Learn how to create a movie theater experience and other movie night ideas at home.
Would you love to go to the movies as a family?
But there’s no way your kids will sit through an entire movie.
Or you’d have to go alone to be able to afford the tickets, which kind of defeats the purpose of going as a family.
Or there’s a pandemic and the entire country is shut down, including your local movie theater.
What if I told you there was a way to enjoy a movie theater experience at home?
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When you can’t, or don’t want to, go to the movie theater as a family, bring the movie theater experience home!
We are not big movie theater goers. However, most Saturday nights my husband watches a movie at home with two of our boys. They’ve been doing this for quite a few months now, and the boys look forward to it each week.
On a recent Saturday, my husband decided to have some fun with their movie night and set up a movie theater at home. The kids had helped us with some intensive yardwork that morning, so he thought this would be a fun way to thank them for their help.
How to Make a Movie Theater for Family Movie Night at Home
To create this experience, you’ll make several signs. You could use copy or construction paper, or if you’re computer savvy, you could create some to print out. You’ll want to make these ahead of time so they’re ready to go.
- Make a welcome sign for the theater. You can name it whatever you’d like, or just have the sign say, “Welcome to the Theater.”
- Create a second sign with your movie choices. You could also add in some fun with several movies available on your sign. When my husband created his sign, he did this. Coincidentally the only movie not sold out was the movie they were going to watch. Hmmm…that was convenient.
- Make a final sign for your concession stand, listing all of the concessions available, along with prices.
How to Set Up Your “Movie Theater” at Home
If you want your kids to really get a kick out of the experience, then take a little time before you get the movie ready to prepare a few fun items for your “theater”. It’ll also be a lot more fun if your kids don’t know what’s going on until right before the movie. The following are great movie night ideas at home for kids that they will absolutely love.
1. Create a Ticket Counter
Your ticket counter does not need to be anything fancy. A simple TV tray set up near the front hallway made our ticket counter. My husband hung his welcome sign on the wall behind his ticket counter, along with a sign underneath that stated which movies were playing. After they “buy” their tickets, you could give them a movie ticket to enter the theater.
Fun Tip: We gave the kids certain amounts of play money so they could purchase movie tickets and concessions. It’s a great way to add in some math review. Educational games are another fun way to add in review.
2. Create a Concession Stand
Again, a concession stand does not have to be elaborate. Ours was our kitchen counter. It can’t get much simpler than that! Snacks that the kids don’t often get were laid out like at a movie theater. A sign listing the choices and prices hung on a cabinet above the counter.
You may be thinking, “Prices? You mean you charged your kids?!” Well, this was a movie theater experience, wasn’t it?
Just kidding. We did put prices on the concession sign, but the kids received a certain amount of play money before they entered the theater to pay for it. However, we were selective with how much money they got. They received just enough play money to pay for their movie ticket, two snacks, and a drink.
Add in Review of Math Skills Through Your Concession Stand
The play money you use for the concession stand can be a perfect review for math skills using money. If you have preschool or kindergarten age children, you could price everything for $1. Then only give them money for the amount of snacks they are allowed to have. For example, if you only want them to be able to get two snacks and a drink, then only give them $3. Have them practice counting it to you.
If your children are older, then you could add change to your concession prices. Pricing all of the snacks differently will provide practice adding various amounts of money. You could also have them figure out how much change they should receive if you give them, say $10 in play money if their total is $6.75.
3. Choose your Family Movie
What’s a family movie night without a movie? Your final step is to decide which movie to watch. You could choose one from your home collection, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. You’ll find some of our favorites below that are great family movie night ideas at home for kids.
Make Your Theater a Multiplex!
Usually a family movie night involves the whole family watching the same movie. But what if you have family members wanting different movies? If you have a TV in more than one room, then you can set up a theater in more than one room. Perhaps girls in one room, boys in another. Or maybe the older kids watch a more mature movie while the younger kids watch a movie more suited for them.
Summertime Twist: Make a “Drive-In” Movie Theater!
When the weather is nice enough, you can move your movie theater outside. You will need a movie projector to do this, if you don’t already have one, and a screen on which to watch the movie. Screens can be as simple as the side of your house, if it’s flat. Or just hanging a white sheet over a clothesline and staking it into the grass. You can also create your own outdoor movie screen. If you enjoy woodworking, you might even try your hand at making a movie projector using your smartphone too.
That’s it! Just a few simple steps and you’ve got a fun family movie night ready to go.
Perfect Movie Ideas for Your Family Movie Night at Home
We love to watch movies based on books we’ve read as read alouds during our morning basket time. It’s such fun to compare and contrast the book from the movie. Other favorites include Disney or other children’s movies, and occasionally movies that my husband and I enjoyed growing up.
Our Favorite Family Movies
I’m sure you probably have lots of favorite family movies that you like to rotate through your family movie nights. However, sometimes we all want to see something new.
Please note that our families are different. You may want to read the reviews of any movies before you watch them. My children range in age from preschool to high school. Sometimes we’ll watch movies with the older kids that might have something like mild violence that we never would have let them watch as 5 or 6-year-olds.
Favorite Movies Based on Books We’ve Read
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (My kids also love the Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader movies.)
- Mary Poppins (We’ve read the first two books in this series so far, and they are fun and delightful!)
- Alice in Wonderland (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was quite a strange read aloud. But then again, the movie is a bit odd as well!)
- Peter Pan (When you have boys, of course they’ll love a movie about swords and pirates.)
- Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (They get rather dark after the first movie-only our older children are allowed to watch any past the first movie.)
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (This picture book is such fun, and we’ve enjoyed both of the movies.)
- Bridge to Terabithia (This book/movie takes a sad turn. You may want to preview it for sensitive children who get upset by death.)
Classic or Other Non-Animated Movies We Enjoy
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks (This movie is hilarious! We all really enjoyed it.)
- Christopher Robin (One of my sons loves Winnie the Pooh, but we all loved this movie. I thought it was very cute.)
- Beauty and the Beast (I like both this non-animated and the animated one listed below.)
- Matilda (Boys and girls alike will enjoy this movie.)
- The Princess Bride (I can’t believe I never saw this movie growing up. My husband had, so he suggested that we all watch it. It was so funny & we all liked it.)
- Star Wars (I’m not a fan, but my husband and kids love the movies.)
- National Treasure (We enjoy discussing the historical events/times mentioned in both of these movies.)
- Rudy (My husband & kids are big sports fans, so we’ve watched many older sports movies like this.)
- Invincible (This was one that we didn’t watch as an entire family, but one my husband and boys watched on their movie night.)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (My husband saw this movie as a child. I wasn’t prepared to like it, but I thought it was cute.)
- Jumanji (This was such a wild movie! Robin Williams was great in it.)
- The Neverending Story (Another movie I surprisingly didn’t see as a child, but enjoyed when we all watched it together.)
Favorite Animated Movies
- Beauty and the Beast (My absolute favorite Disney movie. I love this movie, and luckily my kids–even the boys–like it too.)
- Hotel Transylvania (These movies are hilarious. My preschooler particularly loves Dracula.)
- Toy Story (loved ALL of them) Yes, the third one does make me tear up. Every time.
- Aladdin (Another good movie for boys and girls. My daughter is the one who really likes this movie.)
- Up (This movie is so sweet. You feel so bad for the older man.)
- The Boxcar Children (This has become a series of books with the same title. I believe my kids have read a few of them. But we originally saw the movie, which is a sweet movie about orphaned children.)
Create Your Own Family Movie
If your kids like to be on video, then you could create a family video! Not only is this an amazing movie night idea at home, but it’s also a wonderful teaching opportunity. You could teach your kids what goes into creating a movie. Your kids can help come up with characters, a plot, the setting and a theme for the movie. They could create a simple script and allow family members time to practice lines or come up with scenes.
Additionally, for homeschool families, this is a perfect example of project based learning. You could assign your children to create a short movie, or even just a scene, about a book they’ve recently read. Historical people and events are also great ideas for a movie created by kids.
A simple way to film the movie is with a smartphone. If you think you’ll be creating movies or home video often enough, you could purchase a video camera. My oldest son is really into filming, so he got his own video camera as a Christmas gift. He loves to use it, along with video editing software on our computer, to make his own movies.
Once the movie is complete, whether made by the whole family or just the kids, everyone can gather to watch it. What an awesome family movie night, watching a movie the family created together!
You don’t have to go to the movies and spend lots of money on tickets and snacks to enjoy time with your family. You can create a movie theater experience in your own home for a fantastic family movie night! Your kids will absolutely love it, and will probably beg for the home theater again and again–I know mine have! So whether you’re stuck at home because of weather, lack of money, or the country is shut down, creating a movie theater at home is a fun family activity that will create great memories.
Do you have any fun memories created during family movie nights that you’d like to share? Please comment below with your own movie night ideas at home.