I grabbed up a bunch of my son's drawings and brought them to the kids' lunch table one Saturday.
My Plan: They were going to tell the story behind the pictures.
I set the rules:
I will show you a picture, and you get to tell me the story inside it.
We take turns.
Respect someone else's turn.
Your turn is as long as you want it to be.
Not your turn?
Stay seated and continue eating your lunch.
Listen to the story-teller, because when it is your turn, you will be adding onto the story, using the next picture as a guide.
I turned on my video app, gave a brief intro and cued my daughter to begin the first Lunch Story ever.
While the rule, stay seated and continue eating your lunch when not your turn, flew out the window, I couldn't be mad because they followed every other rule.
The jumping around, endless giggling, exaggerated volume, and saliva bursts were clearly indicators of engagement with the activity- what kind of a mom, teacher, writer, or human would I be to stifle that? There is no calming creativity like this once it is unleashed. So when the mac-n-cheese got cold and stuck to the sides of the bowl, all I could say was, "So what happened next?"
Thirty minutes later, Falling Bad Guys was born: an eight page story, written by two of my three kids, illustrated by my son.
The next day, I played the video back and typed up their story. I went out to the store and picked up a binder and sheet protectors. I slid the writing and illustrations into the book and presented it to the kids. They thought it was the coolest thing to see their work presented in a neat book like that. They proudly decorated the cover in sharpies, labeling it in bubble letters, "LUNCH STORIES".
The biggest obstacle in creating Lunch Stories was finding a way for my youngest child to participate. I tried to give her some video time during the first lunch story, but due to her young age and less developed speech, she was getting the short end of the stick. The following Saturday, I fixed this by using her paintings as illustrations during our Lunch Stories session. She was so happy to see her work included, and the abstract pictures really challenged her siblings to dig deep for a story.
Whether you are a writer with kids, or a stay-at -home-mom looking for a new activity, I highly recommend Lunch Stories. It is a way to not only strengthen your kids' literacy skills, but to strengthen your family's' bonds by creating together.