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Dinnertime is Storytime

Posted Feb 27 2013 8:25am
How to make up dinnertime tales with your kids (Keeping Mommy Sane)

As a writer, I like to consider myself a storyteller. When Buddy was small, we would sometimes make up stories at bedtime, rather than selecting a tale from his vast library of Dr. Seuss and Little Golden books. And it appears he is a chip off the old block.

A few months ago, Buddy was sitting around with his grandma and aunt and they started playing a game in which they went around and each took turns adding to a story that Buddy started. It was kind of like a round robin or the game “Telephone.”

I was busy cleaning the kitchen or chasing after Mimi, so I didn’t participate, but every so often I’d pop my head in and smile, listening to how the story grew and grew, becoming more outrageous – and entertaining – at every turn. More impressive was how my son contributed to it, by adding nuanced details or changing the story arc. I realized that this simple game was a fun way to  stimulate his imagination and creativity, along with being an awesome parent-child bonding activity. Later on, I learned storytelling has been shown to help with a child’s development and reading skills.

Now this has become one of our favorite dinnertime activities. However, there are some strict rules.

  1. Buddy has to start the story.
  2. Said story usually begins in one of three places: a pirate boat, outer space or a rocket ship.
  3. Buddy decides when the story has ended and is the only one who can declare, “The End.”

And Dr. G. and I have settled into out storytelling roles as well. He is good at keeping the story going when we get stuck or backed into a corner, which tends to happen with our more intricate plots. I, on the other hand, am responsible for throwing the curveball. For example, his old daycare teacher made a cameo appearance in one of our recent tales about a group of pirates (naturally) looking to steal the treasure that Miss Deb had hidden in her car (which was a flying car, of course). Not only did a get a huge belly laugh from Buddy, but it also got his creative juices flowing, and we were able to keep the story going for a few more rounds. 

My other favorite part of this game? I love how it allows us to actually  communicate with each other at dinnertime, whereas before, I’d ask Buddy about his day and he’d tell me basically nothing, other than the fact that recess was fun. But when we tell our stories, he’s engaged and animated and chatty.

Want to try this with your kids, but stumped on how to get started? Here are some tips. (Like them? Pin them to your Pinterest board!)

  First Anniversary of the  Total Joint Center at The Miriam Hospital 2012

And round robin storytelling isn’t just for campfires … or dinnertime. Try it when you’re on a long car ride or waiting in line at the grocery store. Use people or items that you see around you as inspiration.

I’d love to keep this up as long as we can and can eventually bring Mimi into the game. It’s my hope that they’ll remember the time we spent talking in silly voices, making up crazy characters and telling tall tales.

Do you make up stories with your kids?


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