Gratitude Mobile: FamilyFun Test Drive

A deliciously cooked turkey. Check. A beautifully set table. Check. Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie. Check, check, and check. So everything is ready for the Thanksgiving meal. There’s one thing left on your list…oh right—the lesson of this holiday. Take some time with your kids to reflect on what you are grateful for. As I learned this year, kids as young as two can understand the concept of gratitude, and it’s so important to start on this lesson early.

I sat down with Oliver and Sommer this week and talked about all the wonderful things and people that we have in our lives…from Lego trains to each other (Lego trains were mentioned first, mind you). So as a seasonal reminder of our good fortune, we made this festive little mobile from the November issue of Family Fun to hang in the kitchen so we can look up and remember all that we are grateful for.

How it’s done:

1. Punch circles from a 2″ to 3″ paper punch. (Kids love doing this part!)

2. Invite everyone to jot down a few things that inspire gratitude in them. Write “We’re thankful for …” on a larger circle.

3. To assemble the mobile, knot string onto the inner ring of an embroidery hoop, then extend it across to the opposite side, knot it, and trim. Repeat with 3 more lengths of thread to create 8 spokes. Gather the threads together at the center and knot a loop of twine around them for hanging.

4. Punch holes in the circles, then hang them from the hoop with thread. (I tied a circle on either side of a string and looped it over the hoop instead of tying. This allowed me to balance and move the circles as needed.)

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Join Family Volunteer Day on November 22nd!

There’s no better time of year to teach children about giving and community service than the holiday season. While we are enjoying delicious foods and looking forward to Christmas, Hanukkah and other festive celebrations, it’s so important to teach our kids that we need to share with others who may not have as much as we do.

Points of Light created Family Volunteer Day 22 years ago to highlight the benefits of family volunteering and provide opportunities for families to help communities create supportive environments for their children and each other. This year Family Volunteer Day takes place on November 22 (the weekend before Thanksgiving) and is being sponsored by Disney Friends for Change and powered by generationOn. Visit generationOn for all sorts of resources of how to get involved with your kids on this very important day.

My husband Michael and I talked to Oliver and Sommer about giving back to our community and ways we could help. Even at 2 and 4, they came up with suggestions as to what we can give away to those in need. We decided we’d put a box in our kitchen, and every week before Thanksgiving, we each put one item into the box. So that we know that everyone did their part that week, each family member was assigned a color sticker: Oliver is blue, Sommer is purple, I’m yellow and Michael is red.

We decided to decorate our box with the stickers so when we take it to our donation location of choice on November 22nd, (find yours at Feeding America or All For Good) it looks and feels like a gift. Two families in our neighborhood joined us in this family volunteering project and we plan to go together to deliver our donation. I find that when kids can discuss an activity among their peers, they often come to different observations and lessons.

If you volunteer on November 22, tell your story at generationon.org/fvd—selected families will appear in a future issue of FamilyFun magazine!

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Painted Thanksgiving Pumpkins: Family Fun Test Drive

I always end up with uncarved, unpainted, undecorated pumpkins post-Halloween. You know, the ones that are so round, so beautifully orange, or so perfectly ridged that you don’t want to mess with them? Don’t let them go to waste and turn them into a lovely, photo display for your upcoming Thanksgiving celebration!

  1. First, prime your pumpkins so the paint adheres to the surface. Let that dry, then let the kids paint their own designs and patterns. (Oliver and Sommer loved smothering these guys in paint. I helped a bit with the fine details, of course.)
  2. Use a pointed object like a nail or the end of needle-nose pliers to make a small hole on the top of the pumpkin (a job for an adult).
  3. Loop a 12-inch length of floral wire around something thick and round (I used my small craft paint bottles but you can also use a marker) to make a coil at one end. Slip it off and insert the pointed end into the pumpkin or gourd.

Fingers crossed, these pumpkins will last until Thanksgiving where they will no doubt make it into the centerpiece of my table. (Or perhaps I’ll place them on the buffet table and use them as menu markers next to the dishes! So many options!)

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Ghostly Halloween Pretzel Treats: FamilyFun Test Drive

Today is the big day. Not your wedding day. Not high school graduation. Not even your birthday. It’s HALLOWEEN!

I don’t know about yours, but my kids woke up this morning with a special kick in their step, so I decided to surprise them after school with these adorable Paranormal Pretzels from the October issue of FamilyFun Magazine.

If you need to kill time before the trick or treating begins (and your costumes are finished!), whip these up with the kids this afternoon. So easy and they’ll love giving expression to their little pretzel ghosts!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  •  Yogurt pretzels
  •  Candy melts
  •  Sprinkles and/or small candies for pupils

Make It

1. Place yogurt pretzels on parchment paper. Heat candy melts according to the package directions. Spoon each color into a ziplock bag and snip off one tiny corner. Let the candy cool for a minute, then pipe it into the holes as shown. Before the filled areas set, add sprinkles or small candies for pupils.

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Halloween Ghost Cups: FamilyFun Test Drive

Believe it or not, if I had to pick one thing that rivaled candy or chocolate in this house, it would be milk (for the kids, that is). My kids are really on the verge of being milk-a-holics. Obviously, there are addictions way worse, but when I presented them with these adorable ghost milk cups (from the October issue of FamilyFun), I knew it wouldn’t be hard to get them to indulge.

These are super easy…here’s what you need!

  • black duct tape sheets
  • canning jar
  • scrapbook paper
  • hole punch (not pictured, oops!)
  • straw
  • milk
  • scissors
  1. For each container, cut ghost eyes and mouth shapes as shown from black duct tape sheets. Stick them to a clean, dry canning jar. 
  2. Trace the center section of the lid on scrapbook paper and cut out the circle. With a hole punch, make an opening for a straw. 
  3. Fill the jar with milk, then add the paper circle, screw on the lid, and poke the straw through.
 I think I’m going to fill them with cotton balls and let them sit on the mantle until Halloween is over!
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Tags: | Categories: Crafts, DIY, Family, Food, Fun, Halloween, Holiday, kids