Watch This, Do That: Moana

As a little girl, Moana was bestowed the Heart of Te Fiti by the ocean. It picked her, despite her family’s insistence that she stay on the shore and become the leader of Montunui, the Pacific island she grew up on. When she finds out that her ancestors were voyagers, Moana finds her destiny is the open sea.

Moana is about self-discovery, adventure and trying new things. After you see the movie, here are a few topics to discuss with kids:

  • Discover who you are. Moana’s father was pretty insistent that Moana not leave the reef and stay on the island. She had to leave to discover her true self, and still came back to lead her people. Encourage kids to try new things – experiments, books, sports and more – to help them discover their passions.
  • Don’t become self-absorbed. Tamatoa the crab is a narcissist who loves his shiny shell and sparkly life. But those were just things, and when he was tempted with something else shiny – which turned out to be a rock – he let Moana and Maui escape the Realm of Monsters with Maui’s fish hook. Teach your kids that being self-absorbed and obsessed with possessions will distance us from friends.
  • Listen to and encourage your friends. Kids by nature are focused on themselves. Moana listened to Maui’s worries about his past and encouraged him, which helped return the magic to his fish hook. She also realized that Te Ka was really just Te Fiti with emotional problems. By listening and learning to those around her, she helped them, too, discover who they truly were.

Movie-inspired activities

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

  • Make your own ocean snacks. Blue Jell-O, crushed graham crackers and a cookie wafer can create a snack fit for ocean royalty with this recipe.
  • Learn to hula dance. As she grows up, Moana teaches the children on Montunui to hula. Your kids can learn to hula with this tutorial from Little Passports.
  • Explore the ocean. Learn about the animals and sea life in the ocean at Shedd Aquarium. If you want to stay closer to home, try some of these “Stay at Home with Shedd” activities.
  • Create your own paper flower lei. Kids can cut and loop paper flower leis like the ones Te Fiti presented to Moana.
  • Learn the history of Pacific Islanders. The history of islands in the Pacific Ocean includes a 2,000-year gap in which colonization slowed and stopped. While this story offers up a fictional explanation of why, teens and tweens can read Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell to learn about the continental United States’ history with Hawaii. Middle-grade readers can check out Samoan Heroes with inspirational stories about people with Samoan ancestry, like Dwayne Johnson (who voices Maui in the movie) and former Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu to learn about the islands and their culture.

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

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