Here in Central Virginia, the heat and humidity are ever present. The Dog Days of Summer are upon us, and it is getting harder to motivate the kids to spend any time outdoors. Who can blame them?
Still, we have weeks of summer to go … which means we’re still combating the choruses of I’m bored before we gear up for back-to-school season.
Would you be surprised if I told you that watching a movie can be a great option? Ideally, it is a family activity so that you can talk about the film afterwards. But even if the kids watch it themselves, it is a great way to engage them with literacy concepts.
I’m not advocating all-day screen time, but hosting a movie event – as a family or with friends – is a great way to practice those communication, planning/organization, analytical, and comprehension skills.
With streaming and on-demand services, it is easy to find thousands of movies. Mix and match the ideas below, and you might just have a new tradition.
Low Key Family Night
Pick a movie for everyone to watch. You can pre-select the movie or invite everyone to suggest a movie and advocate why it should be the family’s choice.
Can’t get agreement? There’s always pulling a title out of a hat.
Communicating to persuade is a great skill! Be sure to have some post-movie questions ready to get some discussion going, too.
Make it Formal
Skip the red carpet and put the kids to work creating tickets, making posters, planning the snack menu, and (if appropriate) sending invitations.
This is great practice for organizing, planning, communication, and motor skills.
Movie Theme Night
This one falls between a low-key night at home and a formal event. Have fun planning an event that goes with the theme of a movie your family already knows and loves.
- Plan an appropriate meal (or snack) for before the movie.
- Dress up as a favorite character.
Bonus: Have each person write a favorite line or two on a piece of paper and put them in a hat. Before the movie, pull them out and see if other family members can guess who said that.
Thinking about elements of the movie and how to “recreate” them in real life is not just fun, but great practice in abstract thinking. There’s plenty of cooperation to go into planning, too!
This is more of a festival, not easily done in one night. Each person in the family selects a movie they want to share with everyone. Before the movie starts, they explain why they picked it (i.e., what they love about it), and afterward answer questions the audience may have.
Giving kids leadership opportunities is great on so many levels. Explaining what they like engages analytical and communication skills; ditto answering questions.
Book or Movie Competition
There are LOTS of book-to-movie adaptations out there! Mostly middle grade and up, so younger kids would miss out on this one. Whether to read first or watch first is an age-old argument.
Whether you re-read the book and watch the movie (or vice versa) this is a fun way to explore the “translation” of a story from one medium to another.
You’re guaranteed to have some great conversations. Here are two sources with lists of books that have appeared on screen.
- Books that ⭐in Movies @ The Reading Tub
- Middle Grade and Young Adult Book to Screen Favorites by Abby Johnson @ Abby the Librarian
- 59 Great Movies Based on Children’s Books @ Youth Literature Reviews