Activities to do together in the family

In a family it is important that we together write our family story, especially if we are a family going through many transitions. To do this we need to share experiences, and tell each other about what we feel and think. That´s not always so easy. It might be easier if we can gather our family around some kind of activity. And for many of us it is easier to express ourselves by drawing or other creative ways, than by talking.

Under this section you can find some creative and fun ways that can help you to tell an create your family story. Have fun!

The Examen

In a family we can perceive what we are going through in so many different ways. A way to share each others experiences is to use the examen – some questions that help us to listen to each other, understand each other, and reflect over our lives.

These questions are from the book ”Sleeping with bread”, written by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn.

The questions are:

  • For what moment today am I most grateful?
  • For what moment today am I least greatful?
  • When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, to others, to God?
  • When did I have the least sense of belonging?
  • When did I give and receive the most love today?
  • When did I give and receive the least love today?

You can make up your own questions as well. The most important is that it becomes a time of reflecting and sharing.

The Time Line

Sometimes we are not really aware about how our lives actually have been. A good way to take a look at our lives, and tell each other our life story, is to draw a Time Line. Drawing a Time Line together as a family, can also be a moment when we share our stories with each other and let these stories be OUR FAMILY STORY.

Draw two 50 cm lines on a big peace of paper (or some regular size papers that you stick together) about 5 cm apart so you can color the space in between the lines. Mark every 4 cm, so 4 cm make one year. (If you want to count in inches, you can make about 2 inches space for each year).

Choose different colors for the places where you have been living, and color the space in between the lines with the colors that represent the different countries, year by year.

Then mark all significant episodes in your lives, such as the birth of children, sickness, death, accidents, moves, changing of school, any kind of losses or traumatic events, vacations, reunions  – whatever you feel is important. Draw pictures or add photos of houses where you have been living, schools, pets, friends, places you have liked and so on.

Then let each family member draw their own Life Curve above the Time Line, that shows peaks and dips during their lives. Sometimes we can see how our peaks and dips follow each other, sometimes we realize that someone in the family had a dip when every one else was on a peak, or vice verse.

Making the Time Line together in the family gives a great oppurtunity to share memories and to understand each other. When we share our memories we create our story together. We get a chance to laugh together and to cry together. It can help parents to understand their children – and to realize that some episodes of life that you remember are not in the conscious memory of the children, while some episodes that you have forgotten are very clear to the children. You have all your own memories of what happened. When we draw our timeline we get a joint picture of what happened, that brings us closer to each other. I have seen again and again that just drawing the Time Line together can bring a lot of healing to a family.

Keep the Time Line, and continue to add to it as life moves on. If all family member were not able to make it together the first time, invite them later to add their memories and their curves.

The Magic Truck

For children who have been through many transitions it can be very helpful to travel with The Magic Truck over the timeline! The Magic Truck can be filled with all things, people, pets, places, smells, views, sounds – yes whatever we miss from the places where we have been living.

Draw a big truck, or another vehicle, on a big paper, and draw or write in it whatever you miss from the different places where you have been living. Tell each other what it is you miss, and share the grief.

When you have filled the truck with everything that you miss, you can once again travel over the timeline with The Magic Truck, but this time you draw or write OUTSIDE of the truck what you are HAPPY and RELIEVED that you could leave. It can be an angry streetdog, a mean classmate, a car that never worked, or something else.

When we travel together with The Magic Truck, it becomes so clear to us what we miss, and it helps us both to be thankful and to grieve together. The most important for us is not to get or keep everything we want, but to be allowed to express what we wished and what we miss. Then we are ready to move on.

The Emotion Heart

Sharing emotions is an essential part of the family life. But sometime the emotions in a family are running around with such a speed that it is hard to catch them! A help can be to draw them.

Give a paper to each family member. Each one is encouraged to draw a heart, and then fill it with colors and/or symbols that represent the emotions of that person. Actually it´s not necessary to draw a heart, the paper can just be used as it is, and filled with different emotions.

Take time to share with each other what the different colors represent. Listen to each other, and acknowledge the emotions of one another. No emotion is wrong. Sometimes we don´t understand the emotions of the others, but knowing what the others feel can help us to live together in more peace.

The book about my life

One way to write my story is to make a book about my life. Take a folder, fill it with papers, and write a title on each page, like

  • My birth
  • My Dad
  • My Mom
  • My sibling
  • Other important people in my life
  • People who care for me
  • Friends
  • What I was like as a child
  • What I think other people think about me
  • Maps showing where I have been living
  • Pictures of places, houses, people and pets from different parts of my life
  • What I liked and what I did not like in the different places
  • What I put in my suitcase when we moved
  • What I miss fro the places where I have been living
  • My most happy memory
  • My most sad memory
  • What I like to do
  • What makes me happy
  • What makes me sad
  • What makes me angry
  • This is what I do when I am angry
  • What makes me scared
  • This is what I do when I am scared
  • Times when I feel different
  • What I do when I feel different
  • What I am good at
  • What I like with myself
  • If I could set up a new place, where I could include the best parts of every place where I have been living, this is what it would look like.
  • My highest dream.
  • Questions I have that no one can answer.
  • What I want my life to look like in 10 years.

You choose what titles you want to use. Write about what is important to you. A book about my life can help me to remember what I have been through, and that it´s all a part of my life. I can also use my life book when I want to tell others about my life.

My Universe

Where do I belong? Who do I belong to? During our lives we are belonging to many different peoples and groups. Nevertheless we might sometimes feel alone, or be unsure about where we actually belong. Then it can be helpful to draw a picture of my universe.

Take a big paper, draw yourself in the middle, as a planet, a star or something else. Around yourself you draw people who are important to you and that you have a sense of belonging to. It can be family members, extended family, friends, colleagues, people in organisations and so on. You can sort them in groups, or timewise or geographical. If you want you can connect those who know each other with lines. You can also draw those who are the most important to you closer to you.

When your paper is filled with your universe, take some time and ask yourself: Who are important to me right now? Do I want them to come closer? Are there people who are not that important to me any longer, that I want more distance to? Is there anybody that I am important to?

Important-to-me bracelet

One of the hardest things with moving is to leave friends behind, and to try to get new friends. Sometimes when in transition we might actually feel like we have no friends left. Then it can be helpful to make an important-to-me bracelet. You just choose some beads that symbolize the people that are most important to you, and thread them on an elastic thread. To fill up you can pick some neutral beads. If you don´t want to make a bracelet you can just make a string for your key or cellphone. Tell your friends that they now are following you on your wrist or in your pocket!

Ulrika Ernvik