Storytelling Game for Kids: Interviewer

Create memory making moments and build storytelling skills for kids this summer. Breaks from routines give us more time together, and what better way to use that time than by encouraging our kids to tell and share stories - their own, ours, and our families.

Try this games on road trips, around the campfire, back at the house after a long day at the beach, or during an afternoon at home when you start to hear the murmur of “I’m bored.”

Interviewer

Kids of all ages love to hear what the adults in their lives were like when they were their age. Gather around (or sit down with your kiddo if it’s just the two of you) and have your child ask the adults some interview questions about what life was like for them.

Questions to Ask

When you were my age, what was your favorite song?

What was your favorite thing to do when you were my age?

When you were my age, what did you do on summer vacation?

What was the hottest topic in the news the summer you were my age?

If you could choose to be a kid now or when you were growing up, what would you choose? Why?

Document Stories

Encourage your kids to record the answers. Write them down or set up the phone to record audio like a “real” interviewer.

Consider turning the interview into a project. Your kids could write up an article, prepare a presentation, or come up with other creative ways to document the stories family members share with them.

This shouldn’t feel like a have-to-do homework assignment. There are so many fun ways to get excited about documenting family history and family life. You will all be surprised to see the kind of connections, excitement and ideas a simple game like this can create.

Happy storytelling, friends. And happy story sharing, too!

Lucky Summer

I wonder if it’s because the moments in summer tend to be a bit longer, that we want to hold onto them even more. The rush to get out the door slows down. If we’re lucky enough to get some time off with our families, the destination becomes the beach, the pool, or a treasured family home, rather than work and school.

Photo E Eames

Photo E Eames

The days are longer and brighter this time of year. And it seems as if our eyes bend a bit to that lens. We look for the brighter, longer moments. We feel the need to hold onto this time of year because it feels at once apart from our daily lives and essential to the lives we are working so hard every day to build for ourselves and our children.

Summer is the time, too, when (again, if we are lucky) we get to reconnect with extended family and not-often-seen friends. We share meals, and drinks, and adventures with the people who make us who we are, make us glad to have this life to celebrate. Even though, often, these are not the people with whom we share the bulk of our lives. We share the bright days with them. The memory making days.

Photo by E Eames

Photo by E Eames

All of this makes summer a unique time for us at Portraits that Move. So much of our mission is to celebrate the every day. The moments between these milestone days. All the days and days worth of moments that got your son or daughter to this summer day when their great aunt marvels, as if on cue, at how much they have grown.

For us, as we continue our mission of celebrating our shared moments and documenting our mundane and marvelous lives, we look at this season of milestone moments - the family trips, the camp letters home, the plans for the coming school year and Mitzvah season - and we recognize that nature is helping us do our work in a pointed and beautiful way. It is brightening the light. It is setting the stage. It is giving us all a little extra time to recognize and celebrate the moments that we create and the moments that find us, if we are lucky enough.

Summer Snaps with Portraits that Move!

We’re sharing Summer Snaps throughout the season to help us remember to be mindful of all the moments the season has to offer.

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For us, this is a fun way to share our mission to celebrate every moment because every moment matters. And it’s a great way to stay in touch with each other and gather joy from our collected adventures, discoveries, and quiet moments in time during one of the most beautiful seasons of the year.

Photo by #PTMsummersnapper  @elizabeth.eames

Photo by #PTMsummersnapper @elizabeth.eames

So, take us along on your adventures! Snap a photo and share on Instagram. Tag @portraitsthatmove #ptmsummersnaps so we can all celebrate together. If we all join in, the PTM Team will launch a special contest with a super fun promotion in August… so stay tuned, and start snapping!



3 Ways to Create Memorable Moments that Build Confidence and Communication Skills

Every moment matters, and during the summer, we (ideally) have a little more time to share moments and make memories together.  To celebrate the official start of summer in New York City, we are sharing three ways to create moments that foster conversation, engage creativity and create space for your children to connect with you and with others, and to share their stories and ideas with confidence.

Write to a Summer Pen Pal

Sit down with your child to choose a pen pal to write to throughout the summer.  Your child might opt to write to a friend from school who is away at camp or on vacation, a grandparent, a cousin, or someone special in their lives.

Writing to a pen pal, whether it is through snail mail or email, gives your children the opportunity to express themselves, to share their stories and relay their observations.  Receiving mail (especially traditional mail) is exciting for kids.  It gives them something to look forward to, teaches them about delayed gratification, and shows that someone took time to listen to, care about, engage with and respond to their words.  This is a powerful gift that builds confidence and helps your children develop their voices.

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Make sure that you know and trust the person with whom your child is communicating before embarking on a pen pal project.  If your child is corresponding by email, review cyber safety rules before logging on, and confirm that your child has the correct address for his/her pen pal.

Start a Family Book Club

A family book club is an ideal way for kids to connect with parents and siblings.  It gives you a shared activity to do together that revolves around observation and communication – key elements of meaningful moments shared through stories (both those you read and those you tell).

Take turns selecting a book for the family to read and discuss.  Let your kids pick the books first so that they can share something they love with you, and can lead the initial book club discussions.  A family book club helps with skill building during the summer (we see you, Summer Slide) but even more, it creates a pathway to conversation.  Book clubs are safe spaces to connect over ideas and events that you read about.  Inevitably, this gives your children the comfort and the confidence to talk about issues or concerns they face in their own lives in a way that feels more natural, and more open, than direct questioning about how they are doing or what they are feeling on a given school day afternoon.

Consider holding each of your book club meetings in a different location – the living room, in the backyard or out in a park, in one of your children’s bedroom to allow them to play host.  Changing your environment helps to set different tones for conversations and can make those conversations flow more energetically.

Put a New Spin on Old Games

Reinvent Game Night in your home by kicking up the creativity and re-imaging favorite games based on your child’s or your family’s favorite hobbies, characters or teams.  Our list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start!

Minecraft Charades

Played like traditional charades, but with categories unique to Minecraft, this serves as the perfect way to bring your kid’s screen life into real life.  Your kids will be happy to take the lead on this one, sharing their insight on their favorite game.  You will learn more about something they love and why they love it.

Giving children the opportunity to be experts on something creates memorable, enjoyable moments for your family.  It also gives them the chance to flex their leadership skills, to build confidence, and to realize that they have things to teach you and that you are willing and open to learn from them.  That is the hallmark of open dialogue and good conversation in families.

Character Tic-Tac-Toe

Create a tic-tac-toe game that replaces the Xs and Os with your child’s favorite storybook characters.  To make the pieces, your kids can draw or print out images.

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During the making and playing process, you will be amazed to see how your child begins to talk about the characters and the stories, why they like them, what happens in the stories, and how they connect to their own lives.  Children are natural sharers and they love to welcome us parents into their world.  The busy pace of life often makes that difficult, but slowing down even for a moment to share a simple project and play a simple game like this can be the missing piece of meaningful, simple connection that we often struggle to find.

Build Your Own Chess Set

Ideal for older children or larger families, building and playing with a customized chess set can be a fun, creative summer long activity full of moments for the whole family to enjoy.  Using items found around the house, from the recycling bin to the craft closet, build a chess set around a theme your family enjoys.

You might make a set based on rival baseball teams, characters from favorite TV shows or movies, or places that are special in your family history.  Once again, the act of making the pieces and the game board is full of opportunities for communication and connection.  Working on a creative project together forges your bond as a family and builds your child’s leadership, listening and teamwork skills.

This summer, take as many moments as you can to try activities like these to give your children the space they need to connect and share with you, and to give yourself the gift of time well spent.

- Elizabeth Eames, June 2018

Maybe the fact that we can't slow down time is not a bad thing

Often as my son heads back to school, I am reminded of the "what I learned on my summer vacation" assignment.  Since I am always looking for new ways to tell stories and learn lessons from my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I explored the question for myself.

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The answer might be a bit surprising, and I am excited to share it with you and to hear your thoughts.

What I learned on my summer vacation is this: maybe the fact that we can't slow down time is not a bad thing.

The speed at which time moves, which seems to feel even faster for parents, as we all can attest, reminds us that these moments are worth preserving, remembering and returning to for glimpses at what was and clues into what is to come.

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On our annual trip to Cape Cod, it struck me how much my son has grown over the year since we last visited our favorite place.  His observations, insights and interests have changed so much.  It made me nostalgic for the moments we have shared - the times when he needed to hold my hand on our hikes, the times before he was able to swim on his own.  At the same time, I felt proud to share this life with him, proud of who he is and who he is becoming. 

I can picture him now bringing his own family here, telling me stories and making me laugh, as he has always done so brilliantly.

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This is why, for me, documenting moments so that we are able to return to those stories, those jokes, those moving images of our lives up to this point is such a unique and beautiful gift.  All of those moments have led us to the here and now and they pave the way for the future.

As I celebrate change and look ahead to growth and opportunities for my family, I am all the more grateful to have small, treasured moments in time that I am able to view and to share.  I see now so clearly that our story is woven with what was, what is, and what will be, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to leave even one chapter of that story undocumented and uncelebrated.

Getting Back on the Bike and a New School Year

While on my summer vacation, I decided to do something I had not done in over twenty years. I rode a bicycle.

I am not sure why I ever stopped riding, I loved it as a kid and often rode throughout my suburban neighborhood. It became one of those things where, the longer I went without doing it, the more fearful I became. I am not clear on what I was afraid of exactly. It was not an active pervasive fear, more like something I just did not think of doing.

back to school bike ride

In any case, I LOVED IT!!!!  The joy I felt in the freedom of coasting with the wind in my hair was immense. I felt like a ten-year-old again. It made me want to buy a bike and to spend more time feeling that freedom. I giggled and the satisfaction of overcoming my worries was powerful.

It also got me thinking about other fears that are subtle. And transitions. This time of year there are plenty of both for our children and for us. Our children may have anxieties about new grades, homework and routines. And if we are being honest, we likely have our own anxieties. How will it all go? Will the new schedule work?  Will the re-connection with friends be smooth? Perhaps we have anxieties about our children growing up too fast. I certainly do.

bike path back to school

We need to push through these fears, to ignore them and release them. We need to get back on our own bikes of freedom and enjoy the moment. Be present, share in the joy, be fearless. It will be worth it for them and for us.

I wish you all immense ease with the beginnings and transitions of this academic year. And if you need me, I’ll be on the bike path giggling with my son. 

What's in a Name: Why We Are Portraits that MOVE

We took care in coming up with the name for our documentary style family film business, and Portraits that Move is just right.  

Of course, there is the obvious - our portraits of your babies and your children reveal who they are in ways that photography, baby books and memory journals can't.  Because we are filmmakers, we are able to give you the gift of your children dancing, singing, telling their favorite stories, and moving through their space as it is, and as they are right now.

portraits that move filmmakers

 

But there is something more about this idea of moving.  As parents, as families, we are always moving.  Even when we stop to savor the moment, we are aware that these moments are as fleeting as they are wonderful.

As we enjoy the last days of summer, the family time, the adventures, and the discoveries they bring, we understand that we can't stop.  We can't stop our children from growing and changing.  We can't stop the summer from turning into fall and the learning and growth it will bring.  And we would never want to.

back to school video portraits that move

But we can be present in these moments.  We can help you gather them, preserve them, and celebrate them, season after season, change after change.

Connection, Discovery and Celebration: How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

Summer always feels like a unique and special time - a time for contemplating, for appreciating, and for enjoying life and the world around us.  A time when we try to take a few extra moments in a day or over the course of a week or two to reconnect, recharge and reclaim some of the beauty around us and within us.

In that spirit, we have rounded up some of our favorite posts that celebrate summer, vacation, and the families with whom we are privileged to share them.

Vacation Tips: Vacation Is An Opportunity For Connection

vacation tips

 

When summer vacation time comes around there can be a sense of pressure to create an idyllic experience. When we think of summer getaways, we think of dining alfresco, swimming, long evenings, tons of play time, summer reading and many opportunities to soak up the delicious summer sun.

Read more.

Make Summer Memories Together

Lately, we have been wrapping up the week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with a reminder to our friends and followers to go out and make some memories.  It seems the desire to make memories is rarely as strong as it is in the summer months.  Thinking back, so many of the memories we treasure as adults were those that we made in the summer - backyard adventures, camp friends, vacations with our family.

 

Summer has changed quite a bit since we were kids, with parents feeling more pressure than ever to balance work with memory-making family time, and trying to keep some of the magic of summer alive for our kids in the midst of schedules that don't seem to take a break with the change of seasons the way we often wish they would.

Read more.

What A Multigenerational Vacation Taught Me About The Past And The Future

My son and my parents have always been close, and I am so deeply grateful that we had this extended time together. It is in the small moments of this type of time and space that the most important memories are made.

multigenerational vacations grandfather grandson

 

My son did enjoy the miniature golf games, ice cream and sailing adventures, but if you asked him about the highlights of his vacation, he would cite reading next to my father, making ice cream with my mom and playing catch in the pond with me.

Read more.

We wish all families a summer filled with memories, love and discovery.  Share your vacation moments with us here and on Facebook and Instagram.  Happy Summer!

Activities with Kids that Spark Conversation

Engaging our kids in activities that make them feel comfortable, creative, inspired and open encourages them - and makes them feel comfortable  to have good, honest conversations with us.

Because celebrating the real voices of our kids, their insights, dreams, observations, and joy is so much a part of our mission as filmmakers, we have come up with some ideas for fun activities that create conversation.  These are great things to do over summer vacation and throughout the year.

Play Outside

The outdoors is full of inspiration for kids and adults. As stimulating as the out of doors is, it is free of the distractions of home.  You won't be tempted to try and put away all the toys in the playroom or check your email "just one more time" when you are outside, immersed in nature. 

activities with kids

Playing a game of catch, going on a nature walk, collecting shells, or searching for the perfect shady spot in the park all provide opportunities to ask and answer questions about the world around us and to get insight into what is on our children's minds and in their hearts.

Go For a Walk

Again, you are limiting the distractions that try to steal attention away from our kids, and you are limiting the distractions that prevent kids from focusing on their thoughts and engaging in conversation with us (it's pretty difficult to answer a question fully when they are indulging in some screen time).

take a walk together stop and smell the roses

Walking together gives your child the chance to fill you in on his or her day.  If possible, walk home from camp or from school.  Ask a mixture of precise and open-ended questions to remind them of different moments in the day, and to get a sense of what they enjoyed, what they didn't, and what those moments made your child think about and feel.  

Questions like "what was the best part of your day" or "who did you sit with at lunchtime" are easier for kids to answer than "how was your day."

Build Something Together

When we work on something together we need to communicate and to focus.  All of this helps to create a comfortable environment for conversation and for sharing.  We feel connected when we are working on a project together and kids gain confidence and feel proud when they are able to build something from start to finish. 

build something together

Get out some puzzles, look through craft books and science experiments and find a project that is challenging but not intimidating, that is collaborative and fun.  Talk with your kids first and let them help you choose what project you want to do together.  Talk about why you are choosing that project and talk, as you go, about what comes next, how the steps connect, and who should do what to make your project work.

Learn Something Together

It's good for our kids to see that we can still learn something.  Kids feel less shy when they see that we also need to go step by step and they feel excited, right along with us, as we make progress to learn something new.  

learn something together

Learn simple sign language, or try another new language (especially if your child is taking lessons in school or through an afterschool program).  Discover facts about animals or regions of the world, try out some new dance steps, or go to a music class together.  Learning something new together gives you a sense of shared accomplishment.  You can practice together and discover together, all the while nurturing an environment of communication, trust and support.

Cook a Meal

Integrate conversation and special time with your kids into your daily life.  Cook breakfast or dinner together.  Let your child help you choose what to make and include him or her in the preparation process.  Reading recipes and measuring ingredients helps younger kids build literacy and math skills and making a meal together sets the stage for good conversations.

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If you are making breakfast, talk about your plans for the day.  If you are making dinner, talk abut your favorite moments of the day.  Talk about ingredients, flavors, and family traditions.  Preparing and eating food is a time honored way of connecting and sharing with others.  Using this time intentionally with our kids passes along traditions and infuses an everyday task with joy.

What the End of School Year Means for Parents

There are few moments when the passage of time is felt as acutely as it is at the end of the school year.  Surely, we are all looking at (and posting) the side-by-side First Day of School/Last Day of School photos on social media and remarking at how much our children and our friends' children have changed over the course of a school year.

Likely, we are also thinking in our more quiet, private moments, about how fast the time is going, how different our kids are from when they started the school year, and anticipating, already, how much they will have changed by the end of the summer, by the end of next year...

Celebrate these moments, mark these changes.  Listen to and look at your children as they are right now, carrying with them what they learned over these past few months, hearing their dreams for vacation adventures and all that lies ahead of them. 

Schedule a Portraits that Move portrait video session today, to honor the now, to preserve this moment, this year, this child of yours.  It doesn't need to be a holiday in the traditional sense, and it doesn't have to be a formal gift to a parent or grandparent.  Let this be your time to celebrate your children, their accomplishments, this moment, right now.

Conversations with Kids: Transition to Summer, An Interview with My Son

The end of the school year came fast and furiously last month and in New York, the kids were in school until almost July so we are still easing into the reality of summer. June is always an intense month filled with endings and beginnings. It marks the ending of a grade, of a school year, of a class and the beginning of the carefree, fun days of summer.

My son, on his last day of school in June

My son, on his last day of school in June

Like most parental rights of passage, I found this time this year very bittersweet. I was incredibly excited for my son that he was finishing his school year and that it had been a good one for him. I share his excitement for all things summer: fireworks, ice cream, traveling, beaches, swimming, late playdates, s’mores (he really loves those!) and summer reading.  Yet all the while, I also felt a bit wistful how about fast the time is going by and quickly my son is growing up.

Much like I do when filming kids for Portraits that Move documentaries, I decided to do a quick interview with him, asking about his feelings on summer in the hopes of opening up a conversation about this transition. What I found was that he was present, thinking forward and open. He felt curious, positive and at ease. The conversation with him was brief but joyful.

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Q: What do you love most about summer?

A: Traveling to places like Cape Cod and Maine because I like spending time with my family. When I go there I get to see all my cousins.

Q: How does summer feel different from the school year to you?

A: Well, I miss my friends and I don’t like learning as much as learning while you are doing something fun and summer is a way better time to do that because there is no homework.

Q: What will you miss about school?

A: That my friends are there - I miss them already - that they help me a lot and I love them and I don’t see them a lot in the summer.

Q: Do you have any goals – is there something you really want to do, learn or get better at – this summer?

A: I want to learn more multiplication. And I want to learn about rocks, and birds and nature.

Q: What is your favorite summer tradition?

A: Going to Cape Cod and s’mores, of course. 

transitions kids summer

After this conversation I felt less emotional.  Conversation and questions always soften the intensity of any moment. Our children offer us the gift of living in the present moment. It is up to us how often we allow ourselves to live in that moment with them.  I hope to do a great deal of that this summer with my son.

Speaking with our children, asking questions and really hearing their answers is such an important part of our job as parents, and my job as a filmmaker.  This summer, I want to be mindful of creating space for conversations with my son.  And I know it will make our summer all the more joyful, and memorable, no matter how quickly it seems to go.