by mamaschmama

Do you remember where you were when you first saw this?

I do.  I was sitting in a dark movie theater with my husband.  We sank a little lower in our seats, turned to each other, and whispered “Oh shit.”

My son has lots of Cars merchandise.  He wears a Tow Mater shirt.  He plays with Cars Legos.  We read all the Cars books.  We even have those stinkin’ Cars B-Side monster trucks.

You can make all the assumptions you want about our family if that’s your thing.  If you are not afflicted by toy tsunamis, grandparent spoiling, or child obsessions may I offer my congratulations.  Also, this post isn’t for you.

Planes arrives in theaters on August 9th but the merchandise is out now.  I went on a mission to find the toys before my son could see them.


A text I sent to my husband and his response.


Save money for my son’s college tuition or donate money to the college fund of the children of the Disney employees who plotted this toy blitz?

I’m attacking this a little differently than I did with Cars.  We’re using Planes to learn calendar, reading strategies, imagination, and work ethic.  I know…work ethic?


Planes comes out August 9th.  On our calendar, we have marked the date.  We talk about how it is July now and that August comes next.  We count how many weeks and days are left until the movie arrives.  Yes, I also hear “Is it August yet?” every day.

Reading Strategies

We bought the book before anything else.  We are making connections, visualizing, inferring, summarizing, and predicting as we read this book.  I’m really excited about the visualizing part.  My son will have read and reread this book before he ever sees the movie and I’m curious to see if he is surprised by the differences between what he imagined and the actual movie.


“Ripslinger reminds me of Chick Hicks because both of them want to win and they don’t care if they hurt anybody as long as they win.”  Text to text connection

“I bet it’s really loud when all those planes take off, I would plug my ears if I were there.”  Visualizing

“I think Rusty got his feelings hurt when the crowd jeered at him.” Inferring with a side of vocabulary acquisition

“First, Dusty practiced.  Next, he tried out for the race….”  Summarizing

“I think there’s going to be an infinite amount of transportation movies from Disney-Pixar”  Predicting


We have not bought any toys yet but my son really wants to play with planes.  For now he is using his Legos to make the characters from the story.  A little mama pride here- his dad helped him but the orange one, Dusty, he made by himself!

image-8Dusty Crophopper

Bull Dog, Ripslinger, El Chupacabra

Work Ethic

I’ve made a goal chart for him so he can earn his first Planes toy.  If you’ve done charts before, this is nothing new to you.  I put 4 behavior goals on the paper.  2 goals are things he really needs to work on, 2 goals are behaviors he tends to do a great job on.  If you don’t do goal charts, putting a few easily attained goals motivates a kid because they can see immediate success and it makes them want to try harder for the behaviors they need to work on.  I also drew pictures since he is learning to read.  All goals are stated in a positive way so he knows what to do rather than what not to do (that leaves too many choices).  Every time he does them, he gets a sticker.  Once there is a sticker for all of it, he’ll get a Planes toy.


I also let all the grandparents know that if they buy him a Planes toy before this chart is completed, they will be grounded from grandkid visitations.

In Cars, the main character is already successful but conceited.  His ego gets bruised and he learns that making meaningful connections with people are more important than winning.  In Planes, the main character is an underdog with fears but with a big goal.  He practices hard to reach his goal and with kindness and luck, he reaches it.

In reality, my son is way too young to get the plot line to the Cars movie.  He saw that Lightning McQueen was a winner and a CAR and that was all that mattered.  I like how we can grab on to the more simple ideas of PRACTICE and KINDNESS and TEAMWORK in the Planes movie.

All this stuff is working so far.  I have never been this structured in approaching a movie before but then again, my son has never been old enough for any of this.  I like taking a “calm down and don’t make such a big deal about it” attitude normally but I am truly sick of the merchandise onslaught that these movies create.

I would love to know if you ever do anything like this for your children or even if you get twitchy every time a kids movie is released.

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