Writing as a family is an excellent way to build meaningful connections. Why not give it a try with this hands-on, family notebook activity.
My husband and I used to write little love notes to each other and hide them in tiny spaces for the other to stumble upon. It was lovely and sweet and charming.
And completely forgotten when we had our first child.
Our communication skills continued to wither as more children arrived. Conversations revolved around children and; the things we used to talk about (hopes, dreams, goals) had gone the way of the dodo. It was all we could do to muster a “loveyougoodnight” after the kids’ bedtime ritual.
Clearly, we needed a change. If we couldn’t find time to talk to each other, perhaps we could go back to writing notes. Why not involve the kids as well? Our family notebook was born: a record of thoughts, a collection of conversations, and a scrapbook of toddler artwork that became an important tool for communication and a versatile creative outlet.
Want to institute a family notebook in your household?
Choose a moderate-size notebook with plenty of pages. 8 ½ by 11 works well; decorate the cover if desired.
Find a consistent writing location. A comfortable chair, good lighting and plenty of pens and pencils are essential.
Involve the family. Make sure everyone knows where the notebook is. Encourage them to write in it at least once a day. Engage one another in conversation by asking questions or commenting on entries.
Vary the contents of the notebook according to your household’s needs and interests:
Simple Messages: Write about where you’re headed, what you’ll do, and when you’ll be back. Did something amazing happen while you were out? Writing about daily occurrences in this way sets the groundwork for in-person dialogue.
Creative Tweets: Use your notebook for bursts of writing like character sketches, descriptive passages or short poems. Comment on with specific details about what you liked; share any questions you might have. This is a non-threatening way to share creative writing and elicit thoughtful responses.
Read and respond exercises: Practice critical thinking and expression. Provide a short quote or news item for your family to respond to, then have a written dialogue about the issue. Ask your family to add their own prompts. This helps develop reader-based prose – writing that expresses critical thought in a way that is clear to the reader as well.
Story Chains: A variation of collaborative writing, story chains in the family notebook spark amusing, original tales. One person begins by writing the first few lines of a short story or poem. Each family member takes a turn adding to the piece, continuing the chain until the narrative comes to a natural end.
Variations and extensions:
- Keep a family vacation journal
- Enhance the notebook with photographs and illustrations
- Revise, type and publish favorite pieces
- Archive volumes as living history for future generations
- Ask visitors to contribute to your notebook, giving your family a chance to read and respond to varying writing styles and opinions. Grandparents and extended relatives add a special dimension to the notebook’s contents.
We’ve loved keeping a family notebook over the years, and the older volumes are full of treasured memories. Let me know if you start one, too, and what joys you discover as a result!