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.)
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!
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
hole punch (not pictured, oops!)
For each container, cut ghost eyes and mouth shapes as shown from black duct tape sheets. Stick them to a clean, dry canning jar.
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.
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!
I’m going to let you in on a never-admitted fact about my household. I am the Al Roker of my little domain. You’d think I had a permanent sign plastered to my forehead that reads, “Ask me about the weather.” My husband gets out of the shower and immediately asks, “is it hot? cold? raining? windy?”. And then, there are my two toddlers who don’t really know to ask about the weather yet, but request to wear the most inappropriate clothing for the occasion. So I’ve been craving a central station where the forecast can live in my house so everyone knows whether or not they need a jacket, an umbrella, or snow shoes! Here it is, right from the pages of the September issue of FamilyFun magazine!!
You will need:
4 6×6″ squares of paper
Foam core cut to 6 x 24 inches
Card stock in solid colors
Twine or ribbon
Glue the paper squares to the foam core.
Cut out a sun, cloud, raindrop, and snowflake, or other weather symbols. glue one in the center of each square.
Cover clothespin in decorative washi tape. (The original instructions call for scrap paper, but I thought the washi added a little extra pep!)
Tape a ribbon or twine loop to the back of the foam core for hanging.
Now I think I just need to add a white board to record the daily temperature and maybe little clips that teach my kids what to wear in certain weather conditions. Seriously, this meteorology center is going to need its own wall by the time I’m done. But we’re definitely off to a strong start!
As my kids are growing older and going to more and more “extracurricular” activities, I find that managing all the stuff is an extracurricular activity in and of itself. The idea of keeping it all together is obviously the way to go, but with limited closet and drawer space in their shared room, I haven’t found a clear way to store it all and to always know where it is.
When I came across these stenciled activity bags in the September issue of FamilyFun, one word came to mind: genius. After karate, we can put Oliver’s gi back in the karate bag, and after ballet, Sommer’s shoes and tutu can go right in. (This also doubles as a prevention tool for her wanting to wear her ballet shoes everywhere, everyday.) Best part? They are really easy to do, and pretty darn cute. Here’s how…
1. First, outline the design with you pencil by pressing down pretty hard.
2. Turn the drawing over onto the non-shiny side of the freezer paper, and pencil over the line, transferring the original pencil line. (You may want to tape the template to the freezer paper to hold it in place.) Discard the original template or drawing.
3. Carefully cut out the design with the craft knife.
4. Iron the stencil onto the canvas bag using the cotton setting of your iron. You are ironing the outside area of where you cut, not the object you cut out.
5. With a sponge brush, dab paint onto the bag, inside the stenciled shape. Let dry.
6. Pull off freezer paper and voila! You too have created a genius grab-n-go activity bag for your kids!