After watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a school counselor, it is alarming how much bullying is in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Talking to students about bullying using Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is powerful because it is popular media that they may have already seen before, but may not have identified as bullying behavior. The overall lesson from the movie is to be true to yourself and accepting others.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer begins with Rudolph's father, Donner, being uncomfortable with Rudolph's red, glowing nose. Santa is disappointed that Rudolph has a glowing nose and hopes that he "grows out of it" so that he can someday be part of Santa's sleigh team. Donner wants to hide the fact that Rudolph is different from Santa and the other Reindeer so he disguises Rudolph's nose. From birth Rudolph is told that he doesn't fit in and has to hide his true self.
Discussion Points: Rudolph's family is not accepting of him. How might Rudolph feel at this point in the movie? How might it feel to have your parent(s) not accept something about your true self?
Hermey the elf does not like to make toys and is therefore an outcast. His dreams of being a dentist are shut down by the other elves. If he wants to fit in, he must do something he does not enjoy. The elves ridicule him and make him feel bad about wanting to be a dentist.
Discussion Points: Being your true self. Career interests/abilities. How does Hermey feel in this scene? Hermey is not interested in being an elf and would like to be a dentist. How could Hermey's interests and abilities help him choose a career in the future? What is preventing him from choosing a career field of his interest/abilities? Name some careers that are non-traditional careers for males/females. How might it feel to enter into a career that is non-traditional for your gender?
When the reindeer are playing games, the other reindeer discover that Rudolph has a glowing nose. Rudolph is ostracized and called names by the other reindeer. Commet, his coach tells the other reindeer that Rudolph is not allowed to participate in any more reindeer games. Clarece is the only reindeer who is an ally to Rudolph and accepts him. Even the adults in the scene contribute to Rudolph being bullied.
Discussion Points: Forms of bullying including: Name calling, isolation, and exclusion. Also, Being an ally and finding a trusting adult. If you were one of the reindeer, how could you be an ally to Rudolph? What could you say to the other reindeer?
Rudolph decides to run away after an encounter with Clarece's father. He meets Hermey, who wants to be a dentist. The two sing a song about being misfits and not understanding why they don't fit in with the others.
Hermey and Rudolph embark on a journey together so they can be independent together. Along the way they meet Yukon Cornelius who befriends them and becomes a travel companion.
Discussion Points: Ramifications of bullying. Being an ally. How does it feel to be bullied? Someone may feel like they want to hurt themselves, kill themselves, or runaway from the situation. What should you do if you are feeling like killing yourself, hurting yourself, or running away? What adults can you identify at home or at school who are allies to students? How can a student be an ally to another student?
All of the toys on the Island of Misfit toys are homeless because no children would want them. Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius vow to tell Santa about the misfit toys so they can find homes.
Discussion Points: Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius are allies to the misfit toys. How are they allies to the misfit toys? Because of their kindess and thinking of others, they are able to help the toys find homes. Teaches students about doing something kind for others. Building social interest in students can help combat bullying.
When Rudolph returns the other reindeer still ridicule him, but he ignores them. Rudolph braves the storm to find his family and Clarece.
Suddenly, everything the main characters were bullied for turns out to be an asset. Utilizing their combined skills and talents, Hermey the Dentist, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Yukon Cornelius save everyone from the Abominable Snowman. Yukon Cornelius "reforms" the Abominable Snowman, who ends up helping the elves put the star on the tree (even "Bumbles" have redeeming qualities and skills!) When the weather turns treacherous and foggy, Rudolph becomes the star of the snow by saving Christmas with his red glowing nose!
Discussion Points: Accepting and Celebrating Differences. Being an ally. Everyone apologizes to Rudolph and Hermey, but the damage was already done. Although the movie ends on a happy note with the characters proving everyone wrong, real bullying situations do not always end that way. This is also great time to talk to students about how they could support someone who is bullied by standing up to the bully by telling them to stop, and telling an adult. Encourage students to inform a trusted and supportive adult.
I plan to show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to all of the sixth grade classes and use the discussion points I provided the week of Christmas break. Depending on the amount of time teachers are willing to have me in their classes, I am planning to either show the whole Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie or just scenes selected scenes that I highlighted. I wanted to get this idea today so others could plan this idea into their schedule before winter break if they want.
I ordered the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD on Amazon in preparation for my lesson. A Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer book could also be used to discuss bullying with students.
How will you utilize Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to teach a lesson about bullying? Are there any movies or media you use to teach students about bullying? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!
Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.