Let’s Talk with Canoe and Feather: 30 Mealtime Conversation Starter Cards from Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Vancouver Island Health Authority
Let’s Talk with Canoe and Feather is a downloadable set of 30 conversation starter cards for parents to use to stimulate conversation at mealtimes. The set of cards is co-produced by Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Vancouver Island Health Authority.
Each card has a conversation starter question on one side, while the other side has an encouraging message about the health values of shared mealtimes.
The Health Messages are:
- Kids who eat dinner with family at least once a day have Better Health. (They are at lower risk for overweight and obesity and are less likely to suffer from eating disorders.)
- Kids who eat dinner with family at least once a day have Better Nutrition. (They eat more fruit, vegetables, fibre, calcium, folate, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C and E. They also drink less pop. )
- Kids who eat dinner with family at least once a day are Better Connected. (They understand their familiy’s values and traditions. They have a sense of belonging and security and enjoy family support.)
- Kids who eat dinner with family at least once a day have Better Behaviours. (They are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, and less likely to smoke. They are less likely to have fights, early sexual behaviours and depression.)
- Kids who eat dinner with family at least once a day have Better School Performance. (They have better grades.)
- Families say mealtime is the favourite time of day to interact and talk about their day. Try breakfast instead of dinner. Turn off the TV and cell phones. Share pleasant conversation.
- What is a Family Meal? When at least one adult and one child eat together.
The conversation starters are simple, open-ended questions designed to be accessible to both children and adults. They are crafted to elicit personal responses that express insights about the individual, and allow responses at different levels of openness and comfort, from jokes to deeply serious.
Some examples of the “Let’s talk” questions:
- What makes you laugh the most?
- Who is your hero, and why?
- Where would you go on your dream vacation?
- What was the best surprise you’ve ever had?
- What are some of your favourite memories?
- If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
- If you could start a new family tradition, what would it be?
- If you could have been the inventor of anything already invented, what would it be?
- What foods on the table are crunchy? Chewy? Sweet? Spicy?
- What are some of your favourite foods?
- What is your favourite colour? Do you see anything on the table that is that colour?
- Do you have a make-believe story you would like to share?
- Can you name some fruits that we peel before we eat them?
- Why do we need to wash our hands before we eat?
- Let’s pretend we are going on a picnic, where would we go? What would we bring?
- Let’s explore a food: Can you look at it? Can you touch it? Can you talk about it? Can you lick it? Can you put it in your mouth?
If families are new to shared mealtimes, or find mealtime conversations stressful, these questions offer an opportunity to build new routines and practices at the dinner table. Families are encouraged to create their own favourite conversation-starter questions to further develop shared mealtimes.