Welcome to Plugging Into Your Kids from Direct Energy. In this series, we will share ways you can spend focused time with your children – specifically by unplugging from technology. We want to help your family make a conscious effort to connect with each other by avoiding electronic devices and enjoying some real-life interaction.
A picture can paint a thousand words, and it can also spawn a thousand stories.
We focus our attention in this installment of Direct Energy’s Plugging Into Your Kids by abandoning the use of films, video games, social media, and smart phones, and going back to old fashioned books and story telling.
Keep it simple, and follow along as we show you ways to plug into your children, via the simplicity and richness of stories.
Head to your local library with a large basket, and check out a bundle of books to bring home. Choose five for them, and allow your child to choose five of their own. Make a designated corner in your living room full of large plush pillows where together, you will curl up and read stories.
If your child is a teenager, then reading aloud may not be desirable. Instead, each of you choose a novel, and read silently, together. Children, even in their teen years, imitate what they see. If they see you reading, they may become more inclined to read as opposed to hanging out on social media.
Make the moment sweeter with a few glasses of lemonade!
Writing Poetry Together
Writing poetry is an especially fun game with young children. Think of a noun, such as a mountain, and have them say something silly about the mountain. Say it, and then add another line. The next person then repeats what the first and second person said, and so forth. You could also write down each line as you go around to keep a record of your oral poetry.
Another way to write poetry together is to use the Japanese poetry form of haiku. It uses seventeen syllables in three lines of five, seven, and five. It traditionally paints images of the natural world, so head into your yard, or do this at the park together.
Some believe that poetry is the strongest form of writing there is, condensing ideas and thoughts into a powerful parcel of words. Don’t overthink it, and keep it simple. Poetry could be as reflective as saying a few lines about your dog that day!
Building Stories Together
The tradition of oral story telling dates back to centuries ago. Where did those folks come up with the stories we hear of today?
Take time to share with your children a few stories from your own childhood. Their eyes will light up when they begin to learn that mom and dad too, were young kids. When visiting grandma and grandpas house next, make a point of having each of them tell a story when they were younger to keep this rich tradition alive. Even better, have them share a story about their great grandparent!
If you struggle to come up with a story out of thin air, here are a few ways to get started.
Do you collect postcards, or hold onto birthday cards each year? What about a box of photographs that you randomly toss in?
Use this visual “treasure box” for your child to pick out one photo, or one card. From the card, make up a story of what is happening.
An image of a landscape for example could become the backdrop to an elaborate story of pirates or fairies! A photograph of a family member could become a new character, completely separate from who they are! The possibilities are endless, but the important thing is that together, you and your child are entering a space for creativity and the sharing of ideas.
Making Picture Books Together
Begin by taking 4-7 pages of printer paper, and fold them in half. Put a staple in the middle to secure the pages. Using one of our ideas above, write your story into the pages of your homemade book, and together, illustrate it. Collaborative drawings can be so interesting, with your own style and that of your child’s.
Use a range of media from crayon to ink to marker for a variation of textures. You can also cut and glue pieces of fabric into your book. Or bring some realistic images into play by cutting life like images out of magazines and building your book using a collage technique.
If writing your story doesn’t interest you both, then illustrating the book alone can tell a tale that is open ended for anyone’s interpretation! Sometimes picture books can spring forth more imagination than stories written out for you.
Create a Puppet Show
Have you ever put on a puppet show with your child? Using a story from your life, or theirs, or one that you’ve made up along the way, gather some simple props, a couple of chairs, a blanket, and make a homegrown production.
Socks can become puppets, or spend an hour making drawings to stick onto sticks to make stick puppets. Gather a few instruments for added sound effects, and get silly. We promise it will be a memory to remember!