In our parental zeal to minimize children's "screen-time," we sometimes forget what a magical experience a great movie can be. There are many truly wonderful films we want to share with our children—classics like Willy Wonka and The Wizard of Oz, or contemporary gems such as the irresistible Babe or Hayao Myazaki's whimsical My Neighbor Totoro.
It is often tempting to use a movie as a convenient babysitter, but doesn't that dilute the charm? This year we are planning to try a different approach. We want to make watching a movie the special occasion it really should be. The trick is in the presentation, and there's no more thrilling way to watch a movie than under the stars on a warm summer night.
Putting together a backyard movie night requires a little doing, but is absolutely worth the effort. You may want to invest in a DVD projector, or you could rent one. You'll also need speakers, extension cords, and a table to put all of the equipment on. A white wall or sheet can serve as the screen, and there you have it! Set things up in advance, and do a couple test runs to make sure it all works. And do remember to secure the cords so that the kids don't trip on them.
Beyond the technical aspects, your backyard movie night will also require wonderful friends to share the evening; lots of popcorn, drinks and other goodies; lawn chairs, sleeping bags and pillows; a heads up to the neighbors, and (don't forget!) bug spray.
With all of the above, you have the makings of a truly exciting, memorable night for all ages. As for those lucky children, they will experience the magic of the movies in a whole new way.
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