What’s more fun for your toddler than watching his favorite show or movie? Making one themselves! If you’re looking for a fun way to cut down on your little one’s screen time, try challenging him to get behind the camera – either literally or metaphorically – before turning on the TV (or the smartphone, or the tablet) to watch just one more thing.
Movie-making challenge variations
- Baby’s Favorite, The Sequel: When Baby finishes watching his very favorite show or movie, try asking him to show you (or to work out on his own) what he thinks happens next in the story after the credits roll. He can do this by dressing up as a character themselves, using toys for each different character, or some combination of the two. Figuring out what happens next will exercise his imagination, and the familiar characters may help keep him engaged, even if pretend-play isn’t what he originally wanted to do.
- Play it again, Sam: Before you give in to Baby’s plea to see that beloved show or movie one more time, ask him if he can recreate it for you. You may be shocked by how many of the lines he knows word for word.
- Lights, camera, action: Toddlers love having their parents’ attention on them, and capturing your little one’s own performance on video is a great way to prove that you’re paying perfect attention. Plus, you’ll be glad to have these videos around as he grows up.
Activities like these can actually be meaningful ways to start teaching young children how to watch movies and TV critically, instead of just accepting all of the stories and biases being presented on the screen. Asking your little one to dress up in a wacky outfit and act out his favorite character’s approach to what comes after the happily-ever-after is not only fun, it’s also a great first step toward media literacy.