters are referred to as “ugly daughters” and “lazy” and portrayed as fat and ugly with big feet. The evil stepmother is similarly portrayed as fat and ugly with a long pointy nose, long dark arched eyebrows, and dark circles around her eyes. Even the stepmother’s cat is depicted as fat and black with a mean scowl and is described as “disagreeable”. The apparent message being that if you are young, thin, and physically attractive; you are a good person and will be rewarded with a handsome prince and live happily ever after. However, if you are fat and physically unattractive; you are a bad person who will end up alone. At this point, I would stress that while Cinderella is no doubt beautiful, it is her “inner beauty” that makes her attractive, and therefore, led to her ultimate happiness and not the reverse. After an extensive discussion of Cinderella we will then read other versions of the Cinderella story from around the world. We will begin by reading and discussing the African version, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. Afterwards, we will compare and contrast the original version with its African counterpart using a Venn Diagram as shown on the right. Similarly, we will use Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast the original Cinderella story with versions from Korea(The Korean Cinderella) Egypt (The Egyptian Cinderella), and China(Yeh Shin: A Cinderella Story from China).

Example of Venn Diagram Comparing/Contrasting Cinderella and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

(figure available in print form)
Sleeping Beauty is the story of little Princess Aurora, daughter of King Stefan and his queen. It begins on the day of Princess Aurora’s Christening when the wicked fairy, Maleficent, casts a spell on the little princess that on her sixteenth birthday, the Princess shall prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die! Fearing for their daughter’s life, the King and Queen send little Aurora to live with three good fairies: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Her sixteenth birthday arrives and Princess Aurora is returned to the castle where Maleficent is waiting to encourage her to touch the spinning wheel. Despite warnings from the three good fairies, Aurora pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep: a sleep that can only be broken by her true love’s first kiss! Prince Phillip, who is being held captive by Maleficent, escapes and rushes to find Princess Aurora. Phillip kisses the lovely Aurora, who awakens, and the two marry and live happily ever after. In this classic tale, Princess Aurora is young, thin, and beautiful with long, blonde hair and dressed in a brightly colored, flowing gown. The three good fairies, though older and plum, are also dressed in bright colors whereas the wicked fairy, Maleficent, is ugly, colored green, and dressed in black. Again, I would emphasize that Sleeping Beauty’s “inner beauty” make her a beautiful person and not her outward appearance. After viewing Sleeping Beauty, we will create a Character Map listing the characteristics of both Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Maleficent. On the left hand side, I will have students fill in characteristics of Princess Aurora and on the right hand side, characteristics of Maleficent. On the top arrow, they will write words or phrases describing how Princess Aurora feels about Maleficent while on the bottom arrow, they will write words or phrases describing how Maleficent feels about Princess Aurora.

Example of Character Map for Sleeping Beauty

(figure available in print form)
Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarf’s is the story of Snow White. When Snow White’s vain and wicked stepmother, the Queen, consults her magic mirror, her worst fear is confirmed—Snow White’s beauty surpasses even her own! Snow White is then taken to the forest by the Queen’s huntsman to be killed. However, the huntsman, realizing her goodness, cannot kill her. He tells Snow White to run and hide in the forest and never return to the castle. It is in the forest that she befriends seven lovable dwarfs who take her into their home. The Queen soon discovers that Snow White is still alive, and dressed as an ugly, old woman, goes to the Dwarfs’ cottage and gives Snow White a poison apple. Snow White bites into the apple and falls into a deep sleep which can only be broken by love’s first kiss. Luckily, a handsome prince gallops in on his white horse, kisses Snow White, and the two ride off to his castle of Dreams Come True! The wicked stepmother is supposed to be very beautiful. However, her cruelty and egotism make her cold and unappealing. Therefore, she is portrayed as ugly and dressed in a black cloak. Later in the story, she disguises herself as an ugly toothless, old woman dressed in black rags. Snow White, on the other hand, is young, thin, and beautiful with milky white skin and rosy cheeks. Despite being dressed in rags, her inner goodness and caring for the Dwarfs, make her even more attractive. Thus emphasizing that a person who is beautiful on the inside is made beautiful on the outside. Following the film, we will construct Semantic Maps of Snow White, the Queen, and the Dwarfs which will show the characteristics of each, their actions, and how they feel about a particular character(s).

(figure available in print form)
The Lion King is the story of Simba, heir to King Mufasa’s throne over the animals in the Serengeti. It begins with Rafiki’s announcement of Simba’s birth and eventual succession to his father’s royal seat. All the animals in the land are there to celebrate Simba’s birth—everyone, that is, except Scar, Mufasa’s evil brother. Realizing the birth of Simba knocks him out of the running as successor to the throne, Scar devises a plan to kill Mufasa and become king. An added benefit comes when Simba blames himself for his father’s death and flees, leaving Scar’s succession to the throne unthreatened. Eventually, Simba realizes his mistaken belief and returns to reclaim the land and his throne. Scar is killed and peace and goodness reign again in the Serengeti. Mufasa is represented as light, strong and muscular with a powerful voice. He comes across as very masculine. Scar, on the other hand, is depicted as dark, weak and gangly with a more effeminate voice. Simba is also portrayed as light while the hyenas are dark with a very streetwise dialect. The implied message here being that light is good while dark is evil. Of course, I will explain that traditionally goodness is portrayed as light while evil has traditionally been depicted as dark but that does not necessarily mean light is good and dark is evil. Rather, it is a person’s inner beauty that makes them good or a lack thereof that makes them evil. Prior to viewing Disney’s The Lion King I will have students complete an Anticipation Guide. In an Anticipation Guide, students are given a series of statements with which they are asked to agree or disagree. The statements are related to concepts, issues, or attitudes presented in a reading selection, or in this case, a film. The purpose is to give 3-5 statements that will result in a difference of opinion thereby generating discussion and debate. An example of a possible Anticipation Guide for this film follows below.

to top

Anticipation Guide for the Lion King

Agree Disagree
1. Lions are ferocious beasts who kill.
2. Lions are cuddly and cute.
3. It would be fun to be King.
4. It is important to do whatever you have to do to achieve your goals.
After viewing this film, we will then discuss each statement and whether we agree or disagree based on what we have seen in The Lion King.

The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, tells the story of Dorothy, a young girl from Kansas who is blown away by a tornado. Dorothy and her dog, Toto, land in the magical land of Oz. To get home, Dorothy must find the Wizard of Oz, who lives in the Emerald City. Along the way, Dorothy encounters a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, who for personal reasons, decide to join Dorothy in her search for the Wizard. However, their journey to the Emerald City is complicated by the Wicked Witch of the West who wants her dead sister’s ruby slippers returned. Everyone loves Glinda, the Good Witch of the North while they love to hate the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wicked Witch is portrayed as old, ugly, colored green, and dressed in dark, drab clothing whereas Glinda, the Good Witch is young, beautiful with milky white skin, and wears an elegantly bejeweled, flowing costume, clearly demonstrating that “UGLY” is “BAD” and “BEAUTY” is “GOOD”. Similarly, Dorothy herself is portrayed as young, thin, and cute with her long, curly ponytails while the Wizard is projected as powerful, old, ugly, and scary looking with flames and smoke engulfing his face. Once again, signifying that youth and beauty is acceptable whereas being old and unattractive is not. The audience is compelled to regard the Wicked Witch and the Wizard as representations of evil because they are portrayed as old and ugly. On the other hand, they identity with Glinda, the Good Witch and Dorothy because of their goodness which is portrayed as young and beautiful. However, appearances can be deceiving when the Wizard is revealed for the man he really is. While now just a stout, bald, weak man, his inner goodness attracts us to him and enables us to identify with him finally. Thus demonstrating that a person’s inner beauty is what makes a person attractive. Following The Wizard of Oz we will construct a Feelings Chart as shown below which will analyze characters’ feelings/reactions to particular events in the film. It will also serve as a vehicle for comparing and contrasting characters. I will give students 3-4 events from the film and ask them to list adjectives describing Dorothy’s, the Wicked Witch’s, the Good Witch’s, and the Scarecrow’s, Tin Man’s, and Cowardly Lion’s feelings/reactions to each of these occurrences. (The students will be asked to describe the Scarecrow’s, Tin Man’s, and Cowardly Lion’s feelings/reactions as a group rather than individually as their responses are basically the same.)

to top

Feelings Chart for The Wizard of Oz

Events Dorothy Wicked Good Scarecrow, Tin Man,
Witch Witch Cowardly Lion
1. During a tornado, a house
____falls on top of the Wicked
____Witch of the East killing her.
2. Glinda, the Good Witch,
____transfers the ruby slippers from
____the dead witch’s feet to Dorothy’s.
3. Dorothy reaches The Emerald
____City and meets the Wizard with
____the help of the Scarecrow, the
____Tin Man, & the Cowardly Lion.
4. After fulfilling the Wizard’s
____wishes, Dorothy is returned
____safely to her home in Kansas.
Other classic examples of this notion of appearances being deceiving can be seen in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Jungle Book, and The Big Green.

Beauty and the Beast is the tale of a prince who has everything. He is spoiled, selfish, and unkind. One evening an old beggar woman comes to his castle seeking shelter from the cold in return for a beautiful rose. The unkind prince sneers at her because of her haggard appearance and dismisses her. The old woman warns him not to be deceived by her appearance for beauty is found within. She is then transformed into a beautiful enchantress. The prince apologizes but he is too late for she could see there is no love in his heart and as punishment, turns him into a hideous beast. She leaves him with the enchanted rose which will bloom until his twenty-first birthday. If he can learn to love another and be loved in return, the spell will be broken. However, if he can not, then he shall remain a beast forever. In this classic tale, appearances truly are deceiving. The “Beast” is depicted as a massive creature who is dark and ugly. While once a vicious monster, he clearly softens at Belle’s beauty and goodness and eventually his own goodness and “beauty” begin to shine through. On the other hand, Gaston on the surface appears to be every woman’s fantasy: tall, dark, muscular, handsome. In fact, the women refer to him as “gorgeous”. However, Gaston is also arrogant and evil. In fact, it is Gaston who Belle calls “monster” because of his wrong doings. Meanwhile, the Beast, with some encouragement from the tea kettle, who suggests he help Belle see past his looks, shows that he really is gentle, kind, and caring. Despite the fact that he is no “Prince Charming”, eventually Belle’s love for the Beast and his inner beauty transform him back into a handsome prince and his castle goes from a dark and dreary shell to a magical place once more. Although Belle is young, thin, and beautiful, she is considered an outcast by the townspeople because of her love of books. She is believed to be just as crazy as her father because of her desire for knowledge. However, Gaston is more than willing to overlook Belle’s “craziness” because she is so beautiful. While Gaston loves Belle solely for her appearance, the Beast falls in love with Belle for the person she is on the inside. Thus reinforcing the concept that “inner beauty” is what truly makes a person beautiful. Students will complete a Polar Opposites Guide after watching Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast. A Polar Opposite Guide helps students analyze characters by having them rate one or more characters on a scale of three, five, or seven points. A list of the character’s characteristics are given along with the opposites of these characteristics. Students then rate the characteristics which should in turn generate discussion of the character(s). I will have students complete guides for the Beast, Belle, and Gaston. An example of a Polar Opposite Guide for The Beast follows below.

to top

Polar Opposites Guide

The Beast

mean ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ kind

sad ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ happy

hot-tempered & rough ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ easy-going & gentle

confident ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ unsure

popular ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ unpopular

Other activities involving this film will be completed after viewing Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Jungle Book.

Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the story of the evil Judge Claude Frollo and his brutal soldiers who despise gypsies because they are believed to represent all that is bad in the world. Because of his intense hatred for gypsies and believing one of the women has stolen something, Judge Frollo chases her and accidentally kills her. When he retrieves the bundle of “stolen goods”, he realizes that it is a misshapen baby which he calls “monster”. Since he was responsible for the infant’s mother’s death, the archdeacon insists that Frollo adopt the child. Frollo agrees provided the child, Quasimodo, can live in the bell tower hidden from the rest of the world. The archdeacon agrees and it is there that Quasimodo lives alone for the next eighteen years. His only friends are three stone gargoyles who suggest Quasimodo go to the festival. Quasimodo hesitates because the warped Frollo has convinced him he is not “normal”. However, he finally agrees to go and disguises himself in a hooded cloak. It is at the festival that he literally stumbles upon Esmeralda, a beautiful gypsy girl who enthuses “great mask!” when she glimpses Quasimodo’s face under his hood. Esmeralda even winks at him as she dances and later pulls him up on the stage with other masked festival goers. At one point she goes to remove his “mask” and realizes it is no disguise at all! Quasimodo is then paraded through the streets as the ugliest King of Fools ever. The crowd throws fruit and taunts him. They even tie him to a pillory. Finally, Esmeralda comes to Quasimodo’s aid. Back in the bell tower, she compliments his mini-model of Paris and tells him he is not the monster his master says he is. She kisses him after he helps her escape from Frollo and his men. The stone gargoyles convince Quasimodo that the beautiful Esmeralda loves him but he soon realizes that it is Phoebus, one of Frollo’s men, she really loves. During a confrontation with Frollo, Quasimodo knocks him to the floor and shouts, “All my life you have told me that the world is a dark and cruel place. But now I see that the only thing dark and cruel about it is you!” The once feared and taunted Quasimodo is now cheered and celebrated as the town’s hero! At the beginning of this tale, Clopin, the puppeteer, poses the riddle: “Can you guess who is the monster and who is the man?” One might initially respond that Frollo is the man and Quasimodo, the monster. However, after seeing Quasimodo’s dramatic story, it is clear that he is in fact a kind, caring, lovable man while Frollo is a mean, horrible monster whose hatred and ignorance caused him to do many cruel deeds. Quasimodo is portrayed as a disfigured hunchback with large, droopy eyes and several missing teeth while Frollo’s long, pointed features and black attire add to his evilness. Although Quasimodo does not win the love and affection of the beautiful Esmeralda, she does look beyond his physical appearance and accept him for the person he is on the inside demonstrating once again that a person’s inner beauty is far more important than their appearance. Prior to viewing this movie, I will show my students a picture of Quasimodo and elicit their feelings about him which I will record on a Character Web like the one on the right.

(figure available in print form)
We would then view and discuss the film thoroughly after which we will create a second web listing their feelings about Quasimodo now. A comparison will be made of the two webs to see how, if at all, our feelings toward Quasimodo changed after we got to know him. At this point, I will reinforce the idea that a person’s inner beauty makes them attractive rather than their physical appearance. Students will also complete a Contrast Chart contrasting the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with Quasimodo. On a Contrast Chart, students list ways in which characters differ. Similar charts could also be created contrasting Gaston with Frollo and Belle with Esmeralda. An example of a Contrast Chart comparing the Beast with Quasimodo follows.

to top

Contrast Chart

Quasimodo Beast
lovable & kind mean & selfish
always looked turned into beast
this way

stays the same becomes better person
throughout film by end of film
I will also show students portions of other versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame which we will compare and contrast with the Disney version.

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is the story of Mowgli, whose father works for Major Brydon. It begins when the feared tiger, Shara Kan, raids Major Brydon’s camp and kills Mowgli’s father. Mowgli is separated from the others in the camp when the horse-draw wagon he is in takes off into the jungle. Raised by wild animals since childhood, Mowgli appears to be nothing more than a beast himself. Eventually, though, Mowgli is drawn away from his life in the jungle by his childhood friend, Kitty, the beautiful daughter of Major Brydon. Mowgli has to contend with Kitty’s fiance, Captain Boone, who will stop at nothing to have both Kitty and the mythical treasures of Monkey City. With the help of his loyal animals friends, Mowgli saves Kitty and her father from the corrupt Captain Boone and his band of thieves. Because he does not look like the others and initially only grunts like an animal, he is referred to (and treated) as a “savage” and “uncivilized”. Kitty is warned to fear him because he is thought of as a wild animal. Kitty, however, attempts to civilize him by teaching him to speak properly, dress, and act like the others in the group. Sensing Captain Boone’s corruptness, Mowgli states that if this is what it means to be civilized, he would rather be uncivilized and returns to the jungle. Although on the surface Mowgli appears to be nothing more than a beast, it is Captain Boone who is truly a beast because of his evil nature. Because of Mowgli’s inner beauty and love for Kitty, he is truly the hero of this tale. Following an extensive discussion of Disney’s The Jungle Book, I will ask students to respond in writing to Mowgli, who senses Captain Boone’s corruptness and comments, “if this is what it means to be civilized, I’d rather be uncivilized . . . ” In addition, I will have students write an essay discussing the similarities and differences between the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mowgli. Similarly, students could also write an essay describing the likenesses and differences between the women in these films: Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Kitty.

Disney’s The Big Green is the story of a group of misfit kids living in small town Elma, Texas where nothing exciting ever happens. Bored with life in Elma, these mischievous misfits cause their latest teacher’s departure which leaves them in need of a new teacher. British schoolteacher Anna Montgomery arrives full of enthusiasm and hope. However, it is not long before she too begins to feel that it is hopeless and contemplates leaving. In an effort to motivate her students, she decides to form a soccer team. Although they are all beginners except for a Mexican boy named Juan, Ms. Montgomery joins the local soccer league where they encounter a team of big city bullies, The Knights. Eventually Juan leads this team of underdogs to victory over The Knights. Initially labeled losers because of the way they look and perform on the field, this team demonstrates that appearances are definitely deceiving when they beat The Knights, who

(figure available in print form)
seem to have it all. They show everyone that you do not have to look like a “winner” to be one! Everyone loves this team of misfits who call themselves The Big Green which is made up of a chubby goalie, Larry; a runty boy, Newt; girls; and a Mexican boy, Juan, who everyone thinks is different because of his Mexican heritage. Because they can not afford uniforms, they are forced to wear their regular clothes unlike their rivals, The Knights, with their fancy black uniforms. Though basically unskilled at the sport, they work hard and try their best proving to themselves and everyone else that hard work and believing in yourself lead to success and not simply looking like a winner. Following The Big Green, students will complete a Double-Entry Journal in which they write personal responses to quotes from the film. The purpose of the Double-Entry Journal is to facilitate further discussion of the film. On the left hand side I will give students several quotes from the film and on the right hand side, they will record their responses to that quote. An example of the Double-Entry Journal is shown below.

to top

Double-Entry Journal for The Big Green

Quote from Film Response
1. “Don’t waste your time with us.
____We’re losers!”
____(Larry to Ms. Montgomery)
2. “We don’t play soccer.
____It’s for foreigners!”
____(class to Ms. Montgomery)
3. “All you have to do is believe
____in yourselves!”
____(Ms. Montgomery to class)
4. “They don’t even look like a team!”
____(Knights to Big Green)
5. “You’ve got little kids and you’ve
____got girls!*? I guess they didn’t tell

____you we won the league

____championships last year!”

____(Knights‘ coach to Sheriff Tom

____& Ms. Montgomery)

6. “Giving up before you’ve ever

____really started is a sad way to live

____your life. You keep your talents

____hidden and undiscovered, you only

____ cheat yourself!” (Ms. Montgomery to Kate)

7. “Playing like a team is more important than winning!’

____(Sheriff Tom to Big Green)

to top

Lesson Plan

Objectives  To introduce the concept “Beauty is more than skin deep”.


-several photographs of students of various sizes/shapes, ethnic backgrounds, etc.
-short biography for each of the above mentioned photographs


1. Show students photographs of children their age of various sizes/shapes, ethnic backgrounds, etc. and have them select someone they feel would make a good friend.
2. Record students’ responses on chart.
3. Discuss reasons for choosing one particular person over another.
4. Display each photograph again and this time read a short biography of each person.
5. Ask students how they feel about their choices now that they know a little about them.
6. Record any changes on the chart.
7. Explain that just as many of them initially choose someone because they looked a certain way, so does society.
8. Discuss fact that some responses changed after they learned about the person they originally chose.
9. At this point, I will stress that “Beauty is More Than Skin Deep”: that it is far more important to be a beautiful person on the inside—that a person’s inner beauty makes them attractive and acceptable to us and ultimately to society.

to top

Lesson Plan

Objectives  To compare and contrast different versions of the same story.


-film Cinderella
-book Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
-transparency or chart with Venn Diagram
-blank copy of Venn Diagram for students


1. View Disney’s Cinderella and discuss plot.
2. Read Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe and discuss plot.
3. Complete a Venn Diagram similar to the one below comparing and contrasting both stories.

Example of Venn Diagram Comparing/Contrasting Cinderella and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

(figure available in print form)
4. Repeat procedures with other versions of the Cinderella story such as: The Korean Cinderella, The Egyptian Cinderella, Yeh-Shin: A Cinderella Story from China.

to top

Lesson Plan


1. To recognize our differences.
2. To identify qualities that make us special and unique individuals.
3. To create a “Wanted” poster illustrating a special quality.


-Project Charlie Lesson 6 “Uniqueness” on pgs. 47-50 of section on Self-Awareness
-blank “Wanted” poster for each student
-photograph of each student


1. Begin with Project Charlie Lesson 6 “Uniqueness” on pgs. 47-50 of section on Self-Awareness.
2. Discuss and list qualities that make each of us special and unique individuals.
3. Create “Wanted” poster depicting each students’ special quality and display in classroom.
(figure available in print form)

to top


1. Berne, Patricia H. and Louis M. Savary. Building Self-Esteem in Children, pg. XV.
2. Bloch, Douglas with Jon Merritt. Positive Self;Talk for Children: Teaching Self-Esteem Through Affirmations: A Guide for Parents Teachers and Counselors, pg. 65.
3. Bloch, pg. 76.
4. Ames, Louise Bates and Carol Chase Haber. Your Nine-Year-Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious, pg. 32.

to top

Teacher Bibliography

Ames, Louise Bates and Carol Chase Haber. Your Nine-Year-Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious. New York: Delacorte Press, 1987.

An excellent guide to better understanding the nine-year-old.

Andersen, Yvonne. Make Your Own Animated Movies. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1970.

An excellent handbook giving valuable tips about equipment and supplies. Also, tips and tested activities for making animated movies.

Andersen, Yvonne. Make Your Own Movies and Videotapes. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1971.

An excellent up-to-date guide on the art of filmmaking.

Berne, Patricia H. and Louis M. Savary. Building Self-Esteem in Children. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1981.

An excellent guide for building self-esteem in children.

Bloch, Douglas with Jon Merritt. Positive Self-Talk for Children: Teaching Self-Esteem Through Affirmations: A Guide for Parents Teachers and Counselors. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.

An excellent guide for anyone who deals with children on a regular basis.

Yopp, Hallie Kay and Ruth Helen Yopp. Literature-Based Reading Activities. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1992.

An excellent guide of literature-based reading activities which gives activities to be done before, during, and/or after reading.

to top

Student Bibliography

Climo, Shirley. The Egyptian Cinderella. New York: Crowell, 1989.

In this version of Cinderella, set in Egypt, Rhodopes, a slave girl, eventually comes to be chosen by the Pharaoh to be his queen.

Climo, Shirley. The Korean Cinderella. Mexico: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.

Another version of the popular Cinderella story set in Korea.

Louie, Ah-Ling. Yeh-Shin: A Cinderella Story from China. New York: Philomel Books, 1982.

In this version, a young Chinese girl, Yeh-Shin, overcomes the wickedness of her stepmother and stepsister to become the bride of the prince.

Steptoe, John. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1987.

In this version of Cinderella, set in Africa, Mufaro’s two beautiful daughters, one bad-tempered, one kind & sweet, go before the king who is looking for a wife.

to top


Beauty and the Beast. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video. 84 min.

Cinderella. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video, 1988. 76 min.

Sleeping Beauty. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video. 75 min.

Snow White. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video. 84 min.

The Big Green. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video. 100 min.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video. 111 min.

The Lion King. (Videocassette). Walt Disney Home Video. 88 min.

The Wizard of Oz from the book by L. Frank Baum. (Videocassette).

MGM/UA Home Video, 1985. 1 hr., 41 min.

Character Map

(figure available in print form)
Samantic Map

(figure available in print form)
Venn Diagram)

(figure available in print form)

to top

Contents of 1996 Volume III | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2016 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI