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!
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!
Cupcakes, cell phones, Hello Kitty, and BLING! What do these things have in common, you ask? The answer: decoden! And what is decoden? It’s a Japanese-inspired craft trend that is sweeping the nation. Deco is short for decorate and Den is short for denwa, the Japenese word for phone. The technique started as a cell phone decoration, but now you can see it on everything from compact mirrors to picture frames to even finger nails! In short, decoden is just another form of mosaic, but instead of using tiles, you use rhinestones, pearls, clay charms, and, of course, glitter!
Until now, the supplies were a little hard to come by here in the US. You could buy them on Amazon or Etsy, but it was cost-prohibitive because they are mostly coming from Japan. Now, Mod Podge (my favorite craft supply ever) has come out with product line that will make DecoDen a hit here in the States (check your local Michaels Stores for availability). Visit Cathie & Steve’s Handmade Happy Hour to read about the products and to watch videos about how the products work. They were kind enough to send a heap of supplies for my friend Sophia’s 12th birthday party, and I can tell you first hand that THIS IS FUN. I loved it and the kids were obsessed!
To start your decoden projects, you need a few basic things—collage clay (commonly called whip), the object that you want to decorate, and your embellishments (charms-commonly referred to as cabochons, rhinestones, beads, mini-erasers, glitter). You can also use dimensional paint as the adhesive to stick the items to the object. Most of the charms that you see in the photo above are plastic trinkets that I pulled off of inexpensive hair rubber bands and clips, but kids can make their own with polymer clay or with Mod Podge’s new product called Mod Melts. You use the melts with a glue gun and silicone molds to make your own cabochons.
The Collage Clay goes on like icing (but don’t eat it!) It comes packaged in a piping bag and comes with 3 different tips. Here I am showing the kids how you can apply the clay in different patterns, and Victoria is practicing her technique before applying it to her frame.
And then, the decorating began. I offered very little design direction—the kids just went for it full speed ahead. Some went for broad strokes with big, overlapping chunky decorations, and others spent the entire 3-hour party painstakingly applying tiny rhinestones like a mosaic to the back of their phone cases. It was so insane to watch!
If you want to learn all the ins and outs of decoden, check out this brand new book, DecoDen Bling by Alice Fisher. Jump on this craft train people. You’re looking at the next Rainbow Loom explosion!
Birthday girl Sophia was more than pleased with her unique decoden birthday party! I might venture to say it is one of the first of its kind around these parts!
My son is obsessed with cooking. Whether it’s dropping a piece of bread in the toaster, dumping the noodles into the hot water, or making cookies from scratch, he drags his chair over to the kitchen counter so he can lend a helping hand. (I only wish that his enthusiasm for cooking matched his enthusiasm for eating, but that’s another story.) He’s always saying, “Mommy we need to read the constructions,” (meaning instructions or recipe, of course), and I’ve always craved a more visual guide that would allow him to follow along and even tell ME what to do next!
Well, enter Raddish…a new subscription services that delivers an awesome box of cooking (and crafting) goodies to your doorstep each month. Here’s what you get:
3 family friendly recipe guides (They are slick and wipeable…no more spills on the iPad or bleeding ink on a computer print-out! The illustrations are adorable and easy to follow.)
2 creative family activities (They give you everything you need for the crafts!)
A grocery list (thank goodness…someone to do it for you!)
A skill card that teaches kids (and parents) culinary techniques
An adorable Raddish patch to be ironed on to the Raddish apron
Table talk cards to ensure fun dinner table conversation
Here’s the thing: children who explore in the kitchen are much more likely to become adventurous eaters (yes, please). Tasks as simple as washing and peeling veggies can empower kids and get them excited to eat wholesome foods. Plus, countless studies prove that families who eat meals together raise healthier, safer, and more successful children. No brainer, right?
Raddish is designed by teachers who believe the kitchen classroom is the tastiest place to learn. Each box incorporates math, science, nutrition, geography, culture, and history. Raddish provides culinary instruction that cultivates a diverse palate, increases self-confidence, and helps build a solid foundation for a healthy future.
(That’s my little Oliver, wearing his Raddish apron proudly, rollin’ out his pizza dough!)
The kids are home from school and you either need…
Something to entertain them or
A way to put them to work wrapping or making those last minute gifts!
Here are a few crafts you can do at the 25th hour while having a bit of fun! I featured all of these original crafts on my blog, Project Kid in a 10-craft, 10-day Countdown to Christmas. Visit Project Kid for even more ideas for ways to spend the day crafting tomorrow!