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Family Stories: A Meaningful Writing Project

Kids love to hear family stories over and over again, don’t they, though?  And every family has their own heritage of stories!

Some years ago, we idealistically bought a milk cow in an effort to improve our children’s health. We come from the city so caring for an animal, plus milking, was all new to us, and very foreign territory that took a great deal of time to get used to.  My good husband learned to milk, and milked that cow morning and night, with one of our sons in turn as a milking partner. It was a time-consuming job that made their hands ache.  My daughter Emily (9) was a happy little milkmaid and her older brothers would do all manner of job-trading and enticing to get her to milk in their place!  Since having a milk cow was not something we were accustomed to, the milking was slow-going. If the cow kicked over the bucket with even a little milk in in— it was very disastrous!

Well, one Sunday morning, the refrigerator was full to the brim with milk pitchers when Daddy opened the door.  He was freshly dressed in his nice dark suit, all ready for church. Suddenly, the gallon milk pitcher slipped out of his hands, bouncing and exploding onto the kitchen floor.  Whole milk is pretty creamy and slippery, and soon he was slipping and sliding, and the milk was gushing under the fridge.  What a clean-up ordeal! Attempting to keep his balance, Daddy grasped the nearest object, which turned out to be another pitcher, dumping a second gallon of milk on the kitchen floor, and all over his suit!  The saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk” took on new meaning for all of us that morning!

My friend Allaire has a great idea for getting her kids to write in her homeschool.  Each week, the children get to pick a favorite family story.  One of the parents retells it and then the children all write the story in their own words, in first person. The author signs their name to the story. It’s helpful to document who told them the story too. These stories can be illustrated with your children’s drawings of the event, or add original photographs if you have them.  Unfortunately, in our haste to clean up the enormous milk spill before church, we didn’t snap any pictures, as is often the case in such mishaps.  Thank goodness that crisis + time = humor!

At the end of the school year, these wonderful stories can be bound into a book which can be a family history record of the highlights of family stories. What a meaningful way to get children to write.  What a treasure to read and re-read, for generations to come!


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