Table Talk

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The Special Bowl of Treasures

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Try this for a week or a year, especially if your kids are the kind whose pockets are always spilling with found objects.

Place a bowl in the center of your table. As the week progresses and objects are found, either by chance or on special treasure seeking expeditions, the empty nests, and magical marbles, the rock that looks like uncle Bob’s nose, acorns, perfect pebbles and strange seeds, are all placed in the bowl. At the end of the week let each person explain what he or she has found, and why it is so special.

This not only gives you something to talk about, and perhaps a new appreciation of someone else’s finds, it also makes you look at your world in a different manner as you search for objects that are beautiful, odd or surprisingly meaningful.

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Table Talk: Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

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Topic: The 2014 Winter Olympics In Sochi

Story to read: LET THE GAMES BEGIN

What to say to your kids: Every two years, countries from around the world send athletes to represent them in the Olympics (Winter and Summer games alternate each time). This year, the Olympics take place in Sochi, Russia. Competitors from 88 countries will try their very hardest to win a gold medal in sports ranging from figure skating to curling. The games were kicked off Friday with a ceremony where each country paraded their flags. The United States will be the 67th country to enter.

Tonight, let’s talk about what the Olympic games mean for our country and the world.

Questions for discussion:

* Why do you think it’s important for countries to come together to compete?

* Why do you think athletes choose to compete in the Olympics?

* What sport are you most looking forward to watching?

* Do you play any winter sports?

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Table Talk: The Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex Weather System Brings Artic Temperatures Across Wide Swath Of U.S.

Each week, The Huffington Post presents a compelling topic to spark discussion at your dinner table. This week’s topic is the Polar Vortex.

Story to read: U.S. Cold Weather Shatters Records As Polar Air Brings Temperatures Into Single-Digits

What to say to your kids: Some very cold weather hit the U.S. this week, causing temperatures to drop to record-breaking lows.

As the AP explains: “The big chill started in the Midwest over the weekend, caused by a kink in the “polar vortex,” the strong winds that circulate around the North Pole. By Tuesday, the icy air covered about half the country, and records were shattered like icicles up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”

It got so cold in some places that you could throw a boiling pot of water into the air and it would instantly turn into snow. But the intense cold was definitely not all fun and games; it was also dangerous. If a person is in the cold too long, he or she can suffer from frostbite or hypothermia. Luckily, a very good way to avoid danger is to stay cozy inside.

Questions for discussion:

• Did it get cold this week where you live?

• Why do you think some scientists believe the extreme temperatures were related to global warming?

• What are some of your favorite things to do when it’s too cold to go outside?

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The Resolutions Game

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With 2014 fast approaching, here’s a fun family dinner game around the tradition of the New Year’s resolution. Although resolutions, like gratitude, should be something we focus on year round. To aid in that quest, try this dinner table game:

• Everyone write a resolution on a slip of paper, for a change you want to make or just work on. Or try calling it a “determination” — it’s less New Year’s sounding, isn’t it?

• Fold them up and place them in a bowl.

• Select a reader who reads one at a time. Everyone guesses which thought belongs to whom.

There are lots of fun variations of this game, including writing a resolution for someone else at the table (kind ones only!) or one wish for the world, or one thing that makes you happy. A simple fun game that will get everyone talking and laughing, and extend your dinner a few precious moments longer.

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Table Talk: The Passing Of Nelson Mandela

Former President Nelson Mandela waves at the crowd on arrival at the inauguration ceremony at the Union Building in Pretoria. South Africa.

Each week, The Huffington Post presents a compelling topic to spark discussion at your dinner table. This week’s topic is the passing of Nelson Mandela

Story to read: Former South African President Nelson Mandela Dies At 95

What to say to your kids: Yesterday, we mourned the loss of 95-year-old former South African President, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was far more than just a political leader: he inspired people around the world by battling hatred and injustice. In particular, Mandela is famous for fighting the injustice of apartheid, a brutal system under which the South African government separated whites and non-whites.

Mandela was sent to prison for life in 1964 for opposition to the South African government; he was released in 1990. Thankfully, his painful struggle to end apartheid was not in vain. Three years after he was freed, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 1994, he became president of South Africa.

Tonight, let’s honor Nelson Mandela by reflecting on his words about loving the people around us: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Questions for discussion:

* What lessons can we take from Nelson Mandela’s personal and political accomplishments?

* Mandela went to jail for speaking up against his government. What would you do if you saw that someone was being unkind or unfair to others?

* Mandela said “people must learn to hate.” What do you think that means? How can you teach others how to love?

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