In my home, sometimes we struggle to get conversation going at the dinner table. It’s the end of a long day, and I would love to know what’s going on with the kids. They may be so tired, they’re not willing to volunteer stuff that’s going on, or share exciting news.
I’ve found that playing games during dinner time, conversational games, can help kids to verbalize and share stuff from their day. Dinner games take the focus off the kids and put it on something fun. They’re also a teaching tool for parents interested in afterschooling their kids who have limited time.
I bought Dinner Games: serving up conversation and family fun by Mitzi of Written Reality at the end of July. Every day or so, we’ve been trying out a new game from the book. The games in Mitzi’s ebook are simple to implement. Do a quick once over before dinner as review, or bring the Kindle to the table to help you remember the questions. You can use some of the games to create your own family game like the Trivia game.
What’s in Dinner Games
Mitzi has organized the games in the book into 5 categories:
- Anywhere Games
- Games with a Few Props
- Bible Fun
- Trivia Games
- Bible Verse Printables (available at the end of the book as printables)
All of the games can be adapted to a range of ages and abilities, perfect for my 5 kids ages 6 up to 18. Mitzi shares 3 rules to ensure family fellowship:
- The dinner table is a Tech-Free Zone (I only bring the ebook on the iPad if I need help with remembering the questions.)
- Respect everyone’s thoughts and opinions.
- Conversations should be positive and encouraging. (As the parents, my husband and I are players and referees.)
Our Current Favorite Games
Sunshine/Stormy Weather Game
My kids love the Sunshine/Stormy Weather Game; it’s the most requested game in our family. This game has generated some funny conversations about exactly what is a positive moment and what is a negative one. A kid may feel like the existence of a brother or sister is a negative moment. We encourage our kids to pinpoint what it is that’s bothering them like a younger brother taking a toy they were playing with, or an older brother making fun of them. Naming something specific is more productive than a general statement of negativity.
In Dinner Games, Mitzi shares 2 versions of a trivia game; we tried both with our 5 kids. The American History Game worked well for the older kids since they knew some American History from school. The 6 and 7 year old enjoyed playing the animal game more. Overall, we had more fun playing the animal game since it generated a lot of conversations.
As a variation, I would ask one of the younger kids come up with their own trivia questions with some help from Mom and Dad. We could use a nonfiction book from school or google a favorite topic. Then, come up with about 10 questions and answers. The younger child can play expert at the dinner table and see if they can stump the older kids!
Take Dinner Games Everywhere
You can take these games anywhere. For a long car trip, you could prepare one game per hour in advance to break up the time spent in the car. As a Girl Scout leader, I could use the What If? game as an icebreaker when introducing new girls to an existing troop. I could also use the What If? game during a rainy day recess when the kids are stuck inside the classroom.
Family Night Resources
Family Game Night: Make Your Own Mini Pizza Bar