A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that interactive conversations build the foundation for communication skills and success in school.
Tips for talking to kids:
- Avoid leading questions (this includes the tone you use when asking).
- Ask follow-up and clarifying questions.
- Look for unexpected connections.
- Make conversation a habit—every night at dinner or whenever driving home from school.
If the answer doesn’t make sense on the surface, be inquisitive and keep digging. When you find the connection, it is usually more logical than you imagined! For example, in this video clip (9:41-10:04), a girl answers what impact joblessness has on a person’s frame of mind. She replies, “They won’t have any salt!”
This answer doesn’t seem to make sense until the interviewer clarifies why salt matters. The girl clears everything up by stating she believes a salt deficiency causes madness.
Conversation Starters for Kids
- What do you like to do when it’s raining outside?
- Who is the nicest person you know?
- What do you like most about your mom/dad/brother/sister?
- If you could make up a holiday, what would you call it, and what would it celebrate?
- Do you think it’s better to be funny or smart? How come?
- If you could rename yourself, what name would you choose? How come?
- What kind of person do you imagine when you hear the name Bertha? What about the name Amadeus?
- If you could live in a cartoon, what cartoon would you choose? Would you be yourself, or would you want to be one of the characters already in the cartoon?
- What do you think about the clothing styles today?
- What was the best present given to you?
- What is the hardest thing to do?
- What makes you angry?
- What happens during a day at work?
- Do you think it’s more important: to make a lot of money or to be happy at work?
- What do you think a rich person looks like?
- What do you do with your allowance?
- What is the most challenging job?
- What would you do with $100?
- What takes only a little space in your life but means a lot to you?
- If you could change the color of the sky, what color would you choose?
Having great conversation can be one of the best ways to connect with kids. Knowing what to say is one element, but knowing how to continue a conversation and end it on a high note is a skill you can take with you for life. Here’s how!
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Dinner Conversation Starters for Kids
- Describe yourself in 3 words.
- What makes you unique?
- What’s something you want to learn how to do?
- What was the funniest thing a teacher said today?
- Did anyone hurt your feelings or make you feel sad today? Tell me about it.
- Can you guess the ingredients in the food we ate?
- What’s the difference between playing alone and playing with your friends?
- What is something hard for you to share?
- Who is your favorite person at school? How come?
- Can you tell me about your P.E. class today?
- How many colors are in a rainbow?
- If you could go to another planet, which planet would you pick? What would you take with you?
- When do you feel the most loved?
- Are rich people friendly people?
- What’s your favorite place that we’ve gone to on vacation? What was it like?
- What is your favorite restaurant?
- Do you think people should have a second chance when they’ve done something wrong?
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Fun Conversation Starters for Kids
- If you could make everyone in the world smile, how would you do it?
- What is the strangest thing that grown-ups do?
- What is the nicest thing you’ve done for a friend?
- If you were a pirate, what would you do?
- If you could only choose to have water or electricity, what would you choose? How come?
- If plants could talk, what would they be like?
- If you had a secret room in your house, what would you keep there?
- What are mom and dad’s favorite things?
- What nicknames would you give everyone in the family?
- What’s your favorite outfit?
- What’s your favorite thing to cook?
- Tell me a story about something that happened to you.
- Describe the best day ever.
- What do you want to be when you grow up? How come?
- Tell me about the most extraordinary person you’ve ever met.
- Which is better—squishy toys or toys with wheels? How come?
- Who makes you laugh? What do they do that makes you laugh?
Holiday Conversation Starters for Kids
- What’s your favorite winter scent?
- What is your favorite holiday?
- Who is the best? Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or Cupid?
- What is your favorite Hannukah tradition?
- What is your favorite Kwanzaa food?
- If you could decorate the whole town with one color of Christmas lights, what color would you choose? Who would you ask to help you decorate the city?
- If snow could have a flavor, what would you choose?
- Would you rather carve a jack-o’-lantern or decorate Valentine’s cards?
- What’s your favorite holiday craft?
- What’s your favorite holiday memory?
- Which holiday song is the best?
- What is the best holiday cookie?
- If you could celebrate one holiday every month, which one would you choose?
- What is the funniest holiday movie?
- What holiday memory makes you feel happy?
- What holiday has the best school activities?
Silly Conversation Starters for Kids
- What would you do if you had 4 arms?
- Would you rather live in a box with a litter of cats or live in a tree stump with a badger?
- If you were a tiny mouse, would you be like Stuart Little or Desperaux?
- What would you do if you could fly?
- If you were in the circus, what would your act be?
- Make a silly song that starts with, “I have a little nose….”
- What fictional place would you like to visit?
- Who would be more like to win at rock, paper, scissors? An elephant, a cat, or a monkey?
- If rain could be another liquid, what liquid would you make it?
- Make up a story that includes a pair of gloves, a fork, and a football.
- Would you rather have a tail or fur?
- Would you rather hop like a kangaroo or run like an ostrich?
- If you could write a book, what would happen to your main character?
- Would you rather live under the ocean or in the sky?
- Would you rather be green like the leaves on a tree or blue like the ocean?
- Would you rather celebrate your birthday or your friend’s birthday? What was the best birthday food you’ve ever eaten?
- Would you rather be friends with a unicorn or a mermaid?
Animal Conversation Starters for Kids
- Which is better—books about dinosaurs or horses?
- What is your favorite movie with animals in it?
- What is your favorite book with animals?
- What is your favorite animal to draw?
- What animal do you think makes the best pet?
- If you had a pet giraffe, what would you name it?
- Why do you think people like to have fish as pets when you can’t hug or play with them?
- Why do you think people prefer cats or dogs?
- What is the funniest-looking animal? What is the cutest animal?
- Are there any animals that scare you? Which one(s)? How come?
- Would you rather ride on the back of a llama or a tiger?
- Would you ever want a praying mantis as a pet? What would you name it? What do you think the praying mantis is praying about?
- Can you name 5 bugs that have wings?
- Do you know how sometimes humans are allergic to animals? What would happen if an animal was allergic to humans?
- If there was a story about an elephant and a zebra, what do you think it would be about?
- If squirrels could talk, do you think they would have a high voice or a deep voice?
- What do you think it feels like to be a sloth?
Food Conversation Starters for Kids
- What’s your favorite comfort food?
- Pizza every day or chocolate every day?
- Should you dip fries in ranch dressing, ketchup, or ice cream?
- Brussel sprouts with chocolate sauce or broccoli and strawberry syrup?
- What’s your favorite birthday meal?
- What’s your favorite dessert?
- What was the best food one of your friends brought for lunch at school?
- Could you eat a whole pizza all by yourself?
- What food combination do you want to try?
- What fruit could you eat every day for the rest of your life?
- Can you name 3 red fruits?
- If you could change the color of strawberries, what color would you make them?
- What are the best pizza toppings ever?
- What is the best way to eat a hot dog?
- If you had your restaurant, what food would you serve?
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