Moana Inspired Curriculum Ideas
My daughter is standing on the beach at Coney Island facing the water and belting out the words to Moana's title track. I'm certain she isn't the only little kid right now obsessed with the songs and characters from Disney's movie Moana.
I am never overly thrilled with the idea of basing our learning around a show or movie, but in the interest of truly following their interests this is sometimes where our learning takes us. My daughter loves music and musicals so her interests often head our projects in that direction.
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Our Moana Inspired Curriculum actually surprised me with the depth and different directions that we could run with it. This movie inspired learning about the ocean, volcanoes, Hawaii, and of course music. Our favorite activities are below so if your kids are also in love with Moana or you just ordered your own copy then these ideas are for you.
When I start planning the unit I often start with the books. I gather books and look to nonfiction ones to help guide me in brainstorming where our project might go. These were our favorites during the Moana Unit, however we also read many ocean themed books not included below.
Disney Moana : Read Along Storybook and CD
Our kids love audio books and while we do have a whole bunch that we made ourselves, we also buy them or borrom additional ones from the library from time to time. We own this one and it has been a popular one for the past few months. It retells the basics of the Moana movie.
Moana Finds the Way by RH Disney
As Easy Readers go this is a decent one and my daugher adores it. The simple text also make these an easy one to read aloud to younger children as well. This story focuses on Moana's bravery and persistence. I love the positive message.
Moana and the Ocean by Heather Knowles
It is the illustrations that we love about this one. They are beautiful and capture the story of Moana and her unique relationship with the ocean perfectly.
Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai'i by Gerald McDermott
My kids loved this fun colorful book. It is a story about Kamapua'a, a popular figure in Hawaiian mythology. It is full of humor, shape shifting and all kinds of adventure.
Goodnight Hawaii by Adam Gamble
This is part of a Goodnight series of books about each state. We have several from the different places we have lived and they all give a general overview of the state in a sweet childlike way. It isn't obvious from the title, but these books all show a whole day. You start in the morning and then at the end say goodnight to the state. Throughout they offer some great vocabulary and I like them as a starting point when we're talking about somewhere different.
Froggy Goes to Hawaii by Jonathan London
This is just silly as all Froggy books are but being the Froggy fans we are when I saw it was Hawaii themed I couldn't resist. If you like Froggy, this is as delightful as ever.
Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes by Kathy Furgang
My son was fascinated when he learned about Hawaii's relationship to volcanoes and had to know more. National Geographic Kids books have become my go-to for non-fiction and they didn't disappoint. The pictures were awesome and the facts where interesting. We all learned something new from this book.
Volcanoes by Anne Schreiber
We already owned this one, but it was read many times during this unit. If you have a younger kid, I would recommend reading this one other than the longer, more complex one above. This is a good introduction to volcanoes and still has National Geographic's trademark amazing photography.
High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne
This is part of the Magic Treehouse Series and while you certainly can read them in order you shouldn't feel like you have to. If you haven't read any, I suggest starting with the first one so you understand the basic premise. This was the first real chapter book series I read with my kids and we started when they were about 3 years old. These are another go-to for me when I'm planning a unit and I often find something related in her huge catelogue of books. My kids love the adventures of Jack and Annie and this Hawaii set tsunami adventure was perfect.
BONUS: This Magic Treehouse installment also has a non-fiction companion guide about Tsunamis and other natural disastors that we couldn't get enough of!
Field trips or adventures are a HUGE part of our learning and that was no different with our Moana inspired unit. I wish we could have jetted on a plane to Hawaii but that wasn't in the cards for this Fall so we made do with nearby resources.
Our Moana Inspired unit took place in the Winter when boating isn't really possible in New York, but this would be a fun additional to a Moana inspired unit given so much of the movie takes place on a boat. We have done some kayaking and canoeing with our twins, so here are our top tips if you want to give it a try.
All you need is some sort of tray (this is a Melissa and Doug toy tray) or a bunch of bowls and a variety of sea shells. I laid it out exactly as pictured with the word "SORT" and the word "SEASHELLS" printed on index cards on the table.
Once the shells were sorted, this tray with shells was added to the shelf in our play space so they could continue to explore, pattern, sort, or incorporate the shells into other play.
Skills Area: Math. Science.
I set out morning invitations every day, but on the weekend they tend to be a little more involved. This was a Moana inspired one for a Saturday morning. All I needed for this was a big piece of paper, some markers, the shell tray from above, our Moana figures, some books from above, and letter stickers.
Skill Area: Literacy. Creativity. Math.
This building invitation was another morning invitation. This was super simple and quick to set up.
Activity: To use the blocks to build a boat for Moana and Maui.
Skill Areas: Cognitive. Social. Creative. Math.
I also created several literacy and math printables that we used during our unit. These worked on sight words, writing, simple addition and other skills for preschoolers and early elementary schoolers.
Skill Areas: Math. Literacy. Creativity.
Work on basic math skills while concocting this fun Moana inspired punch together. Find Recipe Here.
Skill Areas: Math. Self Help.
We did this before as part of a subscription box (that sadly no longer exists) but we did it again with our Moana unit. This is a simple activity that requires only a few materials - check the materials list at the bottom of this post for everything you need. Here's another version of the No-Vinegar volcano on Preschool Powol Packets as well.
Skill Areas: Math. Science.
* Dry Ice Volcano STEM Challenge from Preschool Powol Packets - this looks so cool!
*If you're enjoying Winter right now - this Snow Volcano from Science Sparks also looks like a blast.
*New Zealand Volcano Experiments from Preschool Powol Packets. I love how colorful this one is.
This was another morning invitation that focused more on my son's fascination with volcanoes.
Activities: Read the volcano book (or look at it), Spell out the word Volcano, Build a volcano with Foam Dough, and Create another picture of one with the construction paper and glue.
Skill Areas: Literacy. Creativity. Cognitive. Fine Motor.
and other varied. See specific activities.
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