As kids get older, it becomes harder and harder to get everyone together at the family table for dinner at the same time. From athletic practices, evening classes, homework—you name it—schedules fill up fast, and sometimes it's impossible all sit down at the same time for a meal. But when the kids are young and the schedules align, this time together is so precious, and it's worth it to spend a minute planning not just the food but the conversation!
We put together a few games that our own ACTIVE families have enjoyed around the dinner table. From imaginative play and learning games, to fun twists on finding ways for family members to share details about their day beyond "it was fine," we're sure you'll find something here to try out at your next sit-down meal with your loved ones of all ages.
Does your family have a favorite dinner game or conversation starter? Share with us in the comments below!
Using vocabulary cards to encourage family dinner conversation may require a little bit of extra prep, but the laughs and learning that will come from it will make it worthwhile. All you'll need is to select some words appropriate to challenge your young ones, and write each with their definition on separate cards. At dinner, each family member picks a card with the challenge of working their word into the conversation without anyone else noticing! It's a great way to talk, listen and learn together.
The Alphabet Game
The alphabet game is a quick-and-simple way to keep the conversation moving around your table. Anyone can start by naming an object that starts with the letter "A." The game continues clockwise, naming objects in alphabetical order. With 26 letters in the alphabet, you can run the game multiple times so everyone will have different letters to match with a word. This adds a fun memory challenge as everyone tries not to repeat the words said for their letter in past rounds.
What Was Something That...?
We've all found ourselves in disappointing dead-end conversations around the table. Jump to something specific (a family secret in many households): What was something that made you laugh today? What was something that made you say, 'No way!' What was something that made you feel [fill in with emotion]? The questions will start the conversation to get kids sharing personal narratives and observations about their day, which we all know can be especially hard to get out of older kids.
Two Truths and a Lie
A common "getting to know you" game, Two Truths and a Lie can be spun into a game that gets everyone sharing and learning about each family member's day. Each person tells three things about their day: two that are true and one that is false. Then, everyone tries to guess which of the three shared stories isn't true for each person. It's creative, engaging and provides yet another way to jump right to the details about what went on in the lives of our loved ones while each was away at school or work.
I Can Top That
This is a fun improvisational game common in the theater arts that is sure to stretch everyone's imagination and get your family laughing. It begins by someone sharing a made-up observation that includes a noun and a verb phrase. For example, "I saw 10 elephants climbing up a ladder." Then, anyone can say, "I can top that!" and must follow immediately with and "I saw" statement that includes either the same noun/subject of the original sentence and a new verb phrase, or the same verb phrase with a new noun/subject. The sentences get very silly, making it a game sure to have the family laughing together.
A Never-Ending Story
Every story begins with a sentence...or a word! To play this game you must decide if you want to build a story together one sentence at a time or one word at a time. The goal is to build off the previously shared words or sentences to build a story as a family that can keep going until you find a good resolution or wrap up the meal. If you play with one word at a time, punctuation like periods, exclamations and question marks can be played as words to end a thought and begin a new one.
Table Topics Cards
Finally, sometimes all we need to get a good table conversation going is the right question. TableTopics.com has a wide variety of packs to help with this exact need. Click here to check out the family edition card set that includes questions like, "If you had three wishes what would they be?" and "What is your favorite thing to do at recess?" There's also a wide array of "would you rather questions" that are perfect for parents and kids.
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