Movies show us new perspectives, connect us to our own experiences, and keep us entertained. In these trying times, movies can help kids connect to their own feelings and sometimes even distract from them, giving them a reason to laugh, cry, or wonder. Our Family Programs team has gathered links to some of our favorite short films that you can explore together at home. We’ve grouped films by theme—Creative Kids, Marvelous Mysteries, Sticky Situations—and shared questions for you to consider and discuss. Just follow the links to watch the films, then come back to this page and try a few follow-up activities. Share what you create using #MakingWithMoMA.
The Big Race. 2004. Directed by Phil Aupperle
Recommended for kids ages five and up
Total running time: 38 min.
Learn about creative kids from around the world. As you watch, think about what inspires each of the kids, what they are trying to make and the materials they use. Who knows? Maybe one of their ideas will inspire you! Please share what you create using #MakingWithMoMA.
The Music Box. 2010. USA. Directed by Jennifer Oxley and Nicholas Oxley
In a New York City apartment, a little girl is trying to open an antique wooden box. Unfortunately the box is stuck...but the little girl has an idea. 3 min.
The little girl created a series of chain reactions using ordinary objects. What objects did she use? How did her chain reaction end?
Caine’s Arcade. 2012. USA. Directed by Nirvan Mullick
Meet Caine Monroy, a nine-year-old boy from East LA who spent his entire summer vacation constructing a cardboard arcade at his dad’s auto parts store. He re-created his favorite arcade games, made prizes, and even designed his own security system! When Caine told his friends about his arcade they didn’t believe him, but one day Caine was visited by a group of people who recognized just how talented he was. 9 min.
What is an arcade? What are some details that Caine included in his arcade to make it seem like a real arcade? What were you most impressed by? Which game would you most want to play?
The Big Race. 2004. USA/Madagascar. Directed by Phil Aupperle
Tulch and Noel, best friends with a day off from school, successfully illustrate that you don’t need fancy toys or the latest technology to have some fun on a beautiful summer afternoon. Maybe all you need is a tin can and a little imagination. 6 min.
What did you notice about how the kids made the cars? What materials and tools did they use? What was similar to and different from the way you make things? What do you think was more important to the kids, creating the cars or racing them? Why?
Benny and Jack’s Flying Machine. 2012. Great Britain. Directed by Krysten Resnick
Jack is a seven-year-old boy who spends most of his time playing with his best friend Benny, a ragged stuffed teddy bear. On this morning, Jack decides that today will not be like any other day. Today will be the day he will fly. 8 min.
What did Jack create? Who is Benny? What was the last thing Jack needed to do to make his invention work?
What Makes Me Happy: Junjie’s Film. 2005. China. Directed by Linfeng Xue
Junjie Lu, the son of a repairman in Hefei City, China, searches the streets for recyclable products—a vest, two plastic bottles, a piece of polystyrene. What use could these be to an eight-year-old boy? With ingenuity and a strategic plan, he achieves everything he sets out for. 12 min.
What was Junjie doing? What did he build? Who helped him? Have you made something using recycled materials you collect?
Borrowed Light. 2013. Directed by Olivia Huynh
Recommended for a kids ages six and up
Total running time: 20 min.
Looking for movies with a bit of mystery? Watch these three imaginative short films that will have your family puzzling over what happened. Afterward, craft your own mystery story! Consider who the main characters are, where your story takes place, and what strange or unusual things might be going on. Please share your story using #MakingWithMoMA.
Borrowed Light. 2013. USA. Directed by Olivia Huynh
In this dialogue-free short, a boy in an abandoned observatory tries to show the city something incredible. 4 min.
What was the boy doing? Why did he want the town to be in darkness? What did he want people to see?
The New Species. 2013. Czech Republic. Directed by Katerina Karhankova
Three friends discover a mysterious bone. With their imaginations running wild, they set out to discover the creature it belonged to. The kids have different ideas about what the bone could’ve come from. 6 min.
Did you have any similar ideas? What was your guess? The kids reburied the bone and never solved the mystery. What discovery did they miss? What would you have done?
Shipwrecked. 2006. Canada. Directed by Devon Bolton
A lonely 10-year-old boy discovers a magnificent miniature shipwreck on a cold, isolated beach and is shocked to find dozens of tiny footprints leading away from the historic sailing vessel—evidence of a curious disembarking. The boy follows the prints, uncovering and examining tiny artifacts left behind by the crew, and clue by clue he pieces together the most amazing stories. 10 min.
What did the boy discover? What do you think might have happened to the boat? Talk with your family about what happened at the end of the film. What do you think was going on? Was it magic, the boy’s imagination, or something else? What did you see that gave you that idea?
Like an Elephant in a China Shop. 2017. Directed by Louise Chevrier, Luka Fischer, Rodolphe Groshens, Marie Guillon, Estelle Martinez, Benoit Paillard, and Lisa Rasasombat
Recommended for kids ages four and up
Total running time: 26 min.
Have you ever needed a little help to get out of a sticky situation? In each of these short films the characters have some kind of problem and need help to find a solution. After you watch, draw a picture that shows a time when you had a problem, and how you solved it. Write a caption sharing what is happening in the picture. Please share your drawing using #MakingWithMoMA.
Like an Elephant in a China Shop. 2017. France. Directed by Louise Chevrier, Luka Fischer, Rodolphe Groshens, Marie Guillon, Estelle Martinez, Benoit Paillard, and Lisa Rasasombat
In this dialogue-free film, a passionate porcelain seller has to deal with a little problem threatening his china shop. 6 min.
What was the shopkeeper worried about? How do you think the elephant felt? How did the man and elephant calm down? What do you think happened in the end?
The Happy Duckling. 2008. Great Britain. Directed by Gili Dolev
In this whimsical pop-up book world, a boy finds himself pursued by a duck. This unlikely pair of friends is about to discover that sometimes you have to be cruel in order to be kind. 9 min.
What did the duck want? Why did the boy keep running away? What did he know that the duck did not? How did the boy and the duck help each other?
The Moustache. 2015. Finland. Directed by Anni Oja
This town is not big enough for the two of them...or their mustaches. No dialogue; 4 min.
What was the sticky situation in this film? How did it get resolved? Can you imagine a different way the conflict could have ended?
Dinner for Two. 1997. Canada. Directed by Janet Perlman
Peace in the rainforest is disrupted when two chameleons get “stuck” in conflict, with catastrophic results. Luckily for the lizards, a frog sees the whole thing and turns into exactly what they need: a mediator. This film is part of the ShowPeace series of animated films without words. 7 min.
Compare Dinner for Two to The Moustache. How were they similar?How were they different? How did the chameleons get out of their sticky situation? What‘s one lesson you can learn from this story?
Thank you to Anne Morra for contributions to this story.