Family Movie Night: Watch This. Do That.
Movie night is sure to be a hit with the whole family. You can take it to the next level by adding these activities that are both fun and educational. Here are some family-friendly movies with ideas for activities, snacks, crafts, outings and books to continue the fun. All of these movies are rated G or PG, but please use discretion and choose movies that you feel are appropriate for your family.
Watch this: Cars
Famous racecar, Lightning McQueen, gets lost on his way to the big race and ends up in the small town of Radiator Springs. His first instinct is to get out of town as soon as possible but the longer he stays, the less he wants to leave. This movie has a great message about friendship and slowing down and appreciating what is important in life. (Rated G)
- Do that: Set up your very own carwash. This can be a water table with dish soap and sponges for the kids to wash their matchbox cars, a drive through car wash for bikes and trikes on the driveway, or get the kids involved and wash the family vehicles.
- Snack on this: Your race car drivers will want to enjoy some “Cars” themed snacks. Make stoplights using graham crackers. Spread frosting on the cracker and add a red, yellow and green chocolate covered candy to make a traffic light. Other ideas could include “tires” (chocolate donuts) “tractor wheels” (Oreo cookies), or “Mack” and cheese.
- Go there: Check out the Caffeine and Octane car show, held the first Sunday of every month at Perimeter Mall, or the Atlanta International Auto Show, March 16-20, at the Georgia World Congress Center. For hands-on action, try go-karting at Andretti Indoor Karting in Marietta or Nitro Zone in Peachtree Corners.
- Create that: Create your own race car using a toilet paper tube. Cover the tube in construction paper then add construction paper wheels, stickers or decorate any way you would like.
Watch this: Charlotte’s Web
After learning her friend, Wilbur the pig’s days are numbered, Charlotte the spider comes up with a plan to save him. This movie is based on the 1952 book “Charlotte’s Web” by EB White and is a tale of unlikely friends and is a classic adults and kids will both enjoy. (Rated G)
- Do that: What words would you use to describe yourself? What about your other family members? Use a paper plate and attach eight legs (use construction paper) to create a spider. Write your name on the “body” of the spider (paper plate) and write one descriptive word on each spider leg.
- Snack on this: For a “Charlotte’s Web” themed snack, serve “farm fresh” foods such as watermelon, corn on the cob or apple pie.
- Create that: Make a spider web craft. Cut the center out of a paper plate. Use a hole punch to cut holes around the remaining edge of the plate. Cut a piece of yarn and tie a knot at the end. Have the kids weave the yarn through random holes on the plate to make a spider web. To make it easier to weave, wrap a small piece of tape on the tip of the yarn.
- Go there: Take a trip to Zoo Atlanta, where you can visit and learn about pigs and spiders, as well as hundreds of animal species from around the world. Take the safari drive-through at North Georgia Wildlife Park, and get close-up and personal with miniature farm animals in the petting area.
Watch this: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
When hard times hit Swallow Falls, its townspeople are stuck eating sardines for every meal. Local inventor, Flint Lockwood, develops a machine and becomes a local hero when tasty meals start raining from the sky. But things get out of control, and Flint and his friends have to save the town. This movie will make you hungry while imagining what food you would like to see fall from the sky. (Rated PG)
- Do that: Have the kids draw a picture of their own crazy weather report. What food will fall from the sky next? Take turns pretending to be the newscaster and giving their crazy weather report.
- Snack on this: Make a batch of spaghetti and meatballs to enjoy before the movie. While you eat, discuss what food you would like best if it fell from the sky and what food you would least like to see.
- Create that: Make a play dough thunderstorm. For this activity you will need gray, blue and white play dough and yellow pipe cleaners. Use the gray play dough to make rain clouds, the blue to make rain drops, and the white to make hail. You can use the yellow pipe cleaners to add lightning bolts. Let your child get creative and make their own thunderstorm.
- Go there: The people of Swallow Falls are stuck eating only sardines. Learn about real sardines (and lots of other aquatic animals) at the Georgia Aquarium. In the movie, it snows ice cream. Head to your favorite local ice cream shop and imagine what it would be like if it snowed ice cream. What is your favorite flavor?
Watch this: Madagascar
Alex the lion is the most popular animal attraction at New York City’s zoo. Alex and his friends, Claudia, Melman and Marty, end up on Madagascar where they are no longer served daily meals. Alex’s carnivore instincts make his friends seem appetizing, and he must learn to manage his instincts on this island full of eccentric lemurs. This movie is for kids but humorous for adults as well. (Rated PG)
- Do that: Have a dance party. The characters in the movie love to dance so why not get your place some music and “Move it! Move it” in the living room.
- Snack on this: Since the four friends land on a tropical island, try serving fresh fruits such as pineapple, bananas and oranges. You could also purchase pre-packaged Melman inspired zebra cakes.
- Create that: Draw a circle on a yellow piece of construction paper. Add a lion face to the circle. Use a plastic fork dipped in orange paint to create a lion’s mane around the circle.
- Go there: Head to Pettit Creek Farms in Cartersville and see real-life zebras, giraffes, lemurs and more, or walk the trails at the Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary to see spider monkeys, lemurs and many more local and exotic residents.
Watch this: Mary Poppins
Jane and Michael, children of the wealthy and uptight Banks family, are assigned a new nanny. They are thrilled to see she is full of magical surprises. The movie follows their adventures with their nanny, Mary Poppins. The kids try to pass on some of the things they learn to their distracted parents. (Rated G)
- Do that: Chalk the walk. Use sidewalk chalk to create “Mary Poppins” inspired art.
- Snack on this: Just a spoonful of sugar cake pops. To make this fun snack, you will need a cake mix, buttercream frosting, candy melts, sugar and plastic spoons. Bake the cake as directed. Once it is cooled, break it up and mix in the buttercream frosting. Roll the mixture into small balls and freeze for 20 minutes. Melt candy coating according to package directions and carefully dip cake pops. Before the coating is dry, roll it in sugar. Place a dollop of candy coating on the plastic spoon and set cake pop on top. Place in the freezer until they are set.
- Create that: Make an umbrella craft. You will need a round coffee filter, washable markers and construction paper. Lay the coffee filter flat and have your child color with markers. Use a spray bottle set to mist to wet down the coffee filter and allow it to dry. Once dry, fold in half and attach a piece of construction paper in the shape of a handle. Hang in the window so the sun can shine through.
- Go there: Try foods the Banks family would eat with authentic English treats from Taste of Britain in Norcross, or enjoy a whimsical high tea at Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. If weather allows, get outside and fly a kite!
Watch this: Wall-E
Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Earth-class) is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying the planet one piece of garbage at a time. But after 700 years, he is very lonely. When a probe named EVE arrives, he falls in love and follows her across the galaxy. This movie is heartwarming and has a good message about taking care of our planet. (Rated G)
- Do that: Walk the neighborhood and clean up trash that you find in common areas. Discuss what items can be recycled and why it is important. Consider planting a tree, plant, flowers or taking care of a garden in your yard.
- Snack on this: For a healthy snack, try foods that come from the Earth. Choose fruits and veggies that your kids love and are more likely to enjoy.
- Create that: Make your own robot. Gather empty cereal boxes, paper towel or toilet paper rolls, and any other found items to design and build your own robot. What jobs would your robot do?
- Go there: Visit Fernbank Museum’s WildWoods and get a closer look at nature through its interactive exhibits and walking trails. Learn about conservation efforts at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, or help the earth by picking up trash at your local park or playground.
Can’t get enough of these movies?
Check out these stories for family fun at bedtime.
- Fans of “Cars” will enjoy reading “If I Built a Car” by Chris Van Dusen or “My Truck is Stuck” by Kevin Lewis. There are also several “Cars” themed books available for more stories.
- A read aloud of the classic book “Charlotte’s Web” by EB White is a must before watching the movie. If you would like to try some spider themed picture books, check out “Be Nice to Spiders” by Margaret Bloy Graham and “I’m Trying to Love Spiders” by Bethany Barton.
- “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi Barrett and the sequel “Pickles Over Pittsburgh” are obvious choices before or after enjoying the movie which is inspired by these books. For kid-friendly books about weather, check out “A Year in the Wind” by Hanna Konola or “Tap Tap Boom Boom” by Elizabeth Bluemle.
- “Julius: Fun Facts About Lions for Kids” by James Randall Miller is a book full of fun facts for kids interested in learning more about lions. For kids who are intrigued by zebras, check out “How the Zebra Got Its Stripes” by Ron Fontes.
- “Mary Poppins” the movie is based on a series of eight books by PL Travers. The first book in the series is titled “Mary Poppins.”
- For “Wall-E” fans, try these books for young kids: “What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet” by Jess French or “The Adventures of an Aluminum Can: A Story About Recycling” by Alison Inches. Try “In a Nutshell” by Joseph Anthony for a book about the importance of plants for our environment.