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Family Night Language Arts Activities

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Family night activities benefit parents and kids, according to therapist and father of eight Hamlet Smith, in a 2009 article in the "Register-Herald" in Beckley, West Virginia. You can use the time to strengthen your family, impart character lessons and increase your influence in your child’s life. Language arts activities can benefit your child academically by working on literacy skills such as vocabulary, organizing stories and writing tools.

Writing

If the only thing you get in your snail mail box is advertisements and bills, make that trip to mail box more exciting by writing and mailing letters to family members. It is sometimes easier to express emotions through writing, so writing letters can also open the door to dealing with emotional topics such as apologies and sharing feelings. If you don’t want to support the postal service, set up a box in your home where family members can drop off letters. You can also create a family newsletter to keep extended family aware of important events. You also can create a family memories book, using pictures of events that your family can write about to preserve the story.

Reading

Many people enjoy a story, so share a book together. Choose a topic or favorite book and read through it as a family during a period of days or months. Set a goal to read a specific number of books during the year or choose a book of short stories and set a goal to read one story per night. Alternatively, read stories written by family members and let the author take his or her bow and applause. You could also listen to books on tape or radio story programs such as “The Moth,” Focus on the Family’s “Radio Theater,” “Cabinet of Wonders” or programs from Family Theater Productions. After the radio show, you can talk about what you heard, critique the program or post a review on the Internet.

Dramatize It

Your family can become part of the story when you dramatize it. You could use scripts out of your child’s language arts text book, scripts you find in the library or write scripts of your own. Encourage your family to fully engage with costumes, props, sound effects and changes in delivery when a family member plays more than one character. If you have small kids, use puppets to tell the story. If your family is adventurous and creative, write a few scenarios on scraps of paper and toss them in a bowl to start an improvisational skit. If you find you have a flair for dramatized family nights, set up the web cam and share your family night with extended family.

Storytelling

Before reading and writing were common skills, parents shared wisdom with children through storytelling. Return to the days of storytelling using creative activities such as serial stories where one member holds the talking stick and begins the story with a few short sentences. He passes the talking stick and the story to the next member who adds to the story before passing it on to the next person. Use a timer to limit the length of time a family member has to tell his part -- if you have a long-winded family member. Alternatively, use pictures of people doing funny things and create the back story or caption for the picture. For another option, hand out information about improbable or silly products and challenge family members to sell the rest of the family on buying the item received.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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