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by Character Diva

I’ve always loved Disney movies and as a kid, Family Movie Nights were always a big deal. So with Finding Dory being released onto dvd and bluray yesterday, it only made sense that a Disney Family Movie Night was in order.


While I was originally going to wait until the weekend to show the movie (I didn’t want my kiddos staying up too late on a school night), I decided to cave since my husband would be out of town and thought it would be a fun Mommy/kiddo activity. Not having a ton of time to plan (and I always try to do things on a fairly tight budget), I quickly got to work brainstorming ideas.



Food- Having dinner and a movie is a staple to our Family Movie Nights. And while it doesn’t always work out, I do try to plan the menu based on the movie as much as possible. Having previously hosted a Finding Nemo Family Movie Night, I decided to steal the menu from that (though I kept it much simpler and dropped making the desserts… just for timesake, and again, I didn’t want to load my kids up with a ton of sugar on a school night). Sticking with the “Fish are friends, not food”, we avoided seafood all together and opted for the jumbo taco shell casserole along with a seaweed (aka Caesar salad).


Games- I love games. I think they are such a great way to do stuff together as a family, and at the same time, add a little bit of movement and creative thinking other than just watching a movie and calling it a night.  While it would’ve been easy to fall back on some of our Finding Nemo games, I decided I wanted to do things differently, and opt for coming up with some games and activities that were specifically related to Finding Dory. So after some quick brainstorming (because again, we’re on a tight budget and a time cruch), here is what I came up with:


Seashell Art- Shells were such a crucial part of the movie in helping Dory find her parents. I also loved the idea of my kids expressing themselves and making all kinds of shell designs. I gave them each a piece of construction paper to use as a placemat and then allowed them to manipulate and organize the shells in whatever pattern or design they wanted. Disney Diva Tip: If you want this to be a more permanent piece of art, you can always have them glue the shells to something (I recommend cardstock or cardboard since it’s heavier). And for you teachers out there, particularly those of you who work with preschoolers or those in the primary grades, you can talk about designs, shapes, texture, or even make different patterns (such as AAB, AB, and so on). For those of you with students in older grades, you can always go into a marine biology mini-lesson and talk about the different creatures that came from the shells or other activities involving the life sciences.


Finding Dory Maze- Going off of the seashell idea, I wanted to make a sort of maze around the house, where my kids got to follow the seashells to find Dory. You could also have an image of Dory’s parents at the end (to make it in a little more in line with the movie). Disney Diva Tip: I just used a couple of Finding Dory tattoos I found at Hobby Lobby for this game (and the next), and some clipart of seashells, but you could easily print out clipart of Dory or her parents as well. 


Finding Dory Game- Several years ago when I was a student teacher working with kindergarteners, the teachers had a “Finding Nemo” game, where they would hide a picture of Nemo behind a letter card on a pocket chart and the kids would have to say the name of the letter they wanted to choose, what sound it made, whether it was capital or lowercase, and then they could lift it up to see if Nemo was hiding behind there. Obviously, this game could be modified to accommodate all kinds of skills (vocabulary, spelling words, numbers, math facts, shapes, and so on). Because my five and a half year old and almost four year old are working on sight words and word families, I decided to use some of our basic sight words as the words for Dory to hide behind… and it also made me feel slightly less guilty about throwing a family movie night on a school night. Disney Diva Tip: Don’t have a pocket chart? No worries, you can order one here or just even write words out on a bunch of index cards, lay them out on a table or on the floor, and have your family take turns lifting up the cards and turning them over.


Finding Dory Busy Bag- For those of you who have really little ones who are unable to play some of the older games, you can always make a Finding Dory busy bag. I found these Finding Dory characters at Target and put them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag filled with hair gel from The Dollar Tree mixed with blue food coloring. I then took that bag and placed it in a second Ziploc bag, just in case the first bag was punctured or came open… the last thing you want is blue hair gel all over your house! This was a perfect activity for my 22 month old and kept him entertaining while his sister and brother played the Finding Dory Sight Word Game.

Bonus Activities: IF you are fortunate enough to live by the ocean or an aquarium, and you have the time to make it an all-day event, you can of course look for shells, check out the local wildlife, or see what is on the exhibit and possibly even get to touch or interact with some of the marine life. For those of you who are teachers, you can obviously plan a field trip and do all kinds of mini-excursions and just learn about the creatures that live in the sea.

Another great idea that I really wanted to do, but was unable to do just because I only had a few hours to plan, was to make an oceans sensory bin. This can easily be done with a plastic container (preferably rectangular and fairly shallow) filled with sand, water, and objects such as toy fish or seashells. You can have your own mini-tidal pool in your home!


After all of that moving around, learning, and just spending time eating and hanging out together as a family, it was time to put on our movie and cuddle up under the blankets with some goldfish crackers. Not a bad way to spend the day if I do say so myself. Still need to buy your copy of Finding Dory? Click here to order it now!

What other party activities or family movie night ideas have you come up with? For other fun Finding Dory ideas, click here! We’d love to hear about them in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more great Family Movie Night Ideas, check out some of our ideas below! Have fun!


The Princess and the Frog

The Great Mouse Detective


Finding Nemo