It’s the end of the day. You’re tired and trying to wrestle your child into bed so you can go watch a marathon of “Chopped” reruns. But then it happens: your child requests a story.
You know that studies have shown that oral storytelling is good for kids, so you probably should tell one. But it’s been a long day, and you really want to know how the chefs will manage to make a dessert out of Oreos, emu eggs, and tiny pickles. You need to make it quick.
Here are some bedtime stories you should be able to tell in 15 seconds or less
1 | Give a twist on a classic
Hansel and Gretel went in the woods and saw a house made of candy and ate some of it. Then they got thrown in a cage and were almost eaten by a witch. Moral of the story: If you ever happen on a house in the woods with a roof made of gumdrops, do not eat the gumdrops because you might get eaten by a witch. Also, gumdrops aren’t even that good. Sweet Dreams.
2 | Loosely describe your child’s day
One day a little boy got up and ate breakfast. Then he went to school, did some learning and stuff, and came home. For dinner he ate a complete meal of Borscht and Brussels sprouts, because he was never cooked a separate kid’s meal growing up and thus developed into a magical, fictional good eater. After dinner he was so full that he put himself to bed. The end.
3 | Describe a TV show
A little girl wanted to go visit a mountain with her friend monkey who happened to wear boots, but she had to make three stops. The most direct route was to just go straight to the mountain, but a talking map told her to stop by a pumpkin patch and a waterfall so that’s what she did. Then she got to the mountain and it wasn’t that great (a fox kept jumping out and trying to swipe stuff) so she went back home. She was so worn out from her journey that she went straight to bed. Sleep tight!
4 | Draw on objects in the room
Once there was a very soft pillow and a very comfortable mattress and they just wanted someone to go to sleep on them. So they didn’t go anywhere or do anything. They just lay there waiting for their owner to fall asleep on them. They also got very sad if their owner got in and out of bed too much or asked for a glass of water when the owner wasn’t even thirsty. If these objects sound familiar, it is because they are the ones you are reclining on now and the story has ended. It’s time to go to sleep.
5 | Choose your own adventure story
Just loosely following this script:
Child: Tell me a story.
Parent: What do you want it to be about?
Child: Um, my stuffed armadillo.
Parent: Okay. What does it do?
Child: Well, she goes on an adventure.
Parent: To look for The Alamo?
Child: What is that?
Parent: Never mind. Keep going.
Child: So she walks carefully along the road and makes sure to look out for cars…
Parent: That’s good. Tell me more. (Drifts off to sleep.)
This piece originally appeared on Parent.co