Unraveling the Mystery of the Unspoken:

Life Lessons from WALL-E

Background and Philosophy

The idea for this lesson came from a daily necessity- give my 3 year old with delayed speech an opportunity to decompress after his busy daily routine while I try to get dinner ready for my family.  We typically would put on an animated Disney movie to keep him entertained.  The 2008 Disney Pixar movie, WALL-E, seemed to have an immediate calming effect on him, hence we watched A LOT of WALL-E.  I started to really pay attention to the film over my many viewing opportunities and realized the story was being told through very little dialog.  Was this WHY my son could decompress so well with WALL-E?  Upon further viewing, I noticed how much emotion was actually being conveyed throughout the movie and started to identify some universal "Life Lessons" we could all learn from WALL-E.  The clever story tellers at Pixar had made this animation experience one that appealed to all ages and while not every age group would "see" the lessons I saw, everyone can learn something from WALL-E.

My philosophy is simply this: 

Developing a more critical interpretation of nonverbal communication as media creators and consumers will help students make better decisions about what is important, how meaning is structured, about the stories we tell with the messages we create and consume, and about how communication with and understanding of others can be improved.

Please watch my video presentation about this project and check out the lesson materials.



Adler, B. L. (2006). Discovering differences in the nature of verbal and visual messages. Communication Teacher, 20(2), 33-35. https://doi.org/10.1080/14704620600595610


Hagen, S. (2012). The mind's eye. Rochester Review, 74(4). Retrieved from http://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V74N4/0402_brainscience.html 

Hobbs, R. (2017). Create to learn. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell

Mills, K. A. & Unsworth, L. (2017). iPad animations: Powerful multimodal practices for adolescent literacy and emotional language. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 61(6), 609-620. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaal.717

Pierotti, F. (2016)/ Emotional screen: Color and moving images in digital media. In S. Tettegah & S. Noble (Eds.), Emotions, Technology, and Design (3-18). San Diego, CA: Academic Press

Stanton, A. (Director).(2008). WALL-E  [Motion Picture]. United States: Pixar Animation Studios

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