Watch This, Do That: Mary Poppins

Though the original Mary Poppins movie was released by Disney in 1964, it gains new fans every generation. The story of the overworked Banks parents looking for a nanny knows no time, though it is set in 1910 London. The mystical and mysterious Mary Poppins floats down from the clouds to help the Banks family as the children’s keeper, taking them on magical adventures and meeting amazing people. But when Mr. Banks takes the kids for a day to learn about how a bank actually works is when the hijinks – and the healing – begins.

Kids watch Mary Poppins and dream about the wonderful adventures the children have; parents watch it and dream about taking time to fly a kite. The bond that the Banks family shares is worth discussing and after you watch the movie as a family, here are a few other topics to talk about with kids:

  • Talk with your kids about money. Let this be an ongoing conversation, but consider how the run on the bank could have been avoided if the Banks family had talked about the difference between spending and saving instead of just demanding that all money go into a bank. Make sure your kids are money conscious and understand some basic principles of saving, spending and fun money (and for the sake of the Old Bird Woman, discuss charitable giving, too).
  • Make time for family. Prioritizing family and a job is a tale that isn’t exclusive to this century. Mr. Banks was so busy at the bank that he didn’t feel that he had time to listen to his children and Mrs. Banks made social activism her full-time job, thus the need for a nanny for two adorable children. When the Banks parents learned that what their children really needed was time together for kite flying, it was almost too late. Talk to your kids about the importance of spending time working – and what your job means to the family – then make time for just them so that they can understand the balance. 
  • Change can be both good and sad. When Mary Poppins arrives to help the Banks children, she promises to stay “until the wind changes.” The children are sad when it’s time for her to leave, just as they’d found a nanny they wanted to keep around. The wind change also brought with it a change in the family, one in which the father accepted a new and better job and both parents were more attentive to the kids. When change happens in your family – whether it’s a job change or moving to a new house and school – let kids know that it’s OK to be sad and help them find the positives.

Movie-inspired activities

Rainbow Sugar Water Density Experiment, photo credit Little Bins for Little Hands

Now that you’ve seen Mary Poppins, try these screen-free activities inspired by the movie.

  • Try this sugar experiment. Sure, a spoonful of sugar can help the medicine go down, but what else can it do? Learn about density with this sugar science experiment from Little Bins for Little Hands.
  • Learn three new jokes. Uncle Albert was stuck on the ceiling because he “loved to laugh.” In the spirit of Uncle Albert, kids can learn three new jokes to tell on their next Zoom with relatives.
  • Clean your money. After you’ve talked with your kids about the importance of money and how saving and spending works, try one of these experiments, like how to clean dirty coins.
  • Read the original. Mary Poppins’ adventures started in the mind of author PL Travers, and the five-book set will introduce kids to new characters and more titles.
  • Chalk your walk. When Bert was a “screever,” the adventures happened when the children popped into his chalk pavement pictures. Let your kids become screevers (British word for chalk artist) and take up entire sections of the sidewalk or driveway (if you collect money like Bert did, pick a charity to donate it to). 

Have a Watch This, Do That idea you want to share with our readers? Send your idea to editor@chicagoparent.com with your suggestion for a movie. We’d love to share your idea on ChicagoParent.com.


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