Working Parent Parenting & Child Care by Stage Child Development Education Family Health Family Life In the News

How to Get Kids to Talk about Their Day: Happy/Sad Jar

How to Get Kids to Talk about Their Day: Happy/Sad Jar

My colleagues warned me it would happen when Olivia went off to kindergarten. They said, “Be prepared to know a lot less about your child’s day.” Although I get a folder of papers every day and snippets of highlights from Olivia it’s just not the same as the daily What in the World Happened email or a 5 minute chat with the teacher during preschool drop-off or pick-up.

So, when I saw the Memory Jar idea on Pinterest recently I knew I had to adapt it. The original idea was for a New Years jar filled with notes about good things that happen during the year to be read on the following New Years Eve. But I wanted to be able to get inside my 5-year old’s head about school so I thought a Happy/Sad jar was the right direction for us.

We started it last week on her first day of kindergarten. We write down the happy parts of her day and any sad parts. It’s working great. When I ask her about her day she says she doesn’t remember or nothing interesting happened. But when we are writing her happy/sad thoughts she comes up with the best highlights and “low” lights. Luckily, the sad items have been mostly about missing mom/dad right now. But I can see this being a great tool for when she really gets into (and out of) school friendships.

A couple of my favorites so far:

  • Happy (from September 4 – 1st day of school): Meeting new friends, drawing my book, going on the bus, and seeing my new teachers
  • Sad (from September 10): Didn’t get to finish all 7 learning/activity tables at school

I especially love the sad one because her dad and I asked a bunch of times about school and she couldn’t really give any details about her day. When we were doing the jar, however, she said “remember how I told you I didn’t get to do all the activities.” Ah – no. And if not getting to do all of her work is the “sad” part of her day than I think she is doing okay.

How about you – any tips for getting children to talk about school or their day?


  1. Kat September 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I like the happy/sad jar idea (especially because it’s another opportunity for my 1st grader to practice writing and spelling).

    I also miss the detailed What in the Worlds from BH! One method that I have found works well is to ask whether he did something new or something he already knew in a certain topic (math, spelling, etc) or class (art, music, PE). We can then ask him to elaborate – what was the new game you played? did you feel like that same math work was easier or harder this time? – and that usually reveals a lot more about his day.

  2. Leela September 17, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I like this idea. I’ll try it.

    I’m not consistent this year yet but we do “Rose, Bud, Thorn” of the day. Usually she doesn’t have a thorn. Rose is something that was nice. Bud is something that has potential and Thorn is something that wasn’t nice.

    Also, at the dinner table, everyone went around and said those three things. It helps give her ideas of what might fit into those buckets. So, my husband and myself would do it.

  3. eugene September 20, 2012 at 2:31 am

    usually when I start talking about my day, or what I did in school when I was his age, my son remembers something that happened with him and he opens up.

  4. Pingback: Back-to-School: Transitioning to Kindergarten | Bright HorizonsThe Family Room |

  5. Pingback: How Was Your Day? Tips for Getting Children to TalkThe Family Room |

Please Log In to Comment