Planning an activity for the whole family can get pretty tough, especially when zillions of other things compete for your children's attention. Here are some great activities for family night that will win your little ones over, hands down.
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Around the world
Reserve one night of the week for a country and plan the entire evening around it. Research as a family -- or assign older children the task of doing the research -- to learn about activities and meals from that country that you can enjoy together. Older children (10 to 14) can teach the family the basics about the country: name, origin, flag, location, etc. Choose and cook the cuisine together.
To add more value to the night, plan ahead. Craft clothing, hats, masks, or anything else that relates to the country of choice. You might even choose to devote the entire week to the country of choice.
The trust game
Designate a leader, who wears a blindfold while the followers instruct her on her way through the house without her bumping into things or each other. Then reverse the roles and have the leader lead the now-blindfolded kids around the home.
For a fun twist on dress-up, switch roles and places at the table. Switch up parents and siblings: Mommy is Daddy, Sister is Brother, Brother is Mom, and Dad is Sister -- and all have to act the parts.
Families with little ones
Pull out the camera and take pictures of your little one making faces. Later, create a scrapbook or memory book of the pictures. Write the emotion that the child is displaying below each picture. As the child grows, she can learn the word that correlates to the face and get a kick out of her own personalized book.
Follow the leader
This is a simple, easy activity that you can do while also doing household chores. Create mommy's little copycat by having your child mimic everything that you do. As you go along, point out various colors, letters of the alphabet, home items, etc. which he, in the course of the game, will repeat -- and learn.
Nursery rhyme time
Devote the evening to nursery rhymes. Sing, dance and play along to all of your favorite nursery rhymes. Learn new ones by Googling or Youtubing.
Any & all families
Family movie night
A family movie night is perfect for children of all ages. If you have the time, make the movie night a cooperative event: Go to the video store, Redbox or computer (Netflix or Hulu) to choose the movie together. (Narrow the picks down beforehand, or select a member of the family to choose and create a rotation schedule.) Then, hit the grocery store for snacks and drinks. Go home, throw some pillows and blankets in front of the "movie screen" and enjoy.
To jazz it up a bit, plan a night ahead of time to create the movie theater scenery. Grab some cardboard boxes, crayons, and markers, and have the kids create concession stands, as well as a movie backdrop. Use newspaper clippings for movie advertisements on the outside of the "theater." This will be a perfect family craft night for kids aged 5 to 10 years old.
Ask older kids (7 to 12) to create alternative endings or a sequel for the movie and act them out for the rest of the family. Make sure to get everyone involved, including Mom and Dad.
Record a typical family night, starring all family members. Each member can tell her favorite color, activity, etc. to the camera. If the child is too young, capture him doing some of his favorite things, like patty-cake, or Mommy singing him his favorite song. Your family will enjoy watching the recordings for years to come.
More family night ideas