Friday, September 25, 2015



Hello parents and kids!  Is it bed time yet?

A is for ArmadilloFirst, we wanted to take a minute to thank you all for reading our blog.  Hopefully you have found the activities to be fun and we have dozens more ideas in the works, so please follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date with new posts!

Today's activity is short and sweet.  Some of you may have played the Geography game before, but today's game is even better for kids because they are more likely to know names of animals instead of places.  The truth is, you can play this with any genre you want, but our kids love playing with animals.

There isn't anything magical or special about this game. It's just a way to find a simple moment at the end of the day for a little quick and fun connection. It is a way for your children to have their last memory of the day be of a moment where their mom or dad gave her/his full and whole attention.

How to Play (For Older Kids Who Can Spell)


O is for OstrichStart by saying the name of any animal (e.g. armadillo). The next player has to name an animal whose name starts with the last letter of the previous animal.  Since armadillo ends with an "o", the next animal needs to start with "o" (e.g. ostrich).  Play continues back and forth until a player cannot think of an animal that 1) starts with the correct letter and 2) has not already been said.

  1. Armadillo
  2. Ostrich
  3. Hedgehog
  4. Gorilla
  5. Aardvark
  6. Kingfisher
  7. Rat
  8. Turtle
You get the idea!

How to Play (For Kids Who Can't Spell Yet)


H is for HedgehogFor younger children, you may need to coach them a bit.  For example, you might make the various long and short "o" sounds after armadillo so that they can hear what the o sounds like and it will trigger the next animal.  For example, when you say the "long o" (ō) they may say "opossum" whereas a short "o" (ŏ) may elicit "octopus".

You may also want to offer clues when they are really stuck.  "Ok, you need an animal that starts with "o".  Can you think of an animal that has eight tentacles?"  There are lots of ways to vary the difficulty of the clues to make it challenging and still fun for the little ones.  Even the older kids will need some help in the later rounds when they hit another "e" animal and eagle, elephant, egret, and emporer penguin have already been said!

Have Fun!


Post a comment below or on Twitter/FB about your experience with this activity.
  1. How many animals did you get before your got stuck?
  2. What was the most interesting animal you thought of?
  3. Which letters were the most difficult?

Just a reminder- it's easy to forget about the core ideas of this shared time together when you're having fun.  Refer back to our first post for a refresher.  We want this time to be quiet whispers of joyful games, lying together in the dark.  It should help children settle before bed.

There's a great poem called "What Remains" that Lisa A. McCrohan wrote at Barefootbarn about what we want our children to remember about us when we're gone.  Here's a little piece that's just perfect for our values at Moonlit Minds:

What remains? I want it to be the words I’ve whispered into their being
a million times a million times, “you are my delight.”

Have fun, and... Mind the nap!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pits and Cherries

Pits and Cherries

Here's a good one for the beginning of the school year.  At the end of the day, we at Moonlit Minds are about connecting parents with kids.  As parents we are dying to know more about our kids' lives, especially when we spend the days apart from them.  That's why the first question for many parents is usually "How was your day?"  But many of us can relate to this infamous response:  "Fine."  It can be incredibly frustrating to hear, and our instinct is often to press kids on it.  However, as Meghan Leahy reminds us, we need to give them "space and grace."

Space does not mean "leave them totally alone." Space means to give them enough physical and emotional space to decompress. Many of our little chickens are trying their darnedest to be "good" at school today...they don't need to be peppered by your questions. They are not responsible for filling your cup. Give them protein, hugs, and ease.

With that in mind, here's a fun game called "Pits and Cherries" to help reconnect with them at the end of the day, after everyone has had time to decompress.

How To Play

The idea is very simple.  Take turns telling each other about the pits and cherries of your day.

The pits are the worst parts of your day.  


The cherries are the best parts of your day.


Here are some of the pits from a day at our house this week:
  • I got 3 mosquito bites while we were playing outside!
  • I didn't like how they weren't letting me play so I had to go inside for a while.  I was really upset about it.
  • He spilled paint on my art project and it was ruined.

Here are some of the cherries from the same day:
  • We had a really fun play date.
  • We got to have ice cream.
  • When Daddy did that crazy dance.  It was so funny.

Pits and cherries can be a great way to express gratitude and to help kid deal with difficult emotions or experiences they have each day.

Don't Judge

One thing we try not to do is impose our own judgement about the kids' pits or cherries.  If a "pit" was sad for them, that's all there is to it!  We don't say things like, "Oh it wasn't that bad was it?"  Children should learn that it's OK to have bad days and that we don't need to be happy all the time.

Try practicing active listening so kids feel heard and validated.  Doing so may lead kids to talk more deeply about something that might be bothering them, to process an event from their day, or explore questions they have been wondering about.

Here's a great quote to end with from author Hugh Mackay that we thought was relevant for this topic:
“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”

Remember too, it's not just about us hearing their pits and cherries, but it's good for them to hear ours, to see us as human, with our own range of emotions. This will help not only connect us to them but also them to us.

Hopefully this will elicit some great conversations and provide a chance to learn more about each other.  Please leave a comment and tell us about your pits and cherries or just say hi!

Enjoy, and.... Mind the nap!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Would You Rather...?

Would You Rather...?

I asked the kids what they thought the first Moonlit Minds activity should be.  There was some healthy debate, but in the end we all agreed on "Would You Rather".


The idea behind the game is to take turns asking each other, "Would you rather" followed by two choices.  It encourages critical thinking and imagination to come up with new questions.
Barisan Injustice

Simple Examples

Here are some examples
  • Would you rather have cookies or cake?
  • Would you rather wake up early or stay up late?
  • Would you rather be right-handed or left-handed?
  • Would you rather be fast or strong?
  • Would you rather be a singer or a dancer?

The Tough Questions

The game can turn funny and/or silly quickly if each tries to think of choices that are both unfavorable and the answerer has to make the difficult choice.
  • Would you rather wear a snow suit in the summer or a bathing suit in the winter?
  • Would you rather be the tallest person in the world or the shortest?
  • Would you rather have a broken arm or a broken leg?
  • Would you rather eat a worm or a beetle?
  • Would you rather never hear your favorite song again or hear your least favorite song 100 times in a row?

Ethical Dilemmas

For older kids, you can take the questions in a different direction, such as:
  • Would you rather help feed 1000 people in a day or 1 person a day for 1000 days?)
  • Would you rather have 1 great friend or 100 pretty good friends?
  • Would you rather be poor and live a very long time or rich but live for only a little while?

Have Fun!

Remember to use this as an opportunity to learn about each other, think, imagine, laugh, and connect before bed.  Have fun and... Mind the nap!

Welcome to Moonlit Minds

Welcome to Moonlit Minds!

So you found this new blog and you're wondering what it's all about.  The concept came from many nights spent lying next to our kids before bed.  We have always felt like those few minutes before they fall asleep are so important.  It is a chance to unwind, reflect, laugh (or cry), connect, and learn together.  It is a ritual we share together every night (alternating for each child!).  Those moments are some of the few times in the day we have each other's full attention and we relish it.

This blog is a collection of activities to do with children right before bed.  We'll post games, puzzles, thought experiments, and more.  There will be opportunities for learning in a variety of areas, and chances for children to reason and explore.  But most of all, it will give you a chance to connect with your kids.

Over the years, we have played countless games with our kids, and we decided to share them with you one post at a time.  Here are the basic tenets of Moonlit Minds activities:


All Moonlit Minds activities (unless otherwise specified) can be done:

1) Lying Down

Parents should be lying down next to the child.  This is a great way to connect and the only way to ensure a successful transition to sleep when you're done!

2) Quietly

(...although I can't guarantee there won't be some giggles along the way!)  But these activities are meant to be relaxing and help keep children calm before bed.  We don't want to get them all excited and prevent them from falling asleep.

3) Briefly

It's bedtime!  We realize that, and we recognize the importance of a good night's sleep for children.  Our activities can be modified to fit into shorter or longer periods of time, but you need to have a clear cutoff in mind.  It's easy to get carried away and realize it's very late.  Sometimes we'll finish bedtime reading a bit early if we have an activity planned that might take more than a few minutes.

4)  In the Dark

Lights out!  These activities should be mostly spoken word only, but some ambient light is needed for some of the activities.  We don't use nightlights, and our kids prefer the room pretty dark.  Scientifically the extra light is tricking kids into staying awake longer so we recommend darkness.  It's very relaxing too.  If kids have anxiety about the dark, this is a good chance to help them through it.  We'll be posting some activities that might help with that too.

Let's get started!

Ok, enough talk.  We'll start blogging now so check back soon.  Please keep in touch in the comments!  Like us, tweet us, and share us!

Have fun and enjoy the precious time with your children.

Mind the nap!