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Dinner Conversation Jars: Getting To Know Your Family During Dinner

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What is it about kids that makes them clam up when you ask them how their day went at school or work? Seriously! Why wouldn't they want to tell you everything? When my eight year-old just shrugs his shoulders and answers, "I dunno" to my question of "How did school go today?" I don't think he realizes that I'm asking, "You've been away from me for 6+ hours. Have you used your time well and have you had fun?"

This is apparently a fairly common problem, but some experts say we, as parents, should strive hard to overcome this problem, particularly over the dinner table. Have you ever heard of doing a Dinner Conversation Jar as a remedy?

This is an idea I came across on As I researched, I realized that this is one of those common sense ideas that is already the staple of many mom blogs. It is essentially that you, and other family members if you so desire, write down a bunch of open-ended questions on little slips of paper and put them in a mason jar, to be opened and read one- or two-at-a-time, at dinner. It is a way of making conversation fun, not interrogational. It is a way of centering together, of taking a moment to relax and engage together.

Alison Prince of Kaysville, Utah is the mom who not only featured the idea on FreshTakes, but also provides lists of sample questions on her blog HowDoesShe. They are questions like: “If you could pick your own name, what would it be?” or “What do you think of my driving?” Others are more serious: “What punishment have I given you that you thought was really unfair?” and “What kinds of lies do your friends tell their parents?”

Some of the questions include science trivia. She remembers asking the family, “How many stars are in the sky?" Her toddler and preschooler both said "three." "And they were pretty sure of it,” Alison says. “It’s funny to know even a  three year-old, in their own mind, thinks they’re right.” Jennifer Schmidt of also provides a good list.

How To Make a Dinner Conversation Jar

Alison offers the following instructions if you want to make a conversation jar of your own:

  1. Choose any large jar or basket to fill with questions.
  2. Find potential questions through online searches, or just write your own, maybe getting older kids to write questions too.
  3. Rotate among your family who gets to draw a question each night.
  4. Write down some of the best responses for posterity.

When I make the Moesser Family Dinner Conversation Jar, it will include questions unique to us, such as "If you could buy any remote control vehicle today, what would it be?" and "What's your favorite thing/least favorite thing about boating?" I'm sure those questions will evoke more than shrugged shoulders.

What questions will you include in your Dinner Conversation Jar?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Disclosure: This post is a part of an incentivized online influencer network for Fresh Takes on Family Time Powered by Subway. Pictures are courtesy of and Flickr. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

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