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Brave - Movie Related Crafts, Activities and More

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Set in the rugged Scottish Highlands during medieval times, Brave offers a wealth of opportunities for learning and fun. Here is a list of activities, crafts, projects, experiments and more all related to the movie or the themes and settings of the movie. Have fun exploring the world of Scotland and the mythology of the film. (Some of the following activities require adult supervision.)

1. Will-o'-the-wisp Science Experiment (Adult Supervision Required)

Will-o'-the-wisp science experiment
Photo © Carey Bryson
The captivating blue wisps in Brave are based on a real phenomenon. Some scientists have explained the reported sightings of wisps as marsh gas, contaminated methane that bubbles up out of marshes and can spontaneously ignite. Create your own little blue flame for the kiddos with the following easy experiment:
  • Soak a pine cone in Heet Antifreeze (inexpensive at auto parts stores).
  • In a fire safe area (we used our grill), light the pine cone on fire. The methanol in Heet will produce a blue flame (ours died out on it's own after a few minutes).
  • Use gloves and goggles. Practice fire/chemistry safety.
Teach kids about chemistry, fire safety, how fireworks are made and more. Our kids were positively thrilled by the "wisp," and they wanted us to do the experiment over and over. If I had the talent to make one, I would have used a wood carving of a face instead of a pine cone, which would look even more mystical. Find out more about the colored fire pine cone and other colored fire experiments from our amazing chemistry guide.

2. Creative Writing -- Pen Your Own Will-'o-the-wisp Tale

Merida following a Wisp
Photo © Disney/Pixar
While science can explain marsh gas phenomena, the little blue lights are shrouded in folklore which varies throughout history in many different countries. In most stories, the mysterious blue lights are mischievous or devilish and lead travelers to dark and treacherous paths. In Brave, the wisps lead Merida to her destiny.

Now that your kids have been inspired by the cool blue flames from the science experiment, or even if you chose to forgo the burning of a pine cone, encourage them to come up with a tale of their own about the mysterious will-o'-the-wisp. And of course, have them illustrate the story as well. Talk with kids about the genres of fables, myths and folklore and what such stories have meant to us throughout history.

3. Learn About Scotland

Brave Movie Photo - Castle
Photo © Disney/Pixar. All rights reserved.
Since the movie is set in Scotland, Brave presents the perfect opportunity to teach kids about the country and the culture. Begin by helping kids find Scotland and the United Kingdom on the map. Check out online destinations for kids, like Kidsconnect.com, where kids can read all about Scotland. On ScotClans.com, you can learn about kilts, clans and see the Tartan plaid and crest for each family.

You can check out books about Scotland from the library that are written for kids. Also consider books containing Scottish stories and folk tales, or stories about the Loch Ness Monster.

4. Crafts and Activities: Scotland, Medieval times and Black Bears

Brave Bear Cubs
Photo © Disney/Pixar
  • Kids can create their own castle and act out stories with this cardboard castle craft. And of course, any kid with a castle also needs a jeweled crown to wear.

  • Get crafty with Scottish Tartan plaid by using plaid fabric to create items such as easy purses or pillows. A Scottish paper doll is also a great way to have fun with Scottish attire.

  • Since the movie has black bears, kids may be excited to learn more about bears and their habitats. If you have older kids who want to try out whittling, like the witch does in the movie, start out with a safer and easier bear soap carving.

  • Another awesome and educational project is to make a forest diorama. Here is an example of a forest diorama, and you could include characters from Brave (print from the Brave website), and maybe a bear or two.

5. Host Your Own Family Highland Games

Merida
Photo © Disney/Pixar
The Scottish Highland Games are a celebrated tradition rooted in Scottish history. Filmmakers attended the games while doing research for the film in Scotland (see Brave - Fun Facts), and some of what they saw ended up in the movie.

The Highland Games include many events. For our family games, we tried archery, the caber toss, and the rock put. We used a children's archery set and target. For the caber toss, of course we couldn't throw full size cabers (and we didn't wear kilts), but a baseball bat made for an interesting try. The key is to try to throw it so that the bat flips 180 degrees and lands as close as possible to the 12 o'clock position. The rock put is easy, just find a big stone and see who can throw it the farthest.

6. Concept Art Project

Photo © Disney/Pixar
Brave filmmakers took a research trip to Scotland and took thousands of photos. From those photos, artists developed concept art -- paintings and sketches for the movie inspired by the photos. Then, computer graphics artists translated the concept art into the 3D film images we see in the movie. Read more about the process and see an example of progression photos in this post on animating Scotland.

Help your kids create some concept art of their own by taking photos outdoors and turning them into drawings or paintings. You can get really low, to get a bug's perspective, or take a picture of branches high up in a tree for a bird nest setting. Encourage kids to draw or paint the setting and insert a character from their own imagination.

7. How About Some Haggis?

Brave Movie Photo
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Up for cooking the national dish of Scotland, haggis? No? Me either. But you can still experience a little Scottish cuisine that is easier to prepare and delicious to eat. Here are a couple of kid friendly Scottish recipes provided by Disney/Pixar for Great Granny May Scott's Cullen Skink and Scotch egg. Or, if those don't excite your families taste buds, check out some of these other favorite Scottish recipes.

8. Croon a Few Scottish Tunes

Bagpipes
Photo © Disney/Pixar
When we think of Scotland, we automatically think of bagpipes. Kids will have fun learning about this interesting instrument. You can go on line with kids and watch bagpipers, like this bagpipe champion and listen to bagpipe music.

In the movie, there is also a Gaelic lullaby. You can hear a Gaelic song called Buain na Rainich here, and find words, audio and general information about Gaelic lullabies on the awesome Education Scotland website.

Or, if you want to hear some Scottish folk music, check out these popular contemporary traditional Scottish musicians.

9. Dance a Scottish Jig

Brave - Dance Instructions
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Disney/Pixar provides instructions on how to do the Highland Scottische in this dance tutorial from one, or all, of the identical triplets Harris, Hubert and Hamish (pictured left). You can also check out all kinds of traditional Scottish dance on ScottishDanceTraditions.org. The website contains information, photos and videos of traditional Scottish dance styles including early Scottish dance, Highland dancing, and more. If you've got a little dancer at home, this is a really fun way to learn about this aspect of Scottish culture and introduce her to new dance styles.

10. Talk Like a Scot

Brave Movie Photo
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Disney/Pixar has provided this glossary of Scottish words and phrases to help us brush up on key phrases we need to know in order to avoid looking like a bunch of galoots. To learn more about the way people speak in Scotland, Scotland.com has a brief history and summary of the languages spoken in the country and how they have evolved. In otland, you might hear traditional Gaelic, Scots, or various English dialects. Scots includes several dialects, you can read more about Scots and listen to one dialect on the Scots Language website.
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