The smell of fresh popcorn in an air-conditioned theater–who doesn’t love a summer trip to the movies? Check out these 6 great movies to bring your family to this summer!
Solo: A Star Wars Story (opens late May)
This latest offering in the mighty Star Wars franchise is a prequel in which young Han first meets future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian (a character introduced in Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back). Though the plot is being kept under wraps until the film opens, look for a strong supporting cast accompanying young Solo on his fast-paced galactic adventures. Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, and Woody Harrelson and directed by Ron Howard.
Good for: Tweens age 11+
Incredibles 2 (opens June)
It’s been 14 years since Pixar released The Incredibles, but the sequel appears well worth the wait, with wide-ranging appeal for kids as well as their parents (who will appreciate the in-jokes of superheroes getting stressed out by family life). Director Brad Bird and the original cast (including Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, and Samuel L. Jackson) return.
Good for: Everybody
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Opens July)
Teen Titans GO To the Movies (Opens July)
Young fans of these two series will get a kick out of these new animated films– one about a comic family of monsters and the other about a chummy band of superheroes, respectively. The language and positive messages are appropriate for small viewers, and nothing here is too scary or violent.
Good for: Littles (age 6 – 10)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Opens July)
If you saw the 2015 original, you’ll know that actors Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly play Ant-Man and the Wasp, a charismatic duo who can become super-small yet remain super-strong. Also starring Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne. The film has more of a sense of humor than some of the other Marvel films, plus the thrilling action sequences we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Directed by Peyton Reed.
Good for: Tweens age 11+, teens, adults
Eighth Grade (Opens July)
A good choice for indie film lovers. This coming-of-age story (part comedy, part drama), written and directed by Bo Burnham, had a great reception at the Sundance Film Festival. Critic Scott Menzel wrote: “This tour-de-force performance is one of the most authentic and honest portrayals of a teenager in cinema history.” In fact, the young woman playing the lead had never appeared on screen prior to this film.
Good for: Teens, adults
Want more ideas for fun kid activities this summer? Check ActivityHero.com for schedules, reviews, and easy booking.
Christmas break and other holidays can leave kids bored or blue. Beat cabin fever with these low-cost family-fun activities that kids of all ages enjoy.
By Jennifer Moore
The holidays are one of the best times of year to promote family bonding, and doing activities as a group can help strengthen those ties even more. Keeping your kids’ brains and hands busy also makes for fonder memories, since boredom and cabin fever are sure-fire triggers for sibling squabbles. The following are a few activities that cost little or nothing and can be enjoyed by children of all ages. With each one, think about your own favorite holiday activities from childhood, and use those fond memories to add your own special touch.
Start making holiday crafts, tree ornaments, wall ornaments, and frames. You’ll get keepsakes you can bring out every Christmas, and your kids will get a kick out of seeing their crafts on display for years to come. (Be sure to have your child add their name and date to each item.) Even if Christmas is over, creating decorations is a great way to keep kids busy during the break. Plus, you can see what areas of the house could use some extra adornment next year, then make items just for those spots. This is also a great time to do minor repairs and touch-ups on decorations from years-gone-by.
Stir Up Some Fun
Kids of all ages love to cook, and the holidays are the perfect time for parents and kids to bond while baking. Get out the cookie cutters, icing, and edible decorations (such as sprinkles and candy letters), and create unique cookies, cupcakes, and candies. If you’re not much of a baker, purchase a gingerbread house kit and have fun decorating it. Clean-up tip: If you’re not planning on nibbling on the gingerbread house later, you can adorn it with old candies that are left over from Halloween or school goodie bags.
Don’t forget family movie night! A dreary or cold day is the perfect time to pull out all of those must-see holiday classics. Or break out the new DVDs that the kids recently received as presents. This is especially great when siblings are tiring of each other or when they don’t like to play the same games. Having the “shared experience” of watching a movie will provide siblings with an enjoyable interaction. Plus, they’ll have something to discuss later, such as favorite scenes, lines, and characters from the film. If they tend to bug each other, be sure to have them be bookends, with you sandwiched between them as a buffer.
The best way to get rid of extra Christmas cookies is to invite some of your kids’ friends over. This may seem like a lot of work when you’re already trying to amuse your own children all day during break, but it actually may give you time to regroup while the kids show friends their new toys and games. You and your spouse can take turns supervising the play date, while the other does chores … or relaxes with a good book.
It’s easier to get rid of cabin fever if you don’t spend the whole break in your “cabin.” If you live in a place that gets winter weather, then go out and enjoy the snow. Building snowmen, making snow angels, having snowball fights, and even constructing snow forts or igloos are all classic family activities because they just never stop being fun. But if you live in sunny California or Florida, winter is also the perfect season for a family walk in the neighborhood, a sing-along with the local kids, a hike in a local wildlife refuge, or a sight-seeing trip to a local tourist spot. Check out local travel guides and newspapers to see what family-friendly events are coming up.
Boost Kids’ Brainpower
School’s out, but that doesn’t mean your children have to stop learning. For kids who love tech, sit down together and check out interactive games on websites like ABCya.com, PBSKids.com and DiscoveryKids.com. Or plan an educational family outing to a nearby planetarium, zoo, children’s museum, or state park. Many such locations offer free talks from experts, guides, or rangers. (Kids don’t need to know that they’re educational!) You can also document the visit with photos, then research fun facts on wildlife or relevant subject matter when you return home.
When you ask adults what they remember most from their childhood, many will place “family game nights” among the “best nights of their lives.” Though kids will love playing against you on some of their video games, they’ll also get a kick out of playing those “old-fashioned” games from your childhood. Get out the Monopoly board or play Clue. Even a game of Scrabble can be fun when you divide the family into teams — particularly if your teens are obsessed with Words with Friends.
Burn Off Some Kid Energy
Many public parks set up ice-skating rinks for the winter, complete with cheerful Christmas lights and skate rentals. Or simply grab some hot cocoa, soak up the holiday music, and sit and watch the skaters twirl by. Not a fan of ice? Hit the roller rink or ski slopes instead. Or try a physical activity that requires less athletic talent, such as bouncing at a trampoline park, or a different kind of skill, such as playing laser tag. These latter options may be less holiday-oriented, but they’re just as good at burning off holiday-cookie calories and kids’ excess energy.
Jennifer Moore is a mother of three, juggling work, kids, and family time. Promoting family time is usually a job that falls on Mom’s shoulders, but the benefits are long-lasting, keeping a family united over generations.