Day 12: Random Acts of Kindness

Nothing we get in this world can be taken with us when we leave. However, we do take with us everything we give. It might have been Henry David Thoreau who first shared such a thought, but the meaning is eternal. This Christmas, remind your children to always give more than they receive.

Start by practicing random acts of kindness. Here are some simple ideas you can do to help kids of all ages remember the reason for the season.

Drop some change into the red kettle, or better yet ring the Salvation Army bell as a family.

Start a new habit of putting extra canned goods in your grocery cart each time you shop. Drop them into the donation bin at the door and help end hunger in your community.

Deliver Meals on Wheels, visit residents at a senior living facility, or rake a neighbor’s yard. Teach your kids to look after the oldest members of your community and to always offer help and companionship when possible.

Secretly pay overdue library fees for strangers or treat a special someone to a hot cup of Joe and a muffin one morning…just because.

Bring in a neighbor’s trash cans, recycle bins, newspaper, or mail. Shovel someone’s snowy drive, place fresh poinsettia in your school, church, or community building. Treat postal workers and librarians to little happies (sweet treats). The options are endless, and it’s fun to see little brains switch from thinking about what they WANT for Christmas to figuring out ways to GIVE to others.

See how one blogger teaches her children to be kinder, more compassionate members of society by practicing random acts of kindness. There, you’ll find many more ideas for reaching out with a generous heart.

Happy giving,

j

Day 10: Snow Day! With or Without Snow

There’s nothing like a family day in the snow. If you’re lucky enough to live in snowy climates this season, try these fun ideas. If not, make indoor snowballs by stuffing white socks with fiberfill or cotton balls. Stitch a simple seam and let the games begin! (Or, just roll a ball of socks and go with the no-sew version…kids don’t care.)

Make a snow angel. Add members of your snow angel family.

Image from forty-twowords.blogspot.com

Build a snow fort. Challenge the neighbors to a family face-off.

Go sledding or tubing. No hills? Try pulling a sled behind a four-wheeler….works great for us here in Mississippi! We call it redneck sledding, and I can assure you…it’s FUN!

Paint the snow. Just add food coloring to water until you get the color you want, and then allow kids to spray away using simple spray bottles. Visit craftknife.com for more ideas with snow paint.

Image from morganton.com

Build original snow sculptures. My kids have built snow caterpillars, painting each ball a separate color and adding sticks as antennae and rocks as facial features. Other favorites have included mini-snowmen, bunnies, and angels.

Photo by Masashi Mochida

Toss Snowballs. Even Japanese macaque know it’s fun to have a snowball fight, as seen here on fooyah.com

It’s too early. I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.” 

“They sure look ripe to me.”

Catch snowflakes on your tongue. They’re ripe. I promise.

Image from Allrecipes.com

Make snow cream. Nothing tastes better to a kid than magical snow cream, a good ol’ fashioned recipe that has stood the test of time. Try this one from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon snow
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk
 Directions

When it starts to snow, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once.

Image from Family Fun

Still no snow? Make Snow Dough! Use this old standby recipe for homemade playdough, but instead of food coloring…add glitter, as suggested by Bird and Little Bird. You might even want to add a drop or two of peppermint extract.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon food coloring

Directions

Mix the dry stuff, then the wet stuff and then mix it all together.  “Dough” easy!

Now go thaw out with a mug of hot cocoa, topped with miniature marshmallow snowballs, of course.

j

Day 9: Lovely Night for a Tour of Lights

It’s the ninth day of our Christmas countdown, and it’s time to get out and see the sparkle! Take your family on a tour of holiday lights. If weather permits, get out of the car and enjoy long, peaceful walks together to view the displays. If you need to bundle up instead, be sure to turn on the Christmas music and enjoy a fun family singalong while you drive.

From Millan.Net

It’s also a great idea to go carolling. While this tradition may sound old-fashioned, carollers roam our old neighborhood every year for an impromptu celebration. Who doesn’t enjoy opening the door to find happy singing visitors? And who doesn’t love to sing Christmas songs?

My kids and I all cracked up laughing this morning during our regular commute into school and work. A man was jogging in a full Santa suit, fake beard and all. He waved to cars as he passed and graciously delivered smiles to a cold Friday morning. I admire people like that…who have such a happy, joyful spirit that they aren’t afraid to just love life. Going for a morning jog? Why not wear that Santa suit? You might have more fun than you’ve had in years!

 

Cheers!
julie

Olympic Torch Project for Kids

 

Help your children carry the ceremonial Olympic torch with this simple project.

Materials

  • 1 sheet of white construction paper or poster board
  • Clear tape
  • Red, yellow, and orange tissue paper (12″ x 12″ square of each color)
  • White craft glue

Instructions

  1. Roll the construction paper into a cone shape and secure with tape.
  2. Layer the tissue paper squares, red on the bottom, then orange, and yellow on top.
  3. Gather from the center of the squares and hold in your hand like a bouquet of flowers.
  4. Put some white craft glue into the sides of the opening of the cone.
  5. Place the tissue paper into the cone and let the glue dry completely.

Alternative Materials: If you don’t have tissue paper, use construction paper or printer paper. Simply cut the paper sheets into flame shapes and glue inside the cone opening.

While your children may have seen highlights of the opening ceremony, including the lighting of the final symbolic torch, they may not realize that the torch had been carried across Canada’s beautiful landscape for 106 days (45,000 km)! Take a moment to view a video documenting just a few highlights throughout the breathtaking Journey of the 2010 Olympic Torch. Then, have fun discussing these interesting facts.

  • The torch was originally lit during a special ceremony in Olympia, Greece. It was then carried on an airplane all the way to Canada.
  • Nearly 12,000 people helped carry the torch across Canada.
  • The torch passed through more than 1,000 communities and special sites.
  • The torch was carried for more than 100 days.
  • Torch bearers carried the torch in many unique ways, including bike, canoe, paddle wheeler, and on top of the Grouse Mountain Sky Ride.
  • Anyone could apply to be a torch bearer. Even teams of up to 20 people could work together to carry the torch. And guess what — kids carried the torch too!
  • The torch relay was added to games the 1930s, but the tradition of burning a torch at the Olympics dates all the way back to the original Greek games.