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!
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!
I was raised to listen to authority. I took it seriously (most of the time) and today, I think we should all listen to our president’s declaration of the National Day of Making! While I do realize that Mr. President is trying to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in technology and the like, I don’t think we have to discount our need (and love) for the decorative arts! So I say…make robots, make jewelry, make cupcakes!
Here’s a fun, quick, and easy little project that you can do with your kids on this first National Day of Making!
The Father’s Day rule in my household is simple. Dad gets to choose whatever he wants for that day (and ditto on Mother’s Day). So for example, if Dad wants to lay in the park with a bagel and lox and play catch for 7 minutes then lay in the sun then nap when the kids nap then choose his own restaurant for dinner, then so be it. That’s what he gets. If he decides that he doesn’t want to make any decisions, then Mom and kids take over. It’s our way of relieving the pressure of gift giving—we have birthdays and other holidays for that. But there’s always room for a little bit of surprise, even in a day totally prescribed by Dad. And these adorable printables are sure to bring a smile to his face!
Ask any parent what she struggles with the most and usually, at the top of the list is healthy eating. As my kids get older, I notice that involving them in the cooking process really encourages the exploration into new foods. And that first bite (or sip) is step one. All we can hope for is that one of those first bites will catch and a new flavor, food group, or, dare I say, green will get worked into our kids’ repertoire.
Finding recipes that are easy enough to do with kids as young as 3 is a bit challenging, and then you prop up the iPad, print-out, or laptop on the kitchen counter, sticky fingers create smudges, then excitement grows, and spills ensue. A kids’ cookbook is a fun idea, for sure, but there’s something a whole lot more exciting about getting a box every month in the mail with a new recipe, a new tool, and a new activity. And that’s what you get with Kidstir, the subscription service that brings easy-to-follow, easy-to-do, and healthy kid-friendly recipes to your door. Every month. No joke.
Here’s how it works…you sign up and for $19.95 a month (you can do 3, 6, or 12 months), Kidstir sends you a box of goodies. You’ll first get the starter kit that comes with this cute, customizable 3-ring recipe binder with dividers, and then each month you’ll get more recipes, more cooking tools, and more fun activities to try with your kids. The pages are smudge-proof, easy-to-read, and adorably designed. Each kit lists the recipe’s ingredients, the kitchen skills that your child will learn, the steps, and notes to grown-up helpers with safety guidelines. And if this isn’t enough, Kidstir also has free printable downloads on their website for Honey Bee Bar Wrappers, a multiple choice breakfast in bed menu, and a cute chart that reminds kids about the importance of eating the rainbow. Again, no joke.
Oliver and I started with the simple orange drink; he loved squeezing the oranges and I’m not sure if he took a breath as he slurped down his homemade refreshment.
When I cook in the kitchen, my kids always drag their chairs over to the counter and rarely am I prepared for their “assistance.” Sommer will grab for a knife and then Oliver will shut his sister’s fingers in a drawer. It’s not a pretty sight. Now we can plan for real kid kitchen time and they can both lend a hand to making something that we all want to eat!