By Gen Terblanche17 July 2023
What to do with a crocodile like Lyle
Adorable, family-friendly movie Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile introduces the ultimate best friend for city-dwelling kids – a polite crocodile.
When The Primm family move to New York City, their new home is an old building that magician Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem) lost years back in a financial deal. Before skipping town, Hector left some of his things behind in the attic, including a singing, dancing crocodile named Lyle (voiced by Shawn Mendes). Without Hector, Lyle has had to find ways to fend for himself in the big city, but it has been a lonely life until he and 12-year-old Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley) become best friends. Soon the Primms are having loads of noisy fun, and the only person who’s cross about it is their downstairs neighbour, Alistair Grumps (Brett Gelman).
The moment baby Lyle turns around and looks at Hector with huge, glossy eyes, your kids will be clamouring for a croc. And why not? He takes regular baths and never forgets to wash behind his ears because he doesn’t have any. He’s helpful around the house, he loves to share, and he has 66 beautiful teeth, but he doesn’t eat people with them. Heavens, no! Lyle prefers caviar, Italian sorbets, and gourmet trash from the dumpsters of New York’s finest restaurants. Best of all, Lyle knows how to have fun.
Here are the five most fun things that you could do with a crocodile best friend – or someone who’s dressed as a crocodile.
1. Make up a song and dance
First, pick a song that the crocodile likes or it’s just going to mope. Learn the lyrics together and as you’re learning, see how the music moves you. Crocodiles have little legs and arms, long, flexible bodies and tails that like to swish from side to side, while humans have little bodies and long legs and arms, so see how you can make those work together. When you’ve gotten to grips with the song, break your dance ideas down into little sections of movement that are simple for crocodiles to learn. Some crocodiles are shy so the goal here isn’t to be famous, it’s to enjoy yourself.
You and your crocodile friend can have so much fun leaping around an outdoor play space. Warm up first by running around, waving your arms and yelling, then practise your rolls. Both humans and crocodiles can tuck their arms and legs at their sides and roll like a log. Pick things to jump over and under, first using both hands to help you over, then one hand (this is vaulting), and see if you can do it with no hands. Your crocodile friend might prefer scuttling under to leaping over. Next, swing from things like sturdy branches and rails. Then you and the crocodile can plot out challenging ways of getting around a space by running, rolling, leaping, vaulting, scuttling and swinging.
3. Draw each other
Humans and crocodiles are equally silly looking and fun to draw. Cover a flat surface with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to protect it, bring out your paper and art supplies, and take turns posing for each other. One of you can try to sit still for 10 minutes while the other one draws. Time it with your phone because it’s tiring to pretend to be a statue. You can draw both of you as humans, both of you as crocodiles, or one of each. To turn a human into a crocodile, keep the pose but make the body long and green, give it a long snout with loads of teeth, and put the eyes near the top of the head. Then draw the arms and legs short and give them starfish hands and little chunky feet, like a baby.
PS: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is based on Bernard Waber children’s book series (1962-2022) of the same name. The pictures of Lyle that Josh’s mom Katie (Contsance Wu) draws in the film are based on the artwork in the original books.
Get wild in the kitchen
For this project, you will need one person who can cook, and one crocodile. You’re going to make something where you can get inventive, like a cake, soup, sandwiches, stew or salad. The cook will know which parts of the recipe are important. Since crocodiles are adventurous, they can suggest different flavours, colours, and additional ingredients that they want in the dish. You and your crocodile friend can have fun preparing everything that needs to go into your creation first, and putting all these bits and pieces into little dishes. And at the end, the crocodile’s imagination and love of colours and patterns will help you to decorate an extra special creation.
Learn about nature
If you have a crocodile to care for and cuddle, it’s important to learn everything you can about them. Did you know that crocodiles like Lyle can swim at up to 29km/h? The fastest human swimmer can only reach around 10km/h! But they don’t like the water to be too cold because they can’t heat up or cool down their own bodies the way humans can (which is why Lyle loves a hot bath and always wears a scarf). They also have fascinating digestive systems and swallow rocks, which they keep in their stomachs to grind up their food like a kitchen blender. There are so many things to learn about crocodiles and other animals.
Even if you don’t have a library near you, you can borrow books for free online (including the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile books) from the Open Library, and look for nature edutainment on Showmax like Wild Kratts, The Zoo, Critters TV, and Bad Nature, along with documentaries like Africa’s Wild Horizons, Wild Orphan Rescue, and Lion: The Rise and Fall of the Marsh Pride.
And if your kids ask what the difference is between an alligator and a crocodile, just tell them to say goodbye to it. An alligator will always see you later, while a crocodile will see you in a while. Simple!
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