I think I’ve heard enough about MineCraft for a while. I’m fairly certain, also, that Jay and Chris are tired of answering questions about their new teachers and classmates at school.
There might be hundreds of ways to ask, “So, how was school today?” But these guys have heard them all and they have perfected the artful dodge — aka a one-shouldered shrug and a mumbled, “It was OK.”
And there might be thousands of ways to describe the quest for a new pickaxe or an encounter with creepers or the latest legend of Herobrine. We know they love it, we know it’s supposed to help with problem-solving skills, but I’m kind of ready for MineCraft to go the way of Rainbow Loom.
So, Scholastic came along right on time with their request for me to check out their new KidQ app. The art of conversation with an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old had begun to deteriorate noticeably. Especially at the breakfast table, where we stuck to the basics: homework, lunch options, homework and EAT YOUR EGGS for God’s sake don’t you know there are STARVING kids somewhere in the world who would LOVE to have scrambled eggs and toast, etc.
You know, the usual.
That changed when we introduced the KidQ app from Scholastic to our breakfast routine.
What is KidQ?
Scholastic describes it as a free app for Android and iPhone that: “facilitates conversation via fun Q&A’s about the things that kids (and parents!) are the most curious about. … Each day, users are notified of a new playful question that serves as a conversation starter along with the official answer. Families will have a blast as they compare their explanations to the facts!”
That’s the pitch. Sounds nice, sure, but couldn’t we just come up with questions of our own to ask the kids at breakfast? The answer is yes, we could have — and we did. In fact, that part of our interaction hasn’t gone away. At breakfast and dinner, we still talk about what’s happening in our lives (OK, yes, the conversation does in fact extend beyond school and MineCraft).
But now? Before we even get settled in our chairs, instead of begging for five minutes of MineCraft on our iPhones, one or both of them ask: “Dad, what’s today’s KidQ question?”
I’ll say this right now — I was not so sure that our kids would buy into the whole, facilitating “conversation via fun Q&A’s” thing. I figured I’d try it a couple of times and see if it took.
It didn’t hurt at all that our first question was about the distance a skunk can spray its smelly musk.
Oh, man. That hooked ‘em. They laughed and laughed at the thought of a skunk spraying. I love how kids that age so easily amused by smelly things. The answer, by the way, is up to 10 feet accurately, and up to 18 feet randomly.
We skipped along with a few more questions:
- Why do hummingbirds hum?
- How do bees make honey?
- What are shooting stars?
- What causes you to hiccup?
- Why do you think geese fly in a V formation?
The way we use it is:
- I ask the question.
- They give their answers.
- I read out the Scholastic answer.
- We go through the set of Fun Facts that are included with every question and answer.
Sometimes, we’ll talk about the topic a little more, and that will lead to conversation about something else, and something else. Other times, they’ll immediately ask me to read the next question. They greet each one with delight, often with laughter.
Here’s an example of the question, answer and Fun Facts from a couple of days ago. I chose it to share here because I am from North Carolina originally and a lot of our family still lives there. Someday, we’ll take them to Kitty Hawk, N.C., for a visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial. And when we do, we’ll say, “Hey, remember that KidQ question about North Carolina? Why the license tags say First in Flight?”
I’m pretty sure they will.
It’s as cool as it looks. And did I mention this thing is free? Simple follow this link: http://www.scholastic.com/apps/#/kidq and download the app to your Android device or iPhone. You’ll have the option to sign in with Facebook or Twitter and share the questions, if you want. A new question will be provided each day at a time of your choosing. You also can elect to skip a question and move on to the next one any time you like. So far, I haven’t found a limit to the number of questions you can ask each day.
Which is fine with Jay and Chris. Oh, they still squeeze in their MineCraft time each day. But it’s good to know that they can appreciate the fine art of conversation about something that doesn’t involve this guy:
Disclosure: I was compensated by Scholastic to use the new KidQ app and spread the word about how great it is for generating conversation with kids and making them think a little. But between you and me, I would have used this app for nothing. Our kids like it that much.