May brings so many mixed emotions. Excitement builds as summer vacation inches closer and closer each day. Exhaustion weighs us down as we rush from one end of year program and activity to the next. Our calendars are full, and we try our best to squeeze in as many last events as possible to wrap up the school year. In the midst of stacks of Uhaul boxes, finding moments to relax as a family has been a needed rhythm to keep our sanity while wrapping up the end of the school year and our time in Bolivar. One way that we have found some much needed family bonding is through our love of all things home improvement, design, and building. Whether we are watching Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper:Welcome Home or Fixer to Fabulous with Dave and Jenny Mars, when it’s time to pile onto Mom and Dad’s bed and tune into our favorite shows, everyone eagerly is engaged in the process.
When thinking about our children’s perspectives as we watch these home improvement shows, I realize how each of our children brings a beautifully unique perspective. Mackenzie is our future architect and designer. She loves to watch each episode with the lens of how the homes are structured and how she might tweak the designs to fit the clients needs differently. Juliana is our kitchen girl-she is always thinking about the kitchen layout and how the flow might work more effectively with meal prepping. Ethan is our future builder. He loves to think about the products the construction crews are using and changes he might make in the building process. Kaden is our upgrade boy. He is always thinking about ways to make the home more safe from villains with moats, security cameras, traps, and guards. He has such a fun imagination! So far, we haven’t seen any episodes with moats, traps or guards, but maybe those upgrades are still yet to come.
Thinking about the conversations that come from their varied perspectives makes me realize how beautifully these TV storylines allow us to grow our thinking during family discussions. The kids compare and contrast the designs and materials and think through pros and cons of using the different products. They are inspired by what they see and think about how their preferences are growing over time about what designing and remodeling houses might be like.
As I sit back and listen to their conversations, I realize how watching these home shows together as a family is more than just relaxing for an episode. The kids are growing their elaboration skills in a beautiful, organic way. They are using the same sentence starters that we use in reader’s and writer’s workshop when they are discussing home designs. Many of the ways they share their ideas could also be used when they are writing to elaborate on their thinking or during book clubs to debate their thinking. Here are my favorite “go to” sentence starters to empower our kids to elaborate on their ideas:
- The important thing about this is…(This sentence starter helps kids determine importance-this helps with both finding the main idea.)
- An example of this is…(This helps children elaborate on their main ideas.)
- To add on… (This one is so helpful with growing ideas as a family. It causes us to be an active listener to our siblings and grow ideas based off of their original thoughts.)
- I used to think…but now I think that…(This sentence starters helps kids recognize that their thoughts change over time.)
Let’s give it a go:
- The important thing about this is finding moments to reconnect and bond together through a shared experience and noticing that teachable moments happen in our everyday lives..
- An example of this is last week our family sat down to watch an episode of Rock the Block. We saw Dave and Jenny Mars install a slide in their playroom. All of the Dace kids voted that they wanted to try to convince Nathan to install a slide in the playroom when we build our house.
- To add on, they also want to convince Nathan to put in a second set of washer and dryers in the primary bedroom’s closet like Leslie Davis and Leslie Lamb did in their Rock the Block home , because Mom does a ton of laundry each day and could finish her chores faster with a second set of washers and dryers, so she could spend more time with the kids relaxing.
- I used to think that teaching our children reading and writing skills needed to be a formal set of lessons, but now I think that teachable moments are all around us if we pause to notice them. When we are more relaxed our brains not only are ready to take in new learning, but we can also grow closer as family through the process.
Friend, as you think about your family’s favorite shows, which of these sentence starters might you try out with your children? For parents of young children, we can start modeling these sentence stems as we talk about the shows, and before we know it, our children will start using the sentence starters, too. Growing our skills as readers, writers, and communicators can happen all throughout our days. Let’s keep our eyes open to how we can continue to empower our children to grow academically and build stronger family bonds at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!