Her family: Padilla is married and is a fulltime mom to her two children, Mackenzie (3) and Kyle (1) Her home: Philadelphia suburbs Her passion: She is the founder and editor of ClassyMommy.com, where she reviews products for moms. Fun fact: She recently went to L.A. to preview Gnomeo and Juliet for Touchstone, which makes her a perfect person to talk about movie nights at her house!
Just the words "family movie night" stir up all kinds of good feelings. Including the kids in the fun of a movie does wonders for everyone involved. It gives Mom and Dad a break from playing entertainer for a while and lets the kids experience the magic of storytelling. Movie time is an escape for everyone—especially when everyone has been housebound for days with sick kiddos or because of countless days of snow or ice. The challenge can be to make the movie night fun for everyone—including those preschoolers who are just building up longer attention spans for real "movies."
Here's how we do it at our house:
1. Previews galore We love showing our kids movie trailers before we take them to the theater or watch a movie at home. It really excites them for the movie and enables them to instantly relate to the characters at the start of the film. Search for the official trailers along with tons of additional scenes and clips online at YouTube. This preparation is more than worth it.
2. Popcorn, popcorn, and more popcorn Our kids love this special treat and can't get enough of it. We do it movie-style by serving it up in little red-and-white "Popcorn" containers. This only makes it even more fun to devour. A special treat like popcorn boosts the entire "family movie night" occasion up a notch in the kids' eyes.
3. Craft the movie theme My kids love continuing the conversation of the movie through both crafts and role-playing long after the movie is over. We try to find free printables online for the kids to color, cut, and glue. If that fails, we go for the traditional route of designing our own images with crayons on old-fashioned construction paper.
Having the crayons, construction paper, or online printable coloring sheets before the movie starts is a great plan if your littlest viewer doesn't quite have the attention span for the whole show. Pulling out the activity sheets midway through the movie when his or her attention starts to wander is an ideal way to keep the child quiet and still interested in the topic on hand while the rest of the family enjoys the rest of the movie with minimal interruptions.
4. Post-movie conversations When the TV is off, don't let the fun end. Talk it up. Here are some conversation starters:
5. Role-plays and toy time At our house, we love to use the movie as a platform to build our children's own imaginations. The fodder from films provides great content to launch imaginary games with toys or pretend role-playing. Plus, this lets the movie serve as an opportunity to learn and try new things long-term instead of just providing an 82-minute escape.
Our kids like to act out favorite scenes from the movie. But if acting or dressing up isn't your kids' favorite activity, they might love to use their plastic figurines, toy cars, stuffed animals, toy castle, or pirate ship to create a setup or scene similar to one from the movie.