For children, some of the most powerful tools for learning include examples and play. The adults in their lives are the most important examples, but movies and television help reinforce important messages and teach valuable life lessons. Hands-on activities also provide a fun way to learn through play.
The following holiday-themed movies, television shows, and activities promote a growth mindset and qualities such as gratitude, persistence, encouragement, and kindness. We hope that you’ll enjoy them with your family this holiday season!
Movies & TV
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas (NR) Based on a popular children’s book, this movie follows the Grinch on his heart-growing journey from hating Christmas to embracing the holiday’s true spirit: love, friendship, gratitude, and joy.|
|Frozen (PG) Although one could argue that Frozen isn’t exactly a holiday movie, it’s seasonally appropriate—and a fan-favorite. This charming movie teaches kids to never give up on their dreams, even if someone else says they’re too big.|
|Shalom Sesame: The Missing Menorah (NR) Sesame Street characters learn all about Hanukkah while working together to solve the mystery of Avigail’s missing menorah. You can find all of Sesame Street’s Shalom video series here.|
|Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (NR) Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat worry over finding the perfect gifts to give one another, but their persistence pays off in the end. Plus, this movie shares a sweet message about how the true value of any gift is the thoughtfulness behind it.|
|Trolls Holiday (PG) Poppy is determined to find a holiday for the Bergens to celebrate, but none of her ideas are well-received. As Poppy realizes that she was too set on her own ideas to listen to the Bergens, the Bergens realize that they were too hard on Poppy, who was only trying to help. In the end, the Trolls and Bergens create and celebrate a new holiday together.|
|KT and Me: A Kwanzaa Family Special (NR) Described as the first and only movie for kids about the Kwanzaa, this movie follows a young boy as he learns Kwanzaa’s meaning and the value of family from a fun animated friend named Kwanzaa Teddy. The film creatively highlights the practices, symbols, and principles of Kwanzaa.|
|Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (G) When Christmas is almost canceled because of a giant snowstorm, Santa and Rudolph work together to find a solution. This movie also teaches children that our differences make us special and are often our greatest gifts.|
|A Charlie Brown Christmas (NR) In this holiday classic, Charlie Brown is initially teased for choosing a small sapling as his Christmas tree. With a little loving care, friendship, and holiday spirit, the small sapling eventually becomes a magnificent tree.|
|Clifford’s Puppy Days: The Big, Big Present/Hanukkah Plunder Blunder (NR) Clifford and his friends learn about Hanukkah and Hanukkah traditions. When they accidentally break Mr. Solomon’s menorah, they learn a valuable lesson about honesty.|
|Elliot the Littlest Reindeer (PG) Despite being a miniature horse, Elliot has always dreamed of joining Santa’s reindeer team. When Blitzen suddenly retires, Elliot decides to compete in the North Pole tryouts against all odds.|
- Make holiday-themed growth mindset bookmarks. Cut paper into strips, then write growth mindset messages or positive affirmations. Have your children decorate them with holiday-themed illustrations, then laminate if you prefer. Punch a hole and string ribbon through it, and you have your very own holiday bookmarks with positive messages.
- Create a growth mindset countdown calendar. Open a new growth mindset message or growth mindset challenge each day as you count down to your holiday celebration. You can include the messages/challenges in numbered envelopes, or you can DIY an advent calendar.
- Share growth mindset lessons. Ask each family member to share one hard thing you achieved this year, one valuable lesson you learned from a mistake, and one way you practiced a growth mindset. Complete this activity while enjoying a favorite holiday tradition together.
- Play the flexible thinking game “What’s this?” with everyday objects—or your holiday gifts. Imagine as many different uses as possible for each object/gift.
- Track Santa’s journey around the world while discussing the obstacles he overcomes to deliver gifts to children. What obstacles has your family overcome this year?
- Make growth mindset decorations or ornaments. Help your children make homemade ornaments or holiday decorations, then decorate with your favorite growth mindset statements and affirmations. Set the tone for a festive and positive holiday celebration.
- Host a game night in holiday-themed PJs or sweaters. Play perseverance-boosting logic games like Quadrillion, Kanoodle, Logic Dots, SET Junior, and Gravity Maze.
- Make a growth mindset promise for the new year: “My brain will grow stronger when I ______________.” Post each family member’s promise somewhere you will see them every day