Spin the Bottle: A Fun Family Conversation Starter

The following is by contributor Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning.

How was your day at school? How many of us have asked this question to our children and received an ambiguous and uninformative response?

As parents we have an innate desire to connect with and understand our children, yet it can often seem difficult to come up with the right question at the right time.

The bottom line is sometimes we need a little help.

Family Conversation Starters

I have found that when you turn it into a game, children are often more willing to open up and take the time to ponder and thoughtfully answer the questions at hand. While there are a lot of innovative ways to bring about meaningful conversations, we recently tried a new (family friendly) take on the old classic game of spin the bottle.

Start out by preparing some questions and prompts. Try to incorporate some of the concepts you have been exploring as a family. Some hot topics in our household lately  have been related to being courageous, standing up for friends, and expressing gratitude. Over time the conversation starters can evolve and correspond with the various social and emotional issues that come up during the course of our daily lives.

It is helpful to use these light-hearted family times to explore the bigger concepts and issues that may be harder to discuss when emotions are running high. That little bit of distance can create a safe (neutral) environment where children feel comfortable talking about the things that matter most to them.

Here are some of the conversation catalysts we used…

  • Share a time in your life when you have been courageous.
  • Share a time when you overcame a fear.
  • Share a time when you helped someone.
  • Share a time when you witnessed someone in your family help another person.
  • What is something special about you?
  • What is something special about another person in this group?
  • Name three things that you are grateful for.
  • If you could make three wishes, what would they be?
  • What is one thing you could do to make the world a better place?
  • Talk about a time that you have stood up for yourself.
  • Talk about a time that you have stood up for someone else.

Print out the prompts that you created and put them in a bag or basket. There is something thrilling about choosing an unknown question that children get very excited about. Take turns spinning the bottle. Whoever the bottle points to is the person who chooses a piece of paper and responds.

It helps to keep in mind that these are just conversation starters. Make the most of each person”s turn by asking clarifying questions and sharing your own similar experiences. You never know what direction the conversation will take.

Children long to be listened to and the most valuable gift parents can give them is undivided attention, so go with the flow and enjoy!

More inspiration for family conversations…

How do you get the conversation going with your kids?

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  1. thank you for this post, Mariah. With my oldest there are times I can tell she wants to talk about something, but isn’t quite comfortable with it. I like the idea of using a parenting tool like this as a fun, yet safe and neutral way, to open up the lines of communication (and have a great time as a family!) 🙂

    Thank you for the list of conversation starters, too!
    Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Spin the Bottle: A Fun Family Conversation Starter

  2. thanks! gonna try it tonight 🙂
    yifat´s latest post: לא חייבים שום דבר.

  3. Great idea for getting conversations started! And thanks so much for offering a number of starter prompts and additional family conversation websites. Thinking up prompts is that part that may have derailed me if you hadn’t offered a little help.

    Along these lines, my family was given a fun game that gets at some of these same conversation topics from a different angle. It’s called Truth Be Told. It’s basically a bunch of statements beginning with “Truth Be Told”. “Truth be told the trait I’m most proud of in myself is…” Others have to write down what the card chooser’s answer would be, and she writes her answer as well. Surprisingly this game has not only been good for conversation starting, but also for supporting social/emotional intelligence skills, especially in my boys. If you can’t read another person at all, you have a very hard time thinking up how they would answer a personal question.

    Thanks again for your creative spin the bottle suggestions. I’ve been looking for more of these ideas for my family.
    Suzita @ playfightrepeat.com´s latest post: 6 Inexpensive Ways to Weave Exercise Into Your Kid’s Life – And New Reasons You (and Her Teacher) Will Be Glad You Did!

  4. These would make great journal prompts as well. Our daughter is only two but we host a junior high small group and some of these questions would be perfect for that. Thanks.
    Steph´s latest post: Stand Firm

  5. Thanks Mariah!
    With the kids nearing that “hard to talk” age I think it’s the perfect time to start this BEFORE it starts to get difficult! You’re ideas always keep me thinking, thank you!
    ~ joey ~
    ~ joey ~´s latest post: shadows

  6. I love this! I am just imagining years of playing this game as a family and then my kids hearing someone at a party say “let’s play spin the bottle” and the look of complete shock when they realize it’s not what they thougt. LOL
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds´s latest post: The Science of Home Management or In Which I Reveal My Geekiness

  7. Love your convo starters!! we like to change it up and have each person answer as if they were someone else in the family or in the world or in history, it really gets the wheels turning. If you are short on time and need the prompts in one easy place consider Thumballs(Disclosure: Yes it’s my company!) http://www.thumball.com

    I decided to manufacture a ball with talking prompts on them because no one has time to make things anymore and by putting them on a ball children got VERY motivated, attentive and wanted to play! Improvements in speaking, listening and social skills happened with ease!

    When we use Thumball at the dinner table we pass it instead of tossing it! All your readers can use the discount code APPLE and get 15% 0ff any order!! http://www.prestostore.com/catalog.php/catch32ball Continued success in all you do!

  8. I just love these. Every night, I try to engage my husband and our 4-year-old in conversation, but it usually ends up with one of the three of us being left out. Playing spin the bottle would make sure everyone is included. I think I’m going to start a little notebook of starter ideas to keep on the table.
    Tara´s latest post: AboutOne on the road:


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