In November of 2015 Sarah Aadland from Doing Good Together™‘s Big-Hearted Families™ wrote this guest post. She offered so many great ideas to help you make We Can Give Back Month a great family experience and Turn Family Movie Night into a Cozy Act of Kindness. With the weather cooling down, we think this is a great time to share this information again. Thanks so much for all your advice, Sarah!
As the air gets cooler and another fierce Minnesota winter peeks its abominable head above the horizon, it’s time to make some plans. That’s right, hibernation season is almost upon us. Lazy, fluffy-socked, hot-cocoa-fueled hibernation. Because family movie night is my family’s favorite part of hibernation season, we’ve been busily adding to our must-watch list for months.
And this year, we’re transforming at least one movie night a month into a cozy act of kindness.
Fortunately, the Big-Hearted Families™ tools created by the national nonprofit Doing Good Together™ are all about helping families turn their favorite activities into a force for good.
I’ll admit, by the time I get myself in front of a family movie, I tend to be an unmotivated, tired mess. The thought of “productively” watching a movie makes me want to throw popcorn at someone.
But I’m a convert. I’ve seen how simple, creative kindness projects – like the ones listed below – can add magic a much richer dimension to family movie night (or afternoon… or weekend!).
In the past our movie time acts of kindness have been so low key, we often require two movies to complete our task, and so far, we’ve had no complaints. We take breaks for popcorn or root beer floats. Little Miss Second Grade often bails on us after about thirty minutes, and that’s okay. She often come back to our project before the credits roll.
The point is we’re relaxing, creating, and practicing compassion together.
In the end, we have the movie itself to inspire big-hearted, whole-family conversations. Plus we can talk about the impact of the project we’ve completed, using the reflection questions included in many of the links below. Even Little Brother, who is just four, chimes in with amazing observations when we take a moment to reflect together.
Ready to give it a try? Try adapting these kid-friendly reflection questions with your featured movie:
- Did you like this movie? Why or why not?
- Who was your favorite character? What did you enjoy about that character?
- What challenge were the characters having a hard time solving?
- What do you think about how they faced the situation and what they decided to do about it?
- How do you think you would feel if you were in a similar situation?
- What would you do if you had to solve a problem like the one the character in the movie had to deal with?
Wondering what to watch? Consider some of the titles from these great lists:
- Common Sense Media’s list of TV Shows and Movies to Promote Empathy
- Kid World Citizen’s list of Nature Documentaries for Kids
- A Fine Parent’s list of the 25 Best Family Movies for Teaching Honesty, Grit, Courage, & More
- Edutopia’s 5 Minute Film Festival: Video’s on Kindness, Empathy, & Connection
- FFTC adds: Common Sense Media also has a list of movies that tackles racism.
Enjoy these cozy kindness projects during your next family movie night!
- Host a Color-a-Smile-a-thon: This wonderful, nonprofit organization accepts all standard-sized kids’ drawings and sends them on to nursing homes, meals on wheels recipients, hospitals, and other individuals in need of a smile. Transform your coffee table into an art studio, and get started!
- Create Greeting Cards: Here’s another one for little artists. If you have perpetual doodlers in the family, put those creative juices to work making cards for children with a serious illness. You can find information about children with chronic illnesses who are eager for “happy mail” at www.cardsforhospitalizedkids.org or www.sendkidstheworld.com.
- Decorate Lunch Bags for Meals on Wheels Recipients: Help seniors in the community feel loved and stay independent by supporting Meals on Wheels. Your cheery, creatively designed lunch bags will be used to deliver dessert to local seniors.
- Make No Sew Fleece Blankets: Pass on the gift of coziness with a blanket for Project Linus. Kids love tying the fringe along the edges, knowing their gift will bring comfort to another child.
- Create Hand-Made Treasures to Share: Spread joy and neighborly love in your community with homemade keepsakes or simple gifts. Pick a seasonal craft, gather up your materials, and make as many as you can during your featured family movie.
- Make Pet toys or Blankets: Animal lovers could watch their favorite creature feature while making gifts for animals in a shelter.
- Create Learning Toys for Babies: These great discovery bottles are simple to make, fun to decorate, and so stimulating for infants and toddlers. Donate your creations to a shelter or give them to your pediatrician to hand out as needed.
- Make Seasonal Decorations to Share: Create a seasonal wreath, prepare holiday decorations, or create one-of-a-kind art to leave on a neighbor’s doorstep with a self-designed kindness note.
Do you have other ideas for a movie night kindness activity? We’d love to hear it and share it! Leave us a comment with your best ideas!
Learn more about Doing Good Together and Big-Hearted Families here.