Roll the Orange
Contributed by The Family Dinner Project Team
Roll the Orange is a fun way to help kids learn to take turns in conversation! It’s especially useful if played while using a conversation jar, or our digital “Start the Conversation” tool. If your family has trouble with interruptions or with letting everyone have a chance to participate in conversation, grab an orange and try this!
- Place an orange (or a small ball) in the center of the table.
- Choose one person — Person A — to begin the conversation.
- Person A draws a conversation starter from the jar, or uses the “start the conversation” button on a device.
- Person A reads the conversation starter aloud, then takes the orange and gently rolls it to someone else at the table.
- The person who gets the orange has the first turn to answer the question. That person holds the orange until they’re done speaking, then gently rolls the orange to someone else.
- Continue rolling the orange to different family members until everyone has had a turn. Remember: If you’re not holding the orange, it’s not your chance to answer!
You can also use Roll the Orange during less structured conversations. The rules remain simple: Whoever holds the orange is speaking. When they’re done, they can pass it to someone else. If another person wants to respond or add something to the conversation, they can raise a hand or wave a napkin to signal that they want the orange next. Remind family members to make sure everyone is included by gently asking, “Is there anyone who hasn’t had the orange yet?”
If one of your family members is working on goals for reciprocal conversation — such as trying to improve the number of back-and-forth exchanges that person can have with another — use Roll the Orange to help! Decide how many “rolls” you want to achieve during your conversation, and pass the orange back and forth to help keep track of your conversational turns.