Thanksgiving Day Tip: Involve your Au Pair in Story Corps’ National Day of Listening

by cv harquail on November 21, 2009

Here’s a Thanksgiving activity that you can involve your au pair in, that can keep her engaged, keep family members engaged, and create something special for all of you.

200911210919.jpgHave your au pair lead the family in the Story Corps’ National Day of Listening. The actual National Day of Listening is the day after Thanksgiving (November 27th), but you might as well do this when everyone is together at Thanksgiving!

Use the guidelines that Story Corps provides, and mix it up to fit you families’ circumstances. They make it so, so, easy, with a Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide and even an instructional video!

The Goal:

  • Create mini-videos of family members telling family stories
  • Create some gifts for your children, your au pair and your family

You will need:

  • A video camera,
    A Mac or PC with an internal camera,
    A digital camera, or
    A digital voice recorder
  • A list of questions
  • Some willing interviewees
  • Some willing Interviewers

Then, take the list of questions, turn on the camera, and start talking with each other.

200911210916.jpgYou can use the list of questions suggested in the Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide, and you can make a list of questions just for your au pair and kids. The Story Corps website actually has a Question List Generator that makes it really easy and comes up with things you might not have th9oguht of. I’ve listed some questions below.

Don’t let the technology get in the way– use what you’ve got, maybe play a little bit, or ask your 11 year old to figure out how to use iLife or iMovie to edit later, but just turn the thing on and go.

This activity will not only create memories for everyone to keep (imagine putting dvds with the stories in people’s stockings, or giving them as New Year’s gifts!), but also you’ll keep a lot of people gainfully employed happily occupied during what can be a boring, tense, or aimless afternoon if you are not the one watching football or the thermometer on the turkey.

For Grandparents, you can ask:

• Where did you grow up?
• What was your childhood like?
• Who were your favorite relatives?
• Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
• How did you and grandma/grandpa meet?
• What was my mom/dad like growing up?
• Do you remember any songs that you used to sing to her/him? Can you sing them now?
• What were your parents like?
• What were your grandparents like?

For Au Pairs you can ask:

  • What made you want to be an au pair?
  • What was it like when you started interviewing with families?
  • What struck you about our family that made you interested?
  • How is our family like/not like what you expected?
  • What are the craziest things you have learned about Americans?
  • How does our family remind you of your family at home?
  • What have you learned about yourself so far this year?

200911210917.jpgWith kids you can ask:

  • What a re the craziest things you have done with our au pair?
  • What are the favorite English words she says in her (x) accent?
  • What characteristics of our au pair would you like to have when you grow up?

For extra fun,

Interview your pets. (The kids can make up the answers and pretend to be the dog or cat!) Or,
Interview an inanimate object in your home! (Here we are with Refrigerator. Refrigerator, what crazy things do you know about our family that no on else knows?)

 Keep in mind:

Listening is an act of Love.

Happy memories are gifts we can give each other.

Families all have interesting stories.

Don’t let the schlep factor get in your way… it really isn’t hard, having some tech challenges to surmount can actually bring people together!

Whose story would you like to capture? Whose life would you like to celebrate?

Photo credits:
I love my Flip by Old Shoe Woman on Flickr
Learning how to video by Envision Good
Flip’s first Outing
from The Advocacy Project


Calif Mom November 23, 2009 at 9:45 am

This is brilliant. I wonder if we can actually get something going.

TX Mom November 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Terrific idea to incorporate into an AP’s end of year gift or a summer “keep the kids busy” project. (In case I can’t get it done THIS week.)

tracy cota November 27, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I absolutely love this Story Corps idea. I think it is fantastic. What a wonderful idea. We have started using our flip video to record our au pair with the kids to have the memories. We have also decided this year that we are going to try to get the kids on video singing some of the songs the au pair’s have taught them over the years and send a video as a holiday gift. Love this idea, though. It is great.

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