5 Movie Night Themes & Activities Your Kids Will Love

Last week we gave you five easy activities ideas to keep your kids entertained now that it’s summer and distance learning is over. Today, we want to revisit that list and expand on some of the ideas to give you more fun family activities for summer. 

If you missed the list, and want to catch up with the full countdown, click here

Items 2 & 3 on our list of Easy Activities to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer talked about how watching movies together (#2) and then doing a corresponding activity (#3) are great ways to not just entertain your kids, but bond with them too. Today, we’re going to explore how to make those activities educational too!

Below are 5 Movie Night themes and activities to do with your family.

Hotel Transylvania 3 – Racism & Empathy

Hotel Transylvania 3 features our favorite monster gang as they take their families on a getaway for a little R&R. The only problem is, their whole vacation is an elaborate plot by an evil human and his granddaughter, who hate all monsters for basically no reason. The cruise sails the group right into the Bermuda Triangle and the hands of a giant sea monster controlled by the insidious humans who want to destroy them all. The day is only saved when one of the indivuals exercising control and violence over the monsters, realizes the error of their ways. 

Talking Points:
The film’s villain is an egotistical, hypocritical human whose views on monsters echo of racism. His delusional persona is capped off by the fact that, despite his hatred for monsters, his quest to destroy them has inadvertently turned him into one. Lots to unpack there.
Sample Questions:
Do we know anyone like that in real life, who dislikes people for no reason?
Has anyone ever treated you badly for no reason?
How did it make us feel? How do we think this makes others feel?
Why do we think Vanhelsing wants to hurt the monsters? 

The Activity

Gather an assortment of random craft items you have around the house: pompoms, googley eyes, yarm, pipe cleaner, paint, markers, glue, pipe cleaners, dried pasta, beads, whatever you have! Use empty boxes or a paper bag as a body and have fun creating your own monsters inspired by the ones in the movie. The conversations around this movie are kinda heavy, so balance it with a fun activity that doesn’t require too much thinking on their part. The key is to facilitate a casual and open conversation, so a free flowing activity like building a monster is a great way to get conversation flowing. 


Spiderman into the Spiderverse – Believe in Yourself

This movie is so good. Like sooooo good. It features an Afro-Latinx main character, Miles, who stumbles upon an evil billionaire’s dimension destroying super collider. He’s bitten by a radioactive spider, then is mentored by 4 other spider…people brought to his dimension when the billionaire turns on his machine for the first time. The group works together to destroy the collider and coax Miles into his new role while trying to not be destroyed themselves. 

The Talking Points:
One of the central themes of this movie is the power of believing in yourself. Our main character Miles is mild mannered and struggles to gain confidence in every aspect of his life.
Sample Questions:
What does it mean to believe in yourself?
When was a time that you didn’t know if you’d be good at something but you tried anyways?

What happened after you tried?
Were you happy you did it or did you wish you hadn’t done it?

The Activity

Look up a few beginner parkour videos on youtube, then help your kids et up their own course outside or inside where it’s safe. 


Frozen 2 – Change, Grief, White Supremacy

Frozen 2 has some pretty mature themes for a kids movie, but it’s still a great watch. This time around the sisters and their friends are on a quest to undo a great wrong in their family’s past that has had an enormous effect on their entire community. When they realize their kingdom was founded on lies and betrayal, they have to make it right if they have any hope of survival.

The Talking Points:
The most prevalent theme in this movie is the idea of change. Relationships have changed, season’s have changed, all the people we knew, have all changed since we last saw them. And there is still more change to come. Older children may be able to tackle the more mature sub themes, like exploitation, betrayal and misuse of power and how these things create generational disenfranchisement. (Don’t fight me on this one guys, the messages are clear. Disney knows going on, and they’ve been trying to break it down for kids for several films now.)
Sample Questions:
What was different in this movie from the first one?
How were the characters different?
Why do you think they were different? What was Elsa doing at Atuhala?
What was she there to find out?
What did she find out?
Who did a bad thing in the past?
What was the bad thing they did?
Who made it right?
Why is it important to fix it if we do something bad or wrong? 

The Activity:

Element Scavenger Hunt is easy, fun and educational. Explain each of the earth elements to your child, then time them in 4 rounds to see how many household items they can find associated with each element. The person with the most finds in each round wins.


How to Train Your Dragon 3 – Letting go, The Complexity of Loss 

The third film in this trilogy wraps up the characters story and teaches us some painfully valuable life lessons. How to Train your Dragon 3 explores what it means to accept change, even when it’s painful for us.

The Talking Points:
This film deals a lot with the complexity of change. Hiccup has come to realize that the friend he loves will never be safe in his world, and he must come to terms with the difficult reality this leaves him with. If we love someone, we must always do right be them, even, and especially when it is difficult for us.
Sample Questions:
What was something sad that happened in this movie?
What was something happy?
What was something that was both happy and sad?
Have you ever had a time in your life that was both happy and sad?
How did you feel?
What helped you to feel better?

The Activity

Help your little one improve their hand eye coordination and have some fun with the a dragon egg toss! Decorate some eggs with dye or glitter (hard boil them first if you want to avoid the mess) then get in teams of two to see who the best dragon egg tosser in the family is! The winner is the last one to drop or crack their egg.


The Secret Life of Pets 2 – The Power of Love

Pets 2 is a lighthearted comedy that explores the power of love through our pets. We watch as 3 furry friends are driven outside their comfort zone by the power of love for their friends and family. 

The Talking Points.
Why do you think the Max can’t stop scratching?
Why was he so worried about Liam, the little boy?
What happens to you when you get nervous or worried?
Why did Daisy go back to save the tiger? 
Why was Daisy willing to do something scary to save the tiger?
Who is someone you would do something scary for?

The Activity

Pet Charades Write the name of a few different characters from the movie and different pets, then put them in a hat and take turns pulling a paper, then acting it out. Remember, no talking!

10 Ways White Parents Can Talk About Race & Racism With Their Kids

Race has been a point of contention in the U.S. since its inception. Parents of black and brown children already understand the importance of instilling a sense of racial identity in their children, and discussing how racism will inevitably affect them, are essential tools for survival in America. White parents and children on the other hand, have a more disconnected relationship with race that often allows them to ignore the harsh realities of how racism lives and thrives here in the U.S. 

But as racist violence and the fight to combat it continues to dominate our daily lives, the necessity that white parents discuss racism with their children has reached a tipping point. As a white passing Latina, I can attest to the fact that unpacking these issues and our role in them, both conscious and subconscious, is tough stuff. But this work is ESSENTIAL. We have to recognize the ways in which we participate in these structures and how we benefit from keeping them in place. We’ve got to teach our children about race and what racism looks like so they can recognize it and learn to stand against it from a young age.

Common Sense Media, an excellent resource for parents to review the media their kids are consuming, has put together a list of ways we can discuss race and racism with our children. Television, books, movies and other media can be powerful tools in starting meaningful conversations that kids can understand. 

Below are 10 suggestions for how white parents can use media to start talking to their kids about racism, via Common Sense Media.

Protests in Painesville, OH. Photo via John Kuntz, clevland.com

Diversify Your Bookshelf

If you grew up reading Little House on the Prairie, you can still share these stories with your kids. But don’t stop there! Look for stories featuring and written by people of color. Here are some places to start:

Point Out Racism in Movies, TV and Games

It can be easy to let stereotypes fly by when watching the minstrel-show crows in Dumbo or exaggerated accents in The Goonies. But by pointing out when something is racist, you’re helping your kid develop critical thinking skills. These skills will allow conversations about race and stereotypes to deepen as kids get older.

Watch Hard Stuff

As kids get older, expose them to the harsh realities of racism throughout history and through the current day. That doesn’t mean nonstop cable news replaying gruesome details of violence but carefully chosen films like The 13th or McFarland, USA. You can also watch footage of protests to kick off conversations about anger, fear, oppression, and power. Be explicit about racism and discrimination being hurtful, damaging, and wrong.

Seek Out Media Created by People of Color

As you choose your family movie night pick or browse for books online, specifically look for authors and directors of color in lead roles or as fully developed characters. With older kids, take an audit of how many movies or books you’ve recently watched or read that were created by people of color. Discuss the reasons for any imbalance and the importance of a variety of perspectives.

Broaden Your Own Perspective

Follow and read black and brown voices and media outlets. Use what you learn to inform conversations with your kids. Some places to start –  but by no means a complete list:

Protests in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Photo via Eric Baerren

Discuss Hate Speech and Harassment Online

Ask kids if they’ve seen racist language in YouTube videos or comments. For social-media using kids, talk about racist memes. Ask them to show you examples  and aim to develop empathy without shaming them. Help them understand how following or sharing racist accounts helps spread hate. Brainstorm ways they can safely and responsibly speak out against racist imagery and messages online. Adapt this lesson on countering hate speech for your conversations.

Understand the Online Landscape

Read this account of a white mom parenting through her son’s exposure to online white supremacy. And read the son’s perspective. Learn more about places where white racist groups congregate and how they recruit, and keep discussions open and honest with kids who socialize on sites like Discord and Reddit.

Explore the Power of Tech Tools

Use recent examples of how phones, video recordings, and editing tools effect our understanding of race and racism. Discuss how the release of video evidence can spur action, like in the case of Ahmaud Arbery. Explore together how photos and videos can both reveal truth and hide it – especially when context is edited out. 

Build News Literacy

Besides sharing news articles from different perspectives with your kids, use opportunities like protests in Minneapolis to discuss how news is presented. What kinds of stories get the most attention? How are language and images used differently to depict people and incidents depending on the news outlet, the people involved, and the topic? Look at news coverage of incidents where white people commit acts of violence and compare to when people of color do. Identify the differences and explore the realities of why the same situation is presented so differently.

Teach Your Kid to be an Ally

Learn how white people can support people of color by being allies and then integrate these ideas into your conversations and actions with your kids. Talk through scenarios your kid might encounter online and discuss (and model) when it might be best to just listen, to call someone out, to amplify someone’s voice, to share resources, etc. Share mistakes you’ve made around race and racism – in person or online – with your kids so they know it’s ok to not be perfect and that we can correct our behavior and do better in the future. 

Protest in Dallas Tx. Photo via LM Otero, AP

Original words & links brought to you by Sierra Filucci, Editorial Director at Common Sense Media.

XO, Fake Mom