Cars supposes a world in which cars have supplanted humans and have feelings, drive themselves and write their own history. Taking a page from the Michael J. Fox film, Doc Hollywood, Lightning McQueen is a rookie race car who is part of a three-way tie for the Piston Cup. On his way to the final race across the country, he finds himself in a small town on Route 66. Full of nostalgia, celebrity voices from Hollywood and the racing world and a lot of fun, Cars quickly became a sensation as the seventh full-length feature film from Pixar.
A youngster in the racing world, Lightning McQueen has a lot to learn about history and how to make friends. What to discuss with kids:
- What is a friend? At the beginning of the movie, when friends are visiting the cars before their race, Lightning realizes his only friends are his agent, whom he pays, and his driver, Mack. Lightning has been so focused on becoming a racer, he didn’t learn to make friends, and when he has the chance, Doc Hudson reminds him to do something for others before himself. Ask your kids to talk about what qualities make a good friend, and what can they do to be a good friend.
- Find a mentor. Lightning thinks he knows everything about racing, but as a rookie he still has a lot to learn. Doc tries to teach him, but it takes some time before the kid warms up to taking advice. A mentor can be anyone in your child’s life, an older cousin or a neighbor or an uncle or aunt relative. Tell your kids about your own mentors and ask them to seek out someone to help them learn something new.
- Embrace the simple life. Radiator Springs was a bustling town until the interstate shut down Route 66 and the town was forgotten. Its residents love their lives in Small Town, USA, because they all know each other and slow down the fast-pace life. Whether it’s on your street, your neighborhood or in your town, what are your favorite things about your neighbors and your hometown?
Now that you’ve seen Cars, try these screen-free activities inspired by the movie.
- Make cardboard cars. The mom behind Rainy Day Mum has a great roundup of cardboard Cars creations, from turning Amazon boxes into your child’s favorite race car to toilet paper tube cars. (For a bonus win, keep the cars made out of boxes for seats the next time your kids watch the movie! Even more points if you cut the bottoms out and create a race track for the kids to run on as cars.)
- Popsicle puppets. Let your kids recreate the movie their way with 2D puppets made of popsicle sticks. (Substitute googly eyes if your littles are new to scissors.)
- Download free coloring pages. Disney.com is loaded with online fun for kids, and parents can download free coloring pages of their child’s favorite characters – including Cars.
- Learn about Route 66. This is great for older kids who have seen the movie a few times. Have them learn and tell you something new about Route 66, which starts in Chicago and runs through California.
- Drawing with cars. OK, who has a million Matchbox cars at home? Or even a couple that came in Happy Meal boxes? Tape a marker to the back and your child can zoom the car around a piece of paper (the bigger the paper the better) to make their own mural.
- DIY racing. The best part of car races is the racing. Enjoy the outdoors with this one. Make two cars out of Solo cups, then attach them through the bottom to a string and race them by shooting water guns or a hose into the cup.