Raya is a warrior princess, the daughter of a single father who is the chief of one of the five lands of Kumandra. When a long-banished “plague” called the Druun returns, Raya is on a mission to find the last dragon, Sisu, who fell asleep after the last time the Druun were banished 500 years ago.
The motley crew then has to reunite all pieces of a broken dragon gem to bring back everyone harmed by the plague, including Raya’s father, in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon.
This isn’t your typical Disney Princess movie, it’s more of a princess movie with a quest. After a long prologue that explains how the gem was broken and what the quest is, there are a lot of deeper topics for you to discuss with your kids:
- Trust is earned and lost. Raya followed in her father’s footsteps at the unity dinner by trusting Namaari, who was her age and also the daughter of a single-mother chief. Then, Namaari lost Raya’s trust by trying to steal the dragon gem. Talk to your kids about how important it is to trust people so that we can be friends, but also how quickly and easily people can lose trust, and how important it is to be truthful and honest with our friends.
- Forgiveness is a first step. Sisu says: “Maybe the world is broken because you don’t trust anyone.” Sisu sees that maybe there’s enough good in Namaari to let her in on the plan to save Kumandra. But Raya has a hard time trusting someone she has spent so long being angry at. The only way for the dragon gem to ultimately work is for those who have previously fought against each other to join together and trust each other again. If a relationship is important enough to your kids, they should know that one of the first steps to repair it is to forgive.
- Group projects take the whole group. It took one person from each of the five lands of Kumandra to come together to save the country. Despite their internal trauma — from Noi and Boun losing family members to Tong as the last one alive in his tribe — reverence for those who were previously enemies is important for the “group project” of saving the world to work. When kids are placed in groups in school or camp with the expectation to make something together, sometimes they’ll have to put aside past disagreements for the good of everyone.
Now that you’ve seen Raya and the Last Dragon, try these screen-free activities inspired by the movie.
- Sisu: a dragon activity. Learn more about dragons and dragon lore in Southeast Asian culture reading “Gondra’s Treasure,” by Linda Sue Park. The story explains how different cultures revere dragons in many ways.
- Raya: an exploration activity. Raya becomes an explorer and warrior looking for Sisu. Download this Raya activity packet from Disney with nine pages of activities designed to explore their imagination.
- Boun: a cooking activity. As captain of the “Shrimporium,” Boun — from Tail — makes shrimp and congee that “just won’t quit.” Kids can help make the Kumandra stew from the movie with this recipe from Hyper RPG.
- Noi: a gymnastics activity. Noi, from Talon, is a 2-year-old who hangs out with Ongis (part monkey/part catfish creatures) and the quartet becomes quite the con artists. Try this obstacle course indoors or out to help your kids train like Noi.
- Tong: a bamboo craft. Bamboo is the ingredient from Tong’s home of Spine that was added to the unity dinner. This bamboo wind chime from Farms and Animals can be a fun activity to try with your older kids.
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