This post is one of the ten in Vibrant Homeschooling’s Fabulous Family Movie Nights series. Click here to see the other movies featured and be inspired to plan an interactive learning experience through movies with your family this summer!
Our of our family’s favorite movies in the past few years has to be Dolphin Tale. It is such an encouraging, emotional story of compassion and courage! Not only is the story itself compelling, it leads very naturally into discussions of deeper life issues and piques the interest of those kids interested in marine biology and ocean life, making it a perfect family movie night!
What is Dolphin Tale About?
Dolphin Tale is based on the true story of Winter the dolphin, who was found tangled in a crab trap line on a Florida beach. Although Winter is rescued by a local marine hospital, her tail requires amputation due to the damage done by the entanglement, and the entire community works together to rescue the animal.
A local boy named Sawyer is one of the first people to find Winter stranded on the beach, and they form a quick bond. Sawyer is intrigued by the animal and begins skipping summer school in order to go visit the dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and aid in her recovery. Along the way, Sawyer discovers his passion for marine animals (specifically Winter), develops new friendships, and finds healing and restoration for some big personal issues he’s experiencing. The movie also touches on living with a disability (obviously Winter has one; but Sawyer’s cousin loses a leg in military combat and must find a new direction for his life).
Note: Dolphin Tale has a sequel (Dolphin Tale 2), which my family has yet to see. Based on the reviews I’ve read, it sounds like Dolphin Tale 2 also exudes similar themes as the original movie and would also be an awesome family movie night suggestion.
Dolphin Tale Family Discussions:
There are so many wonderful topics to discuss in this movie. Here are a few questions your family can explore to turn your family movie night into a rich time of connection:
1) What kind of risks did Sawyer take throughout the movie? In what ways was he challenged to be brave? Can you think of a situation where you’ve had to be brave?
2) How does meeting Winter change Sawyer and help him come alive inside? Have you ever studied a certain subject (or gone somewhere or experienced something) that made you feel more alive?
3) Describe Sawyer and Winter’s relationship throughout the movie. How does it grow? Why do you think they have a special connection?
4) How do both Hazel and Sawyer have similar family backgrounds and how do these similarities grow their friendship?
5) How do each of the characters work together to help the dolphin in their different ways? How do they each take risks for Winter?
6) What do you learn about living with a disability from watching this movie? How does what you’ve seen in the movie encourage you to triumph over hard things?
7) Have you ever had a close relationship with an animal? What was it like?
8) How did Kyle’s (Sawyer’s cousin) dream change because of his unexpected injury? Have you ever had a big plan or dream for your life turn out differently than you expected? How did God work all things out for your good?
9) What do you think of this quote from the movie: “Just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you’re broken”?
10) Why do you think so many are encouraged and inspired by Winter’s story? What inspires you the most about the story?
Dolphin Tale Character Traits to Explore:
- Being brave to do things when it’s not popular
- Compassion for animals; compassion for others with life challenges/special needs
- Believing in miracles
- Taking a risk for others
- Stepping out of your comfort zone
- Persevering through tough obstacles
- Having faith when God changes your dreams
- Working as a team around a common goal
Dolphin Tale Learning Activities:
- Since Winter is a real dolphin, you can visit her at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium! And, of course (for those of us who don’t happen to live a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Clearwater, Florida) you can also visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium website and learn more about Winter (and another rescued dolphin at the aquarium named Hope) online.
- Scholastic has a fun, free online study about dolphins called “Winter’s Tail: Lessons & Printables.”
- Homeschool Movie Club offers a free curriculum (including videos and printables) to accompany Dolphin Tale 2 here. You can also read more about it at this post.
- Curr Click offers inexpensive unit studies and other awesome resources about dolphins and marine life.
- Can’t get enough of dolphins? The Magic Tree House book Dolphins at Daybreak is one of my children’s favorites. Click here for other awesome books about dolphins.
- And just for fun, check out these dolphin-themed crafts and activities:
- OperationWeAreHere.com is a website filled with information on how to get involved with disabled veterans and their families. The site is a wealth of information for those who either are disabled themselves (or living with a disabled veteran), along with resources for supporters of military and veteran families.
Dolphin Tale is such an inspiring story that is sure to become a family movie night favorite in your household! Enjoy this time with your family learning, exploring and growing together!
Since each family makes their own determination about which media content is suitable for their individual family members, parents are advised to preview the movie themselves before watching. Some movies may have content not suitable for the youngest audiences. Neither Vibrant Homeschooling nor guest authors in the series will be held responsible for content that your family may or may not deem appropriate in these movies.