Need a quick way to help students build analysis skills? Use short works. In the past, I’ve talked about using the animated short Hair Love to teach the basics of literary analysis essay writing, the children’s book The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors to practice theme, and the painting Harlequin’s Carnival to show how symbolism can help us make sense of a chaotic world.
The latest gem to add to our collection is Lost & Found, a 7-min. stop motion film that’ll charm your students and give them much to discuss. Note: If you’re new to teaching literary analysis, it’s best to start with theme. Here’s a blog post and free teaching slide set (remember: theme needs to be more than one word) that builds on students’ understanding of Harry Potter and Shrek: https://laurarandazzo.com/how-i-teach-theme-free-slides/
Now, let’s watch Lost & Found:
Are you okay? Get a tissue, if you need it. After viewing (and fixing my mascara), I’d ask students to work either solo or in teams of two to answer the following questions before launching a full-class debrief/discussion:
Click here to add a copy of the questions to your Google Drive. Make sure you’re logged into your Google Drive account before using this “make a copy” link.
1. What’s the relationship between Fox and Dinosaur? Is it friendship? Romantic? Give evidence from the film to support your opinion.
Opinions will vary. Some viewers will see a romantic relationship (evidence: they blow kisses to each other and Fox’s kiss is so strong it knocks Dinosaur over), while others will see a deep friendship (evidence: they live together in the lost and found box yet have separate beds).
2. The cell phone with the cracked screen in the lost and found box could be seen as an element of symbolism. How so?
In the opening sequence, we see photos of the close relationship between Fox and Dinosaur displayed on the phone, but the glass on the phone’s screen is cracked in several places. Those cracks are an element of foreshadowing, hinting at the tragedy that will soon befall their relationship and shatter their happiness. Also, during Dinosaur’s unraveling scene, the cell phone displays a powering down or buffering icon and then goes dark; this happens in tandem with Dinosaur’s last bit of unraveling/death. The phone’s battery has died. Dinosaur is also seemingly dead.
3. Is the ending sad or hopeful? Will Fox succeed in rebuilding Dinosaur? Explain what you think will happen next.
Opinions will vary. As an optimist, I choose to believe that the ending is hopeful and Fox will succeed in rebuilding Dinosaur. If we continue to think about the cell phone as being symbolically connected to the relationship, it can be seen as a sign of encouragement. The phone’s battery is dead, but it can be recharged. It may take great effort to find a charger that will fit the abandoned phone, but it is possible to resurrect the phone and its gallery of delightful photos. In a similar way, it will take great effort, but it is possible that Fox will be able to crochet Dinosaur back together. Also, this is a charming short film about love featuring two adorable stuffed animals. A dark ending doesn’t fit the mood of this piece.
4. In real life, when someone is sad or feeling broken down, loved ones can help rebuild that person. What’s something you could do to help a friend or family member who is feeling down?
Opinions will vary. Expect students to suggest a wide variety of helping, listening, and fun/distraction ideas.
You can end the lesson here, but for older students you might prefer to build on their discussion of Question #4 by asking a follow-up question: Is it possible to love someone too much? (Note: This question is NOT included on the worksheet. If you have a mature group and want to bring in a social/emotional learning moment or need a bridge into a different story about a darker side of love, this discussion extension might be useful.)
There’s nothing in the film to suggest that Fox wasn’t worthy of Dinosaur’s self-sacrifice, yet older students might be ready to consider the implications of completely unravelling yourself to try to save someone else. In the film, Fox seems to reciprocate Dinosaur’s love/sacrifice and I believe Fox will be successful in rebuilding Dinosaur. In real life, though, people don’t always love us to the same degree that we love them; also, our power to save someone who is struggling is limited. Applying this to our lives, what does a healthy loving relationship include? Ask students to brainstorm those elements. Here’s a list of possible elements to include:
• Fun and laughter
• Constructive conflict resolution
• Emotional intimacy
• Physical intimacy
• Shared values and goals
• Time for yourself/independence
Do the characters’ relationship in another piece of literature your class is studying/has studied display these elements?
Hope these lesson materials are useful! Any other short films or artistic works you think English teachers should use in the classroom? Leave a reply in the space below.
Yarn hearts photo licensed via CanvaPro.