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Cinematters - Holes


By Kelly Parthen and Shannon Payette Seip

Unlucky hero shows how to dig out of doldrums

Your kids can't wait for Saturday. Finally, you're taking them to the amusement park for a ride on the spine-tingling new roller coaster. Then, Saturday morning, a major rainstorm hits. Instead of finding ways to have indoor fun, your kids just sulk and complain about their "ruined" weekend.

If your children ever have challenges finding positive ways to deal with negative situations, the new Walt Disney film Holes can teach them to transform their troubles into treasures. After the movie, try our "Misfortune Cookie Dig" to bring the lesson to life.

Based on an award-winning children's book, Holes features an unlikely hero, a boy named Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) who is dogged with bad luck from an ancient family curse. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Stanley is convicted of a crime he didn't commit. He is sentenced to Camp Green Lake--a rundown, critter-infested rehabilitation center for troubled boys.

Camp Green Lake is run by an intimidating warden (Sigourney Weaver) and her squirrelly henchmen, Mr. Sir (Jon Voight) and Mr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson). Each day they force the boys to dig holes in the scorching desert, supposedly to "build character."

Stanley soon discovers the real reason the boys must dig holes--there's a secret buried somewhere in the desert. Stanley must rely on his positive attitude and smart choices to uncover the mystery.

Family Activity: Misfortune Cookie Dig
Your family doesn't need to be plagued by an ancient curse for your child to feel unlucky. Together, do the "Misfortune Cookie Dig" to learn to make the best out of bad situations.

Ask your children what bad luck Stanley ran into--from life at home to his adventures at Camp Green Lake. Then ask your children about times they've felt unlucky. Perhaps your son got in trouble for talking in class, when it was really another jabbering boy. Maybe your daughter broke her right arm before her piano recital. Share some of the times you've felt like you've had hard knocks, too.
Next, talk about the different ways Stanley could have handled his misfortunes. Discuss how his smart choices helped him become a hero and gain good friends. Then ask your children about the ways they could have handled their bad luck--from the worst way to the best way.

Your daughter with the broken arm could have boycotted the recital. She could have attended the recital to support her friends. Or, she could have performed using her left hand while her teacher played the right hand part. Discuss how each misfortune can have a dramatically different outcome depending on your reaction.

Materials needed:
Large marshmallows
Sugar ice cream cones
Small strips of paper
Pens or pencils
Large bowl

Give each person a few strips of paper. On each one, write an unlucky situation in which you might find yourself--for example, "Your bicycle gets a flat tire as you ride to the game," or "Only one of the guests you invited shows up at your party." Don't tell each other what you wrote.

Crumble off the top half of a sugar cone and set aside. Roll up one misfortune and stick it inside the bottom half of the cone. Squeeze a marshmallow into the top of the cone, like a cork. Repeat for the remaining misfortunes.

Place the misfortune cookies in a large bowl and cover with popcorn and the leftover sugar cone crumbles. Take turns digging through the popcorn with a spoon until you scoop up a misfortune cookie. Pop it open and read aloud your misfortune.

While you eat your cookie, brainstorm together how you could best handle the bad luck. Your children will learn that when they feel desperate and stuck like Stanley Yelnats, they can find positive ways to dig themselves out of sticky situations.


E-mail your comments or ideas to [email protected].

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