Kids love to hear stories about themselves. Chances are you can remember dozens of stories about your children from when they were small tykes, like your son's first birthday party, your daughter's first joke, or when your youngest child had his first accident. Family memories are great launching pads for after dinner storytelling.
The power of memories is that they are deeply connected to feelings. That first birthday reminds us of joy. The first joke your child shared brings a feeling of happiness. And that first accident ignites the worry you felt.
The power in storytelling is connecting stories to feelings and one of the easiest ways to teach that to your kids is through sharing memories. Try this easy dinner table storytelling activity with your family.
What You'll Need
- A small basket, bowl or container
- Blank slips of paper
- Pens and pencils
What to Do
Step 1: Each person at the table brainstorms, and writes down on paper events in their life that trigger vivid memories. My list might include a bike accident that happened when I was seven, our holiday vacation in Florida, or the day my oldest son was born.
Step 2: Put everyone's memory slips into your basket and place it on the dinner table.
Step 3: Either during or after dinner, take turns selecting individual papers from the basket to read aloud. The person who wrote the memory down begins telling the story of the event. Others at the table can add to the story, telling their memories of the event if they were a part of it.
Remind everyone that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You might try prompting your children to expand their story with these prompts.
- What happened next?
- Where did your memory take place?
- Can you think of any more details about your memory?
Step 4: The real power of a story comes when it generates a connection through a common feeling. Make sure to ask each person around the table how he or she felt when the event occurred.
This storytelling activity could turn into a nightly or weekly family pastime, depending on how many memories were generated. The exercise also works well with larger family gatherings when other loved ones join you for dinner and conversation.
Pull up a chair and share memories with your kids. You will be teaching your children a powerful lesson about being a great storyteller, sharing family history, and instilling a love of family.
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