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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Family Movie Night

By Sarah Lyons

Take a cozy winter family movie night to the next level by tacking on these fun and educational activities. Here are some family friendly movies with ideas for snacks, crafts, outings, and books to continue the fun. All of these movies are rated G or PG but please use your discretion and choose movies that you feel are appropriate for your family.

Watch this: Wonder

Auggie Pullman was born with facial differences that have kept him from attending school, until now. He quickly shows everyone that what you look like is not as important as what is inside. Auggie is a boy with a lot of heart and will have everyone rooting for him as he faces making friends for the first time. This movie is heartwarming and is a great gateway for difficult conversations about bullying and accepting others who appear different from us. (Rated PG)

Do that: Talk to your kids about bullying. What qualifies as bully behavior? How do you handle it? How can you help a person who is a victim of bullying?

Create that: Make encouraging cards to send to friends who could use a boost and mail or hand deliver your cards.

Go there: Declare a “Random Acts of Kindness Day” and spread cheer and good vibes in your community. Try paying for the person behind you in the drive-through line, doing yard work for a neighbor, or passing out gift cards to community workers. 

Read this: The movie is based on the book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. For additional reading about bullying try Real Friends by Shannon Hale or I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët.

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 on the driveway, or get the kids involved and wash the family vehicles. 

Snack on this: 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: Take the family go-kart racing, attend a local “touch-a-truck event”, or go to a classic car show. 

Create that: Create your own race car using a toilet paper tube. Cover the tube in construction paper then add construction paper wheels and stickers.

Read this: Fans of Cars will enjoy reading If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen or My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis.

Watch this: Charlotte’s Web

After Charlotte learns that Wilbur’s days are numbered, she comes up with a plan to save the pig. This movie is based on the classic 1952 book Charlotte’s Web by EB White and is a sweet tale of unlikely friends. (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 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 a local petting zoo or farm where you can see real animals. Maybe you will even find a spider hiding somewhere.

Read this: A read aloud of Charlotte’s Web 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 Maragret Bloy Graham and I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton.

Watch this: Madagascar

Alex the lion is the most popular animal attraction at New York City’s Central Park Zoo. Alex and his friends, Claudia, Melman, and Marty, end up on the remote island of Madagascar where they are no longer served daily meals. Alex’s carnivore instincts make his friends, 

a giraffe, a hippo, and a zebra, seem appetizing. He must learn to manage his instincts while confronted with an island full of eccentric lemurs. This movie is silly and fun for kids while still being humorous for adults as well. (Rated PG)

Do that: Have a dance party. The characters in the movie love to dance so why not play some music and shake 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. 

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: After watching the movie, head to zoo to see some real life hippos, zebras, lions, and giraffes.

Read this: 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.

Watch this: Wall-E

Wall-E 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 heart-warming 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, flowers, or vegetables in your yard. 

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 the local arboretum or garden and spend time in nature. 

Read this: For books for young kids try 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 al book about the importance of plants for our environment. 

Watch this: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

When hard times hit the town of Swallow Falls, its townspeople are stuck eating sardines for every meal. Local inventor, Flint Lockwood, develops a machine that can turn water into food and becomes the 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 before it’s too late. This movie is funny and a joy to watch. It 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.

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 playdough thunderstorm with gray, blue, and white playdough and yellow pipe cleaners. Use the gray playdough 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: In the movie it snows ice cream. Take the family out for ice cream and imagine what it would be like if it snowed ice cream. What is your favorite flavor?

Read this: 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 Bluemie. 

Sarah Lyons is a mom of six kids, including triplets. She loves to read, cook, and watch movies with her kids.