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Horton holds a dandelion in his trunk Horton Hears a Who!
  • Horton Hears a Who! Education Kit



    In Horton Hears a Who! we meet Horton, a kind-hearted elephant  who lives in the Jungle of Nool. Always open to the world around him, Horton hears the tiny voices of the microscopic Whos and promises to look after them. This proves to be quite a challenge, but Horton and the Whos work together to make themselves heard.

    Horton Hears a Who! is based on the picture book classic written by Dr Seuss and published in 1954.

    Before Coming to ACMI: Ideas for introducing the film


    • Ask students for a single word response to the story. 
    • Make a list of adjectives that describe Horton.
    • Make a list of adjectives that describe the Whos.
    • What do students think of The Wickersham Brothers, Vlad Vlad-i-koff and the Sour Kangaroo?


    • What are some of the unexpected things that happen to Horton?
    • How does he respond?

    Stories involve a beginning where we are introduced to important elements of the story.

    • Describe the beginning of Horton Hears a Who! What important things do we learn in the first few lines?
    • What is the message of this book? Explain.

    Without Horton, the Whos would be in serious trouble.

    • Is this a serious book? Explain with examples.


    • Ask students to bring in copies of Dr Seuss books they have at home or have found in the school or local library. Does he have a recognisable style? Are there elements that all of his books share? (Consider drawing style as well as rhythm, rhyme and nonsense words.)
    • Ask students to create their own Dr Seuss-inspired character. Describe the character in words and draw its picture.


    • Arm students with magnifying glasses and ask them to explore the world of the school from ‘up close’.
      • What do they discover that they haven’t seen or noticed before?
      • What familiar things look quite different from up close?
    • If you have a microscope in your school, use it to see parts of your world in even more minute detail (eg drop of water, leaf, dust). Ask students to describe what they see.
    • Use a telescope or binoculars to see things that are far away. Ask students to describe what they discover.

    After Watching the Film


    • Share single word responses to the film.
      • Do these match the words you chose to describe the book?
      • Why or why not? Explain.
    • Which aspects of the film stand out?
      • Think about the music, animation and use of colour.
      • Which images or moments are particularly memorable?
    • Ask students to share their favourite scene with the person next to them. Use the following prompts to get the discussion started:
      • How did the story make you feel?
      • Did it make you happy, laugh, angry, upset or sad? Why?
      • Give examples of moments in the film that made you feel that way.
    • In groups, discuss the main message of the film.
      • What is it?
      • Is there more than one message?
      • Is it the same as the message communicated in the book? Explain your answer.
    • What story elements are added to the film that are not in Dr. Seuss’s book?
      • What do they add to the story?
      • How effective are these added story elements? Explain.


    In Horton Hears a Who!, we see two different worlds: the world of the jungle and the world of the Whos.

    • Describe each of these different worlds focusing on colour, shape and detail.
    • Freeze-frame an image of Whoville and discuss what you see.
      • Focus on specific elements such as the use of colour, lighting, the setting and location, objects and furniture, the appearance and clothing of the characters, the way the characters relate to the setting.
      • How do the things you have noticed add to the story?

    Horton can hear the creatures of Whoville but cannot see them or their world. He is a creature of the jungle and has no idea, for instance, what a bathroom is.

    • Write a letter to Horton explaining what Whoville is like and explaining how it is different from the jungle.

    Animators talk about ‘shots’ as if an animated film has been filmed with a camera and, in fact, Horton Hears a Who! uses a lot of techniques we associate with live action such as close-ups, wideshots, different angles etc.

    • Explore some of the choices made and ask students to think about the effect of these choices.


    Working in pairs, write two character lists:

    • List the main characters we meet in the Jungle of Nool.
    • List the main characters in Whoville.
    • Choose a favourite character from each of these lists.
      • What is the role of these characters in the story? Describe them.
      • Why are they your favourite characters?
      • Who is your least favourite character? Why?

    Dr Seuss has created some wonderful nonsense characters and animals for his story.

    • How are these crazy creatures brought to life in the film?
    • Are they very different from the way they are described in the book?


    Living Responsibly

    "A person is a person, no matter how small."

    • Discuss this statement and explain what it means.
    • What do we learn about Horton from this statement?
    • How does Horton demonstrate his sense of responsibility towards others?
    • Have a group discussion about what students have done to care for something (environment, school community, suburb) or someone (friend, family) who needs their help. What did they do? How did they help?

    Kangaroo tells Horton ‘If you can’t see, hear or feel something then it doesn’t exist’.

    • Do you think this is true?
    • Split up into groups and brainstorm all the things we know about even though we cannot see, hear or feel them. (Think about really small things, places you haven’t been to, things that are really far away and people you haven’t met.)

    Speaking out and speaking up

    • Why does it take courage and determination for Horton to speak up for the members of Whoville?
    • Why is it so hard for an individual to speak up and speak out?
    • Why doesn’t the kangaroo believe Horton about the existence of the microscopic inhabitants of Whoville? How does Horton try to convince the kangaroo? If you were Horton what would you say to convince the kangaroo?

    Respect and Tolerance

    • Brainstorm words that describe Horton’s response to the Whos. What does this tell us about him?
    • Brainstorm words that describe the response of the animals in the jungle to Horton’s discovery. What does this tell us about them?
    • How does the kangaroo behave? Why do the other animals do what she tells them to do?
    • What could the other creatures in the jungle do to help Horton? Why don’t they do this?
    • Ask students: What would you do to help Horton?

    Caring for the World

    • Choose two characters from the film and draw a Venn diagram to explore similarities and differences.

    Edu Venn Diagram Blank


    • Design a device that Horton can use to protect the Whos. Ask students to make their device out of recycled material.


    • As a class, make a map of the Jungle of Nool, the clover patch and other locations featured in Horton’s world. (You could use an interactive whiteboard or sheets of butchers’ paper.)
    • Ask each student to draw their own map of Whoville adding memorable features. Students can then compare their Whoville maps and discuss the decisions they made.


    Horton Hears a Who! encourages us to think more carefully about the world we live in and to take care of vulnerable creatures and places. Students can explore this idea by learning how to care for their own miniature gardens.

    Working in groups they can build terrariums out of recycled plastic bottles. Each group will need:

    • a large plastic drink bottle (2Lor 1.25L) with a lid
    • gravel
    • charcoal
    • potting mix
    • small house plants or seedlings (ask your local nursery for plant ideas)
    • a Stanley knife (to be used by a responsible adult)
    • tape
    • water

    NOTE: This activity is best run over a number of weeks to allow the seeds time to germinate and grow.

    Putting the Terrarium Together

    • Cut the top off the bottle and set aside. 
    • Place a 2 cm layer of gravel or pebbles on the bottom of the terrarium, followed by a thin layer of charcoal to help filter the terrarium water.
    • Next, add a 5 cm layer of soil. Plant the seeds, leaving space for them to grow.
    • Place the top back on and seal with sticking tape.
    • Poke a few vent holes into the bottles lid to allow air flow.

    Caring for your Miniature Garden

    • Water the soil when you first assemble the terrarium, place the lid on the terrarium and place it in a well-lit area, avoiding direct sunlight.
    • Only water the soil when it looks dry. Time between watering can be several weeks to over a month.
    • The mist you sometimes see is water vapour, and the water on the glass is condensation. As the plants grow they cover the soil, and less water evaporates.
    • Care should be taken handling potting mix.  Wear gloves and wash your hands when finished.

    Source: Water Corporation West Australia  

    Prepared for ACMI Education by Susan Bye with contributions from Jonathan Baird