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Tell Us Your Favorite Family Films
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While road testing ideas for our web site, we have learned a lot about how to get our kids off the couch and into the city. Here are some of our secrets.
Kids routinely groan when you suggest a film they haven't already memorized. Promise them that if, after fifteen minutes, they don't want to continue with your choice, they can switch to one of their own. Chances are, they'll be hooked. If they're not, let them eject with glee. Keep up your end of the bargain and you'll have more credibility the next time around.
Try the "This was one of Daddy's favorite movies when he was growing up" introduction. Our kids always seem to be fascinated with the lives we led before we became parents. You'll have a (brief) spotlight for your own walk down memory lane.
We have chosen films which adults will enjoy screening - films we loved in college, classic titles and little known gems. Have a few movies ready to pop into the DVD player at any given time, and don't worry if you can't finish a film in one sitting. Grandparents (as well as babysitters) love to get in on the action, too.
The goal is to be the lens through which your kids interpret the movie. Watching "All The President's Men" as a family led to a discussion of the Vietnam era and how we wore P.O.W. bracelets when we were teens. Soon, the kids made the connection to the Lance Armstrong's Live Strong bracelets. In a natural way, our kids learned about Vietnam, Watergate and the Tour de France - not to mention, our opinions on the subject.
Believe us, they've got 'em. If they're shy about expressing themselves, prompt them with "Do you think your friend Samantha would like this film?" Soon you'll have savvy junior film critics on your couch.
Our kids get a kick out of watching a movie they've added to our Netflix queue.
For your first few adventures, choose an outing that makes sense for your family. Once your kids trust you to choose fun venues, they'll be more willing to try exotic excursions.
Our kids bring friends, we bring friends, and everybody has one giant play date. Your intrepid creativity will be a hit with other moms, and you'll see your children embrace new adventures more readily. Facing a long day in a new place is always easier when you have a play date of your own.
Stopping for a smoothie puts everyone in a good mood. Offering dessert if they try a new cuisine, shopping for a trinket in a new neighborhood, or letting them take a roll of film in a garden goes a long way towards winning cooperation.
A huge museum is a daunting environment, but asking your kids to find their favorite sculpture turns gallery hopping into a game. Remember a fun, focused hour at a museum is a huge success.
On many Popcorn Adventures we suggest a "Secret Agenda" for easing kids into a new environment. They have worked miracles for us. We've designed treasure hunts through museums and created outlines of news stories for junior reporters. Once you get the hang of it, you can invent your own secret agendas, but don't forget to share them with us!
Have a sense of humor (a cup of coffee helps). We've left many a museum gallery giggling with the kids about something we didn't like. Encourage them to rate the adventures. Culture is definitely much cooler when it isn't presented as precious.