If things at your house are anything like they are at mine, when the kids came home this afternoon, you likely asked them how their day went. And then you were likely given a brief, one word answer. Maybe you got something like “fine” “good” or “okay”. Or maybe you were even as lucky as I was today and the unintelligible grunt coming from the back seat had you checking your mirror to be sure you didn’t accidentally pick up a wild animal in the carpool lot.
Open and effective communication can benefit children in so many ways, but sometimes getting the kids to open up and communicate can be a tough job. But it doesn’t have to be! I love to find little traditions and fun little activities that increase communication in our family and help strengthen family connections in a fun and unique way. I came across this M&M’s game several years ago and we have had fun doing it when the kids go back to school. When we play this, we do it at dinner time, which I feel is a good time to do it. The kids have had some down time after school to process their day and are more open and ready to share and the whole family is together.
The “game” really is simple. All you’ll need are a pack of M&M’s and your choice of the cards provided. I’ve created a couple of different card options so you can choose your favorite, or play for several days and rotate the cards.
Playing the M&M’s Game
You can have each person pick a handful of M&M’s or you can simply give each family member a small amount of candies. You could place a small pile of them by each person’s dinner plate, or you could have them in a bowl and pass them around the table as you take turns. Really, anything goes. The first time you play, this can be a total surprise. Just ask the kids to take a handful of M&M’s. I bet you already know who “that kid” is – the one that’s going to grab the biggest handful possible. And guess what?! He’s the one that gets to answer the most questions!
Each person takes a turn picking up one of their candies and then finding the matching color on the card. They then have to answer that question. The questions are open ended, so ideally you’ll get more than wild animal grunts for responses. Use the questions as an opening and then ask for more details.
Add Some Variety
You can set your own unique rules to enhance the excitement of the game. Here are some suggestions to vary the game a little:
Each person must answer using a minimum amount of words (no one word answers!)
The person sharing must talk for a straight 30 seconds (set a timer!)
Each family member has to come up with a follow up question for the person to answer
To start playing, simply grab a pack of M & M’s, print out the 4×6 cards and start the fun!
Hopefully over time those grunts will turn into intelligible answers and the kids will enjoy sharing the details of their day.