History Discussions for the Dinner Table

Susan Wells
July 28, 2010

Where we have come from and where we are headed can be fun topics for the dinner table. From discussing what happened today, to family history, local history, American history and world history, there is a lot to talk about.

Preschoolers have a strong interest in what came before them. They are just becoming aware of the world around them: aware of the fact that the world may not revolve around them. Many people and events have come before. To satisfy this curiosity, use the dinner table to tell stories and ask questions. Nothing needs to be too in-depth or detailed.

The Story of Me

Start simple. Start with your preschooler's history. A preschooler's favorite topic is All About Me. They will be endlessly fascinated with stories about their own babyhood. Stories about their birth, how you felt, how your spouse felt, who was there, what was memorable. What were the funny things they did as a baby? These stories will be high comedy, top hat for your preschooler. What has changed will be obvious to your preschooler, but let them list the changes they have under gone since birth: walking, feeding, talking, singing, sorting just to name a few. Remember not to share anything you don't want spread around the preschool playground. Preschoolers tend to over share when it comes to personal stories.

The Story of Our Family

Pick a family member to discuss each night during dinner for a week. Where was grandma born? What did grandpa do as a career? What was it like for dad growing up? What did mom do for extra-curricular activities in school? How have these people changed over the years? Does grandpa still work? Does dad still cry when he doesn't get his way? Is mom still a gymnast? Does Aunt Kim still like to boss everyone around? This is a great opportunity to teach your preschooler about the evolution of self. People change and stay the same as they age. If you can, call or connect with the person of honor after dinner and let your preschooler ask questions and share the stories they have heard.

The Story of Our City

This may take a little research online before dinner depending on your knowledge of your city and state. Have a discussion about your local area. Ask your preschooler if they think your home has always been there. What do they think came before the house was built? What people, what animals lived in the area before the house was built? Do those same people or animals still live in the area? How has the landscape changed?

The Story of America and the World

This is a huge, open-ended topic. Again, you may need to do a little research before dinner. Try to find an event that occurred in your area that had national significance. New England residents might have an easier time coming up with American history, but important things have happened all across our great land. Tell your child about it in a short story format. After dinner, jump on the computer to find pictures and stories about the event or place. If it's a place, historical and current pictures can help illustrate for your child. 

History at the dinner table: a wonderful opportunity to broaden your child's world.


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