Before the kids head back to class, throw a back-to-school movie night with the perfect cozy setting, plenty of treats, and a film.
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I don’t know about you, but our summer vacations seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Maybe it’s because my kids are getting taller. With only a few more “first day of school” days ahead of us, I thought it was time to have a little back-to-school movie night.
I started searching for ideas and found a ton of school-themed movies for kids. Some of them, my teens haven’t even seen yet! Most of the movies are in the middle range as far as ratings, but there are a few that are rated G… or R (although most of those weren’t really about school).
A movie night doesn’t have to be elaborate. These ideas will help you plan the perfect end of summer celebration with family movies about school.
How to plan a movie night
Of course, you can just pop a movie into your Blu-ray player or cue it up on Netflix. But if you want to make your family movie night extra-special or turn it into a party, here are a few easy ideas.
Pick a theme
We’ve done family dinner themes for Friday night movies or games.
Teens might not be interested in a themed movie night, but if your kids are younger, try these movie party craft ideas. Decide which movie to watch, then make crafts and snacks to match.
Bring in all the pillows and blankets to build a cozy nest on the floor. First, roll out a picnic blanket, then line the walls with pillows and cushions so everyone has room to sit however they’re comfortable.
Set up a popcorn bar with plenty of options. Plan on 2-3 cups of popcorn per guest and make some classic salty popcorn as well as some sweet kettle corn.
Include a few flavored popcorn toppings, like cheese or ranch, and set up dishes of candy, cookies, or other complimentary treats.
Soda, lemonade, or Kool-Aid are good movie night drinks. If you want to do something really special, think about the frozen drinks your kids can get at the movie theater.
Hide the phones
I’m as guilty as the next mom for scrolling through my phone while also watching something on tv with my family. I think on a regular weeknight, it’s a perfectly fine way to unwind. We all need to zone out sometimes.
To make this a real movie theater experience, have everyone put their phones out of reach. Unlike the movie theater, this makes it easier to talk about what’s happening through the movie.
Back to school movies
Whether you’re looking for elementary school-appropriate movies or something your middle school kids and teens will enjoy, I’ve got these movie titles organized by rating. Because they change so often, I’ve linked to where you can watch many of these on Amazon. You may be able to find some of them on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or Paramout+.
1. A Goofy Movie (1995, G)
Goofy’s teenage son Max is often embarrassed by his dad. When he pulls a prank at school to catch a girl’s attention, it backfires and Goofy decides they need to go on a father-son road trip. (The sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie, is about Max going to college.)
2. Matilda (1996, PG)
Based on the Roald Dahl book, a child with telekinesis gets back at all the adults who have mistreated her, including her parents and the school principal.
3. High School Musical (2006, G)
In a Romeo and Juliet variation, 2 teens from rival cliques team up to audition for the school’s musical and resist peer pressure.
4. Monster’s University (2013, G)
A prequel to Monster’s Inc., Mike and Sully attend college to learn how to scare. They start out as rivals and must learn to work together.
5. Grease (1978, PG)
An exchange student named Sandy has a summer romance with Danny, but when school starts she learns he is from a very different clique. Sandy must learn how to navigate being the new kid and Danny must decide what’s important.
6. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979, PG)
A fangirl gets tickets to see her favorite band, The Ramones, but the principal takes it away because she hates rock and roll. When the girl wins tickets to see the band anyway, they help her overthrow the music-hating principal.
7. Back to the Future (1985, PG)
A teen accidentally travels back in time from 1980 to 1950. He changes history and must make sure his parents fall in love or he will cease to exist.
8. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993, PG)
In this sequel, an entertainer has to reprise her disguise as a nun to teach music to teens at a troubled school to keep it from closing.
9. Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995, PG)
A musician reluctantly takes a temporary job teaching high school music. When his unconventional methods are challenged, he realizes this is where he wants to be.
10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001, PG)
Based on the JK Rowling book, a boy discovers that he is a wizard and begins attending a magical boarding school where he learns the magic of friendship.
11. Napoleon Dynamite (2004, PG)
An awkward teen who struggles at home and school befriends the new student and they launch a campaign for class president.
12. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004, PG)
A teen girl who wants to become an actor moves to a small town and decides to become the most popular girl, but has to face another girl with similar ambitions.
13. Akeelah and the Bee (2006, PG)
An 11-year old girl dreams of competing in the National Spelling Bee. When her mother objects, she finds support from a teacher and the whole community.
14. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010, PG)
Based on the Jeff Kinney book, a boy struggles through middle school and documents his schemes, misadventures, and thoughts.
15. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (2016, PG)
A boy with a vivid imagination transfers to a new school where he’s a bit of a troublemaker and, along with his new friend, terrorizes the principal.
16. Wonder (2017, PG)
Based on the RJ Palacio book, a 10-year-old boy with facial differences has been homeschool and had multiple surgeries. When he attends school for the first time, he encounters bullies and friends.
17. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, PG-13)
A high school senior who’s always gotten away with skipping school decides to have one last adventure, but the principal is set on catching him.
18. Billy Madison (1995, PG-13)
An irresponsible rich man who never grew up is set to take over the family business, but his father insists that he retakes and passes all 12 grades in 6 months to prove he can do it.
19. Clueless (1995, PG-13)
Based on Jane Austen’s Emma, a popular Beverly Hills teen plays matchmaker. When she makes over a new student who becomes more popular, she has to confront her motives.
20. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, PG-13)
Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, two sisters are told that the younger one can when the older one does. The reluctant older sister isn’t interested, but the younger one enlists help to hatch a scheme for prom.
21. The School of Rock (2003, PG-13)
A guitarist is kicked out of his band and gets a job as a substitute elementary music teacher, where his rebellious teaching style leads up to a battle of the bands.
22. Mean Girls (2004, PG-13)
A teen who has been homeschool moves to a small town where she joins a clique of popular, mean girls and must decide who she really is.
23. She’s the Man (2006, PG-13)
Based on Shakespeare’s 12th Night, a teen girl poses as her twin brother to attend his boarding school, but things backfire when she develops a crush on her roommate and her brother returns early.
24. Accepted (2006, PG-13)
A slacker who can’t get into a university decides to create his own fake college, but it backfires when too many other classmates apply.
25. Easy A (2010, PG-13)
A teen girl lies to her best friend about losing her virginity. Then the school gossip spreads the story, making her instantly popular for the wrong reason.
Check out some other fun and creative ideas on One Mama’s Daily Drama: