Here’s an idea we recently came across which the whole family loves. Oh sure, we got groans from the kids when we announced what we were playing. But once everyone got started, things got really quiet, and by the end everyone wanted to play more! (And we still do!)

Writing prompts!

The idea is simple. Everyone gets some lined paper. At the top everyone writes a sentence and a half. It could go something like this:

* “The man sat in the boat and cast his fishing rod into the water. All of sudden he felt a tug, and when he started to pull …”

* “Melissa and Gary were tossing the ball back and forth walking home from the park. On one errant throw, the ball went over the fence and …”

* “Candace got to work early and began to make the coffee. She looked around, and noticed that …”

* “The Queen woke up in the middle of the night. She heard a voice at her window, which seemed odd because …”

Then everyone switches sheets, and has to finish the story. You’ll be surprised what people come up with. Stories that start off like a banal day tend to end up with vampires, aliens, faeries, police chases, etc. This kind of play allows kids to be uber-creative. Encourage them with silly stories of your own, or twists that the kiddies might not expect. (Luckily they probably haven’t seen much Twilight Zone, Hitchcock, or Shyamalan, so feel free to “borrow” for your stories.)

Once everyone is done (it’s best to keep the stories short), have everyone take turns and read their story. Bonus points if they act it out with different voices or dramatic pauses. Now’s the time to channel your inner Shatner (or better yet Patrick Stewart), and ham it up. The kiddies will likely follow suit.

The best part of this game? It’s got learning built in! Play once or twice a week, and that might be more creative writing than they get at school! It’s great for the summer as well. Or while at a restaurant waiting for dinner. Honestly don’t be surprised at how much your kids will like this. It gives them an outlet to be creative in whatever way they wish — funny, sad, zany, serious, assertive, etc. You’ll see their personality really shine.

What to do with kids that are too young to write? No worries. Bust out the crayons (or markers, we’re not picky) and read the top line to them. Have them draw their story and tell it, just like everyone else.

Let us know if you’ve tried this, and share some stories with us!