Family Movies News

The Hollywood Guide to Summer Kids’ Activities: Four Boredom Busters You Can Learn from the Movies

Tara McNamara, editor of, guests on our Fandango Freshly Popped Blog with her Guide to Summer Kids' activities.

What is the most identifiable sound of summer? Birds chirping? Ice cream truck music blaring? Swimmers splashing? That’s lovely but, to a parent like me, it’s children whining, “I’m borrrrrrrred.”

This weekend’s new family film release, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, is about an imaginative third-grader’s attempt to have the best summer ever. The film is a goldmine of creative ideas you and your kids can adopt.
But why stop there? Here are ways you can follow in the footsteps of characters from this summer’s movies to give your kids a fun, inspired summer (without tracking down Bigfoot).
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
Movie Plot: Judy, brother Stink and Aunt Opal liven up a lonely summer by finding ways to make life in a small town “thrilladelic.”
How to Learn from This Movie: The takeaway possibilities are endless, but as a starter suggestion, try Aunt Opal’s “I Ate Something Gross” club. Make it daring and exciting to try new foods at restaurants or put unusual ingredients together for homemade concoctions (Pixie Stick eggs? Cinnamon avocados?). At the McNamara household, we’ve learned that orange juice and Fresca is pretty tasty but red pepper smoothies, not so much.
Movie Plot: Small-town kids use the home movie camera to make their own film – and discover a mysterious cover-up.
How to Learn from This Movie: Lend the kids your flip cam to make their own movie. Super 8 is drawn from Steven Spielberg’s and J.J. Abrams’s own childhood initiatives borrowing their family camera to create their own entertainment. In the age of YouTube, as Lucas Cruikshank discovered with his “Fred” character, Kids + Flip Cam + An Idea can lead to fame and fortune!
Movie Plot: Capt. Jack Sparrow has a map to one kind of hidden treasure, the Fountain of Youth!
How to Learn from This Movie: Kids can hunt for “buried treasure.” Parents hide a small bag of coins or other treats and create a set of clues children discover during their quest. Afterward, kids can create their own treasure hunts for each other.
Movie Plot: The animals at the zoo try to help their zookeeper land a girlfriend based on the lessons they know from the animal kingdom. By the way, the animals can talk.
How to Learn from This Movie: Wait a minute, this one is produced by Adam Sandler and full of foul language, inappropriate situations and crude humor – are you sure you want to use this movie as a role model for kids?
OK, if your kids are begging you to let them see it, at least make the most of it. Take a trip to the zoo afterwards with an improvisational goal in mind: pay attention to the behaviors of the animals. Have kids create a voice for their favorites along the way and demonstrate how they’d handle different situations that don’t include the potty. How would a meerkat handle a bully? How would a flamingo take out the trash? What would a Komodo Dragon do if he got lost?
Here’s another idea: your kid can be a movie critic! After watching the movie, kids can write a review and see it published online at Every week this summer, we’ll be giving away movie tickets from Fandango to our “kid critics!”
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