Learn how to make your own DIY Kids Drive-In Movie Party with a few supplies and a lot of fun!
Our Crafting with Cardboard Series continues! Whether it’s an after-school program or your kid’s birthday party, a Drive-In Movie theme will entertain the kids for hours. It’s very simple and easy! It requires cardboard boxes, a few art supplies, and a huge imagination. We invited 30 kids ages 3 – 12 to our Drive-In Movie Event. Don’t let the age range scare you because the older kids enjoyed helping out the younger kids and the younger kids look up to the older kids. It’s a win-win, plus the older kids can help out leaving you with less heavy work to do.
Plan ahead, gather supplies, and promote!
Be sure to plan ahead! Gather supplies that could be used to decorate a car. Get large cardboard boxes donated from a local store so you don’t spend a ton of money. Dunn Bros. Coffee was generous enough to donate the boxes for our program. Get creative with the supplies to enhance the car. For example, Paper plates make great steering wheels and tires. Cups can make awesome lights. . Things that you normally would count as junk may be a kid’s next treasure! I used the aluminium pans to make the front grill or to place the license plate in. Tops to sodas make great buttons and pipe cleaners can resemble windshield wipers. Find bumper stickers to customize their cars.
Promote your event as a drive-in movie where the kids will be making their own car to park at the movie. Create invites or posters with the drive-in theme in mind.
Before the event, set up your drive-in theatre any way you like (balloons, glow in the dark stickers, movie themed decor). We taped down and outlined parking spots and lanes along with an aisle for the carhops to serve popcorn and drinks. Next, cut out a square out of one side of the box to make it look like a car. Never let kids use razors to cut the boxes; Adults only when it comes to sharp objects. Do this before guests arrive so you aren’t stressed out. Plan your menu and what movie you will be showing to the kids. We picked Cars because we thought it fit the theme nicely!
Kids arrive and line up at the “DMV” to get their license made. Take the child’s picture in front of a wall and upload them to a computer. Later, when the kids are busy making their cars, you can sneak off (while the other chaperones are watching the kids – never leave children unattended) and insert their pictures into a kids drivers license that they can take home with them. Prior to the event date, ask someone creative to design the artwork for the drivers license.
Let the imagination soar!
Let the kids have free range on all the art supplies. Spread them out and organize them into different sections. Explain some creative ways that they can decorate and let them do the majority of the work unless they need your assistance. They will work hard and be proud of their car in the end. They were so engaged in this activity that I had no behavior issues and we almost ran out of time because they were having that much fun. Allow about an hour for them to decorate their car, but if they are highly engaged keep it going longer. Never interrupt innovation in progress.
Start your engines!
Once the children are done creating their dream car, ask them to line up with their cars. Explain to them that they are now going to “drive” to the movie and they have to “park” inside the lanes first-come-first-serve. Give the Green Light and explain that they need to go the speed limit or they might get pulled over by police. (I know this sounds cheesy, but the kids love to pretend). Once they all park, cut the lights and let the movie begin. Serve popcorn and pizza and let them eat it inside of their car. Trust me, they will not want to spill their food inside their brand new car.
The Drive-In Movie Kids Event was a huge success and there was not a peep out of the 30 children we had watching the movie. Even better, the kids were very excited and proud to show their parents what they created. I have parents telling me, a year later, that their kid is still playing with their custom cardboard car. Sometimes all it takes is a box, a few supplies and a huge imagination to spark children’s interest. Getting children to stay focused and engaged is a huge challenge especially in this day of media and technology craze, but I promise it can be done with planning on your part as a parent or a person that works with children.