- Category: Family Event Activities
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Movies create a sense of community. The experience of watching a movie at the same time allows us to share with others emotions such as laughter, joy, sadness, and a sense of victory when the underdog overcomes. The memories of those experiences provide a language that gets used throughout our lives together. In our everyday conversations, how many times do we repeat lines from movies or do we recall a scene? Movies also provide excellent opportunities to talk about relevant issues and topics that we might not otherwise discuss.
Here are some places on the internet that help parents find great family movies Family Resources: Find Great Family Movies
The "Family Movie Night" event can be done with just your own family. However, it is recommended that these events be used in a larger context to connect with other families. We have listed some of the movies that we have shared with other families along with the things we did to create a memorable encounter. We used each movie's theme to select decorations, games, activities and food. We will try to keep adding movies to this section so let us know if you want updates. We encourage you to take any movie that your family likes and get creative - just be sure to tell us about it. You can also use these themes for other events like birthday parties.
Common Ideas for Any Movie Night
Here is a list of generic ideas that can help with movie nights.
Kung Fu Panda themed Family Movie Night
This is a kick-butt kung fu movie with tons of fun. The major themes are: believe in yourself and never give up. It also teaches lessons in self-discipline which is a fundamental concept in martial arts. There is also an excellent element that teaches to respect those who older as they are wiser, which every mom and dad should appreciate given the flood of movies that encourage kids to disrespect adults. All of these themes along with the basis in Chinese culture provide excellent material for activities and discussion.
Oriental Lanterns: This only requires a stack of construction paper and some glue. Make a long hanging paper chain with a lantern about every 15 links. The chain is simply small strips of construction paper (approximately 1 inch by 5 inch) bent into a circle and glued at the ends so that they interlope with each other. To make a lantern take a whole sheet of construction paper and fold it in half long ways. Then starting at the creased side cut straight lines stopping about 1 inch from the other side. These cuts should be spaced about 1 inch apart. When finished cutting, gently unfold the paper and bend it in a circle the other way so the cuts all go up and down around the paper circle. Glue the two sides together lining up the crease and corners. Glue a strip of paper across the top of the lantern to form a handle that will be used to connect into the paper chain.
Chinese Written Characters: We were blessed to have a neighbor who was from China. He took a large sheet of paper for each of my children and wrote their name in an equivalent Chinese symbol. To do this yourself, simply do some internet searches or look for clip art of Chinese written characters and print them. Instead of doing name equivalents, print of symbols that represent some of the themes of the movie and write the English equivalent across the bottom of the sheet.
The food selection is obviously quite easy. We simply bought some egg rolls from the freezer aisle and made rice with a Chinese dish to go on top. If your budget allows, order from a local Chinese restaurant and even ask them for some ideas for activities. You should encourage everyone to try to use chopsticks. On the DVD there is a special feature that teaches how to eat with chopsticks.
Chopstick Olympics: Everybody will need a set of chopsticks. If you do not have any in your house, just drop by a local Chinese restaurant and ask for several takeout sets. As mentioned, the DVD contains instructions on how to use chopsticks. However, these activities do not require proper use of chopsticks and everyone can hold them in any way they like. There are three activities listed here that can be done as an "olympics" type activity or individually. For each of these activities, break into family groups having them sit in six foot wide circles on the floor around a bowl in the center. Place dried low mien noodles into the bowls. Other dried food items can be substituted and for more difficulty use rice or legumes.
- Timed Event: Taking turns one at a time, give each person 30 seconds to remove as many pieces from the bowl as possible. They cannot touch the side of the bowl while removing the pieces. Whoever removes the most pieces wins.
- Blindfolded Partner: This requires a second smaller empty bowl. Assign each person a partner who sits on the opposite side of the circle. Everyone takes a turn at being blindfolded. The partner's job is to instruct the blindfolded person to where the bowl is so they can successfully take a piece from the center bowl and move it into the small bowl. After the person is blindfolded, the person to their right gets to move the small bowl anywhere inside the circle. The people to the right and left of the speaking partner get to make as much noise as they want while the partner is trying to tell the blindfolded person where to go.
- Chopstick Chaos: Everybody is given a napkin to sit on the floor directly in front of them. Someone yells "go" then everyone starts trying to get pieces from the middle bowl at the same time within a set time period. Only chopsticks can be used and people can try to block others only with their chopsticks but by doing so they do not get any for themselves. Also, once a piece hits the floor outside the bowl, it cannot be touched again. At the end count only pieces that are fully on the napkin.
"Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting" Music Video: If you use the DVD, it contains a music video for this song which is a lot of fun to simply sing and play along with. If your group is more ambitious have each family bring a video camera and create an action script using the song as the background music. Give everyone 20 minutes to record about 3 minutes of video, then everyone comes back and watches each other's video. Turn off the sound on the videos and play a music CD of the song for the audio.
Fortune Cookie Charades: Pass out fortune cookies to everyone instructing them not to share their fortunes with anyone else. Each person then takes a turn using charades (no speaking ) to get someone to guess their fortune. This is harder than it sounds, so consider teaming up adults and children.
Tell about a time when you were challenged by someone else who was not nice. How did you react? Why do you think the other person did what they did? What do you wish you had done now that you can look back?
Share one of your biggest dreams about something you want to do or become. Why have you chosen this? What have you done to accomplish this dream? What obstacles have you faced or think you will face?
Relate to everyone an example of when you showed great discipline to accomplish something. This can be as simple as cleaning your room or something greater. How did it feel when you had finished? Did anyone else know about your goal or try to help you?
Ratatouille themed Family Movie Night
Anyone can achieve great things. We should rise above mediocrity and strive for excellence. Other minor themes exist around friendship such as not judging by the outside, sticking together, and admitting when you are wrong.
Kitchen: Set the viewing area up like a kitchen. Use pots and pans to serve the snacks. Get come paper toques (chef's hats) and hang them from the ceiling or pass them around to be worn. Another way to enhance the atmosphere is to have everyone come dressed with aprons.
Eiffel Tower: Using black regular party streamers cut four strips of about 10 feet each. Attach these strips to a single point in the ceiling and let them hang down to the floor. Use tape to attach the bottoms of these streamers to the floor creating a square shape. These strips are now the basic frame of the Eiffel Tower. All that needs to be done is to attach some cross braces to this frame using more streamers. Just be sure not to block anyone's view of the movie screen.
This is a less of a meal and more of a snack. Get several loaves of French bread or baguettes and cut them into small slices. Put out various cheeses cut into small cubes using toothpicks to server. If funds permit get several weird cheeses to let people try them in addition to the standard cheeses. Fresh fruit like grapes will make the menu complete. For drinks, you can get regular white grape juice and cranberry juice.
Kitchen Utensil Relay: You will need a kitchen utensil for each person such as serving spoons, ladle, spatulas, etc. You will also need one large mixing bowl and a bag of about 10 food items (i.e. small can, potato, spice container, banana, etc.) for each family. Have each family line up with the empty bowl at one end and the food bag at the other. The first team to move all their items from the bag into the mixing bowl wins. Only the utensils can be used to pass items - no hands. If an items drops then the person trying to pass it can pick it up and place it on his/her own utensil then try to pass it again. For families with extra members or too young children, take an item or tow from their bag and place into the bowl before starting.
Create a menu with odd items: You can use the same food items from the relay activity. Give each family a couple blank sheets of paper and some pencils along with their bag of food. The objective is that the family would work together to devise a full meal using only the ingredients included in the bag. Use the paper to create a menu for this meal. The meal should include appetizer, soup, main dish and dessert. Awards are given out for using all the items, creativity in naming the menu items, most appetizing items, etc.
Have you ever read about or known someone who surprised everyone to accomplish something great? Why was it surprising? What do you think people thought about the person before their accomplishment? Was that fair?
Share an idea or goal that you would like to accomplish that others might not think you could do. Why do you think others do not believe you could do it? Should others opinion stop you from trying?
Tell about a friend who believed in you when others did not. What did they believe in you about?
Check out the activity section for Kitchen Capers for some fun ideas to do in and around the kitchen as part of Ratatouille Night!
Meet the Robinsons themed Family Movie Night
The biggest theme is the importance of family with a strong emphasis on taking responsibility for your actions and your own future. It also encourages kids to keep learning and that reading and studying can help find solutions.
Space Age Vehicles: Have everyone show up in a futuristic ride using big old cardboard boxes or wagons. These can then be used to create a movie drive-in experience when watching the film. Go further by judging the vehicles on several categories and awarding certificates.
Futuristic Party Deco: Create a very bright and clean futuristic scene. Hang see-through balloons and white streamers. You can also make it high tech by wrapping items in aluminum foil and hanging them up. Use stainless steel serving bowls and utensils for snacks. A bubble blower would be really cool but also somewhat messy indoors.
This is a little tricky as there is no ethnic or food focus in the movie. A simple suggestion would be to do whatever snacks your audience would most enjoy but put a futuristic slant on items. For example if you had a bunch on mini hamburgers like from White Castle, you could call them microburgers.
Family Science Fair Project: Assemble a gallon sized zip-top bag for each family with identical items in each bag. Include items like pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, play clay, cotton balls, cotton swabs, toothpicks, tape, index cards, etc. Instruct each family that they have 20 minutes to construct a science fair project together. If you want to make it harder, either give them a theme that they must represent or a function that their project must perform. Judge on areas like creativity and if it actually works. Award certificates for these areas.
Describe what is meant by unconditional love and acceptance. Tell about a time when you witnessed this.
Tell about a time in your life when you did not take responsibility for something bad that you did. Why did you choose not to own what you did? Did you ever make it right?
Name a subject about something you would very much like to learn more about. Why does this subject interest you? What can you do to learn more about it?