Thursday, 17 February 2011

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Conversation Starters with Children


You want to spend time with your child, nephew or niece, but sometimes you don't know what to say or ask. Or you end up asking the same thing, and getting a one-word "yes" or "no" reply.

Conversation Starters

The book "The Power of Teachable Moments" suggested some topics and questions (page 65) which you can ask children between 11-14 years old to get the conversation going. For younger children, rephrase the questions in a way they can understand and be selective about the topics.

Family

• If you were to design a new house for the family, how would you draw it? (Or just them to draw the house.)
• If Jesus were your brother, how would He treat you?
• If Jesus were you, how would He treat (name of sibling)?
• What’s one thing you can do to treat (name of sibling) as Jesus would?
• If you were in charge of teaching the Bible at this house, what would you do?
• Do you sometimes feel like everyone is too busy for you? Tell me about that feeling.
• What do you do on the weekends?
• What are you looking forward to most this weekend with the family?
• What is your least favourite family activity?
• Are you happier at home or at school (or church or soccer practice; you get the idea)? Why?
• Tell me about a time when I did something you really liked. What did that feel like?
• If you could go on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
• If you had a million dollars to spend on a family vacation, where would you go and what would you do?
• My worst chore is taking out the garbage. Do you have chores to do at home?
• Do you like playing inside or outside?
• Describe your perfect day, from the time you wake up until you go to bed.

School

• Teach us one thing that you learned today that you think we don’t yet know.
• What do you love/hate most about your school?
• Who is your favorite teacher?
• If you were made a teacher for one day, what will you do? How would you have run this class?
• What was the __________ (choose one: funniest . . . most surprising . . . most predictable . . . dullest) thing that happened to you today?
• What was the nicest thing you did for someone else today? What was the nicest thing that someone else did for you today?
• Tell us three adjectives that describe your day today.
• With whom did you have lunch today?
• Did anyone tell a good joke today? What was it about?
• What is the best thing about your teacher?
• How does your teacher keep the class under control? Is it effective? What could he or she do differently? What would you do differently?
• Whom did you talk to today? What about?
• If Jesus were the principal at your school, what would He do?
• What was special about this school day that made it different from all the others?
• What could you have done today to make the day different for someone else?
• If you could get a nickel for every time you heard someone say something nice or a nickel for every time someone said something mean, which would you choose? How long would it take you to earn $100?
• What do you do best in school? How can you tell?
• What does it feel like to do something you like and to do a good job at it?
• If you could do anything you wanted at lunch, what would it be?
• Which one of the adults at your school is the kindest? What does he or she do that you like? How can you be more like that person?
• If you were a principal for a day, what would you do?
• How does school help you fulfill your dreams?
• In 60 seconds, tell us as much about your day as you can.

Friends

• Which student/friend is the kindest in your class or group of friends? What does he or she do that you like? Why do you want to be that person’s friend?
• Who is the least popular kid at school? What does that kid feel like when he or she is at school? What can you do to be a friend and a support to this kid?
• How do you treat that kid? How would Jesus treat that kid?
• If something really embarrassing happened to you, which one of your friends would be least likely to tell your secret? How do you know?
• If you all went to the mall together, which one of your friends might ask you to shoplift? Which one would be likely to say, “That’s wrong”?
• Who is the person at school least likely to get into a fight? Why did you choose that person? Would you like to be more like that person?
• Who are the Christians in your class? How can you tell?
• Where do you eat lunch? Who sits with you?
• Who are the three most important people to you? Did you talk with them today? What about?
• Who is the most unhappy person in your class or among your friends? How do you know? What can you do for that person?
• Which one of your friends will give you the best advice? Who did you choose that person? Would the advice be based on the Bible? If not, what would it be based on?
• What are your standards for choosing friends? Which of your friends comes closest to that standard? Which one is farthest from that standard?
• Do you want more friends? Why?
• What does it feel like when a friend lets you down? Will Jesus ever let you down?

Hobbies

• I like to paint. Do you like art?
• What sports do you play?
• Did you ever break a bone?
• Do you play a musical instrument?
• What is your favorite board game?
• What is your favorite book? What is it about?
• What are your hobbies?
• What do you like about your hobby? How does it make you feel when you are pursuing your hobby?
• If you could spend time on your hobby or go to church, which one would you pick? Why?
• If Jesus participated in your hobby, would He do it differently? How would He use the hobby to help others? How can you use your hobby to help others?
• Is there a way to make money from your hobby? What are they? How can I help?
• Do you spend enough time on your hobby? How much time would be enough? How much time would be too much? How do you make those decisions?

Church

• If you had your choice between your favourite movie or going to church, which one would you choose? Why?
• If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
• Tell me about a good time you had at church? How did you feel?
• Tell me about a bad time you had at church? How did you feel?
• If Jesus ran your Sunday School or youth group, what would He do differently? What would He do the same?
• What could you do to make church more interesting so that you would invite your friends?
• What about our church would appeal to your friends? What wouldn’t?
• Do your church friends love God? How can you tell?
• Do you like your church friends or your school friends better? Why?
• When you grow up, what would you like to do at church? What sounds fun?
• If Jesus moves to our city, would He attend our church? Why or why not?
• Do the people at our church love God? How can you tell?

The Media

• If you were writing a newspaper article about your day, what would the headline be?
• You are going to be alone on a deserted island for a year and you get to take one book/DVD/CD. What would you take?
• What movie character would you want to be?
• If you could make a movie, what would it be about?
• In the movie about your life, what actor would play you? Your best friend? Your family members?
• What is it about this form of entertainment that attracts you?
• Why do you like this particular style (or genre or show) more than others?
• Why do you listen to or watch that? (If it is simply because friends do, ask, “Why do your friends listen to or watch it?”)
• How does this form of entertainment make you feel?
• Do the themes reflect reality? Do they reflect truth? If they reflect reality, do they also gloss over evil?
• How do the messages conveyed compared with the values you have been taught here at home or in church?
• Do you think these messages have any effect on how close you feel to your family, friends or God? Why or why not?
• Would you feel comfortable if Jesus sat here listening to or watching this with you? Do you think He’d be concerned, or would He enjoy this particular entertainment product?
• Does this entertainment reflect an opinion about God? What is it?
• What would happen if you imitated the lifestyles and choices of the characters in these songs or this program?
• What do you consider to be inappropriate entertainment? Where do you draw the line? Where does Scripture draw the line? Are they the same?
• How does it make you feel to know that by purchasing a CD, going to a movie, or watching a TV program, you are supporting the ideas being promoted?

Others

• What was the __________ (choose one: funniest . . . most surprising . . . most predictable . . . dullest) thing that happened to you today?
• What was the nicest thing you did for someone else today? What was the nicest thing that someone else did for you today?
• If you were writing a newspaper article about your day, what would the headline be?
• Tell us three adjectives that describe your day today.
• In 60 seconds, tell us as much about your day as you can.
• Teach us one thing that you learned today that you think we don’t yet know.
• If you were president, name three things that you would change about the country right away.
• If you won the lottery (or won $100) what is the first thing you would buy?
• If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
• You are going to be alone on a deserted island for a year and you get to take one book/DVD/CD. What would you take?
• Describe your perfect day, from the time you wake up until you go to bed.
• If you could invent something that would make life easier, what would it do?
• If you were running for mayor, what would be your campaign platform?
• What movie character would you want to be?
• If you could meet a person from history, who would it be?
• Tell us the last joke that you can remember hearing.
• If you could be an Olympic athlete, what would you be?
• If you could go on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
• If you could make a movie, what would it be about?
• In the movie about your life, what actor would play you? Your best friend? Your family members?
• Do you like playing inside or outside?
• I love your jacket. Where did you get it?
• What is your favorite board game?
•  What is your favorite book? What is it about?
•  Who is your favorite teacher?
•  What sports do you play?
• Do you play a musical instrument?
• My worst chore is taking out the garbage. Do you have chores to do at home?
• Did you ever break a bone?
• I like to paint. Do you like art?
• What do you do on the weekends?


Question Structure - Begin with "Start Questions" then "Follow-up Questions":

Start Questions:

• Whom did you sit with at lunch today?
• What are your discussions about?
• What was the topic of the day?
• Did anything funny happen?
• Did anyone cry today? What about?

Follow-up Questions:

• When that happened, how did you feel?
• Why do you think that?
• What basis are you using to take your position?
• If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
• How would Jesus have done in that situation? Why?
• How do you think the other person felt?

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Additional Information:
I am so glad I have found this! I have got to list it down and file it in my electronic achive. It will come in handy the next time I travel to Singapore to visit my family. Going to Singapore is one of the most hectic things for me, with heavy family commitments, but one that I gladly do. But sometimes friends don't understand and feel hurt by why I don't have time to meet up.

I have a nephew whom I love and pray for. He is now 11 years old. He is suffering from ADHD. Since young, he has a lot of challenges socially and at school. When I am in Singapore, I try my best to invest whatever limited time I have in Singapore with him as much as possible. I want to start a conversation with him, but sometimes I run out of topics. I want to show him that I love him and care about him. It is not easy for him to make friends, and I have been praying for him for 11 years now. Finally God sent him a wonderful friend from Boys' Scouts. I am so happy to have found these ideas to start a conversation, which I will fine-tune to suit my needs.

It's soon midnight. Now I can go to sleep.

References:
The Power of Teachable Moments

http://www.suite101.com/content/dinner-table-conversation-starters-a23684

http://www.myfamilyminute.com/articles/viewarticle/index.php?id=359

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