Family Movie Night

23 Nov

Sunday is in four days and already I’m planning for 6:00.

I know what the snack will be: popcorn and juice.  Except my son prefers dry cereal instead of popcorn.

I know we will spread out the big pink blanket on our den floor and the kids will pick “one pillow and one animal each” to pile up and pick their spot.

I know we will turn out all the lights and close the blinds and make it “like the real movies.”

What is always a surprise to everyone is:  What movie are we watching?!

That, my friends, takes some real research.

Family movie night is a great family activity for everyone to enjoy together.  It is also a great way to relax and not have to spend a lot of energy enjoying the activity together.  It can be more than that, too, though.  Watching a movie as a family can make memories if the movie selection is thoughtful.  Movie can also create discussion among the family members that promotes healthy lifestyles.

Here are some tips for creating your own family movie night:

Set the stage. Turn out the lights, set up a pallet on the floor, and grab some snacks that everyone will think is a treat. Make everyone comfortable and cozy before you even start.

Make it an event. If your family calendar looks anything like mine, it’s hard to find everyone in one place at the same time.  We do this every Sunday night, two hours before bedtime.  It is just the best time that works for us.  There is an occasional Sunday that we are not able to schedule it, but for the most part, we look forward to this time each week.  Because we know this is the scheduled time, our whole family has come to view this as a major highlight to our week.  It has become a regular family tradition.

Do a little research. Choose a movie that will appeal to everyone.  This is a very personal decision from one family to the next, as parenting styles differ as far as how much violence, emotional content, or crude language should be introduced to children and at what ages.  Certain websites are devoted to helping with these specifics, such as Focus on the Family’s  Plugged In or Parent Previews.   These reviews can keep from any “surprises” showing up in the movie.  Sometimes I can read a movie review and I can discern whether or not my own children could handle the specific content in that particular movie.

Discuss thematic elements.  Movies are great teaching tools.  They can convey stories which evoke sympathy, compassion, a sense of justice, and moral conviction.  They can teach about nature and preservation or about expanding upon the gifts God has given us.  Looking for teachable moments in movies is a great way to get family discussion going.  It is also a great way to identify and verbalize your own family’s values and the ways you may differ from others.

Look at the classics.  Sometimes we watch a current hit, but more often we watch a throwback from my own childhood or a classic movie from even before that.  It can sometimes be challenging to find: if our local library doesn’t have it for lending, sometimes Redbox, Apple TV or OnDemand on Cable will come through for me.

So what are some good movies to watch?

The website Teach with Movies is a great place to look around for age-specific or theme based ideas.

And, while each family is different, here are some of the favorites from our family, with children ages 4, 6, and 8:

  • E. T.
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • In Search of Bobby Fisher
  • Free Willy
  • The Indian in the Cupboard
  • Everyone’s Hero

Enjoy your family movie night, and discuss it all week long!  Post back here and let me know if you have good movies to share!

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