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The One and Only Ivan Life Lessons & Printable Activities

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Disney’s The One and Only Ivan is an adorable, family-friendly movie about the power of visualization, the beauty of friendship, and what happens when you have the courage to do the right thing. Learn all about gorillas and what you can do to help protect them with The One and Only Ivan Activity packet.

Ivan the Silverback Gorilla

What is The One and Only Ivan About?

Disney’s One and Only Ivan is an adaptation of the award-winning book about one very special gorilla. Ivan is a 400-pound silverback gorilla who shares a communal habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant, Bob the dog, and various other animals.

He has few memories of the jungle where he was captured, but when a baby elephant named Ruby arrives, it touches something deep within him. Ruby is recently separated from her family in the wild, which causes him to question his life, where he comes from and where he ultimately wants to be.

The heartwarming adventure is based on Katherine Applegate’s bestselling book, which won numerous awards upon its publication in 2013, including the Newbery Medal.

What I love best about the movie is that the story is from Ivan’s point of view. I also like that it is an original movie and not a remake. This movie is somewhat similar to Disney’s Dumbo live-action movie but way less darker of a film. This movie has humor and many heartfelt moments. You will need tissues!

As a resident of Polk County Florida, I was super geeked that part of the film was film in my own backyard! The movie even featured my favorite place to watch movies, the Silver Moon Drive-in.

The One and Only Ivan Life Lessons

Visualize Your Future

Do you have dreams and goals? Do you write them down? In this movie we meet, Julia, a young budding artist. Her dad works with the show so she hangs out by Ivan’s cage and shows him her drawings.

Like us all, Julia has some problems. One of them being that her mom is sick. Julia uses her art to visualize what life would be like if her mom was not sick. Once Ivan gets his hands on some art materials, he “shows” the world what he visualizes for his future.

Ivan looking through blue painted glass

How to Make This Lesson Real for Kids: Have your kids draw a picture or write a story about something they want to change. Have them brainstorm ideas, either close to the family issues or big life issues like protecting the environment.

Make Friends

Ivan is the star of the show and he knows it. I mean his name is on the billboard. When someone new comes along and has the possibility of bumping him from his top spot he still decides to make a friend.

Many friendships are featured in the movie. I think my favorites are the friendships that Ivan has with Julia and Ruby. Both friendships are about truly helping someone live their best life.

The hardest friendship is the friendship between Ivan and Mack. Mack raised Ivan from a baby and Ivan loved him. Mack loved Ivan too. Sadly, Mack didn’t see life through Ivan’s eyes. Mack saw Ivan as a pet. Sometimes loving someone means letting them go.

How to Make This Lesson Real for Kids: Have your kids do something nice for a friend or for their pet. Maybe they can make a friendship bracelet or make a nice card wishing their friend a nice day.

Do The Right Thing Always

In this movie, doing the right thing is more for the adults than the children. Many times children don’t have a problem doing the right thing, When Julia discovers that Ivan would rather be free than continue to live his life in a mall circus show, she asks her dad for help and at first he reminds her that the circus is his job. She reminded him that he taught her to always do the right thing and he agrees.

As adults, jobs, money, and relationships can skew our decision to do the right thing. Children can be a voice of reason. Remember children watch us and our actions speak much louder than our words.

How to Make This Lesson Real for Kids: In this movie a child helped change something big. Ask your child what big issue they would like to change. Maybe racism, the environment, or something else. Then together come up with a list of small, actionable things they can do to make a big change happen.

Disney has helped us make this lesson real with their free printable activity packet.

Click here to download and print Disney’s The One and Only Ivan Activity packet.

Images of the printable Ivan activity pages

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