Do your kids ever get in the car after school and you instinctively ask, “How was your day?” and they seem to answer obligatorily, “Fine.”? Or does that scene play out during dinner instead? Maybe dinner time is filled with some awkward silences or just the opposite – it’s filled with the arguments and whines of siblings trying to vie for your attention.
Several years ago, my moms’ group put together a little mason jar craft filled with 48 questions we could pull out and ask our kids in an attempt to get an answer that required more than a monosyllabic grunt. The questions were taken from a popular blog, where she described how her child’s teacher sent home a conversation jar that changed the way they were communicating (even with their tweens!). She re-named the jar, The Key Jar as she felt it was the key to unlocking a child’s heart and self-awareness.
I thought now was the perfect time to re-vamp this idea. Everybody is back to school, and before we fall into the rut of “how was school?”/”fine”, this is a great time to start the habit of teaching, or reminding, your kids that you’re here for more than just meal service and carpool, am I right? Let’s start the school year off right with some healthy conversation and good creative thinking.
I have gathered one hundred thought-provoking questions to include in this jar. Some are borrowed from that above-mentioned blog; others are gathered from other blogs and websites about communicating with kids and teenagers, and some I made up myself. All of them are great for kids anywhere from Kindergarten through high school. Even the adults at our table enjoy answering these questions!
This is how the jar works: one person picks a question at random from the jar, reads it aloud, and everyone takes a turn answering it. You may discuss his/her answer (asking other questions) as you see fit. The idea is that you get a peek into your child’s head/heart and everyone gets equal time to share their thoughts and feelings. When you’re done, the question gets put into an envelope for safe-keeping so as not to repeat it until you’ve finished answering all of the questions in the jar. Sample questions include, “If you could know something about your future, what could it be?”, “If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?”, and “Share about a time when someone said something kind to you.”
Our family makes it a priority to have dinner together in the evening, so we like to do this activity then… hence my little creative title, “Let’s Chew on This!” However, we don’t always get to it every night – sometimes the events of the day lend to enough conversation to get us through a meal. I understand “family dinner” is not always possible or reasonable with different work and extra-curricular schedules, so you may decide that a different time and place works better for you for this conversational opportunity. For example, the closed confines of a car is another great location!
You can find all 100 questions on a handy print-out → HERE ←. Just print, cut, fold, and stick them all in a jar of your choice. If you print on regular printer paper, they’ll fit nicely in a pint-sized mason jar. If you choose to print on cardstock (for a sturdier, longer-lasting version), they’ll fit better in a larger jar, like a spaghetti sauce jar.
I teamed up with a talented illustrator who designed these adorable lid covers for me/you. Just print, and cut out which circle choice you like best. They fit perfectly on a regular mason jar lid. (If you choose to use a spaghetti sauce jar, you’ll have to switch out the lids). Click here for the PDF; they’re sized just right.
I’d love to know what you think of this idea and if your family starts using the jar!
“Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6 (NIV)
2 thoughts on “Let’s Chew on This”
We have a set of these printed and LOVE THEM! We have kids ages 5, 7 and 10 and these conversation starters have become one of the reasons I can get my kids to come, and then stay at the dinner table. My kids feel so important and loved when they are being heard; and equally special, I’ve seen in them a growing desire to hear one another’s answers! We’ve had school friends over for dinner a couple times and my kids are excited to showcase this tradition, and inevitably the friend wants to keep the jar “in play” for the entire meal. Thank you for these!
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your experience. I'm so happy your family is enjoying the jar! That's exactly what we want: a desire to share and listen… and hopefully create some good memories (and manners). 🙂