Day 22: A Little Angel Did It!

image by artsopure.com.au

If this beautiful photograph by artsopure.com.au doesn’t inspire you to wear wings, I don’t know what will. Help your little ones learn the importance of practicing kindness, even when no one is around to see. For the entire day, they should sneak around and practice random acts of kindness. When asked, “Did you make your sister’s bed?” They should say, “A little angel did it!”

 

Help point out ideas so they can learn to look for opportunities such as cleaning up the toys, taking the dish to the sink after dinner, sharing the last cookie, etc. It won’t take long for the lesson to sink in: kindness is fun! And it’s even better when it’s given without being recognized for the effort.

 

Day 21: Good Morning, Love!

image from frostmeblog.blogspot.com

Rise and shine! It’s time to put a little love in those tummies with this terrific idea from frostmeblog.com . Simply unroll refrigerated cinnamon rolls and reshape into hearts. Bake as directed and wait for the smiles!

Day 20: Add a Little Magic to the Bathtub

image from pinterest.com

Who says elves don’t take baths? Reindeer too? This is how they bathe in the North Pole! Drop dollarstore glowsticks into the water and dim the lights for an absolutely polar-ific tubtime!

 
 
 

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

Home Filled with Love

craft3

The greatest compliment I ever received was when a new friend visited my home for the first time. She walked past our new dining room table without even a second glance. She never noticed that I had vacuumed the floors and dusted the furniture before her arrival. She was not impressed with the scrubbed bathrooms and spotless kitchen sink. The lit candles and freshly cut blooms from our gardens were practically ignored.

Instead, she took time to view our family photographs and to investigate the finger painted artwork displayed proudly on our walls. She didn’t even seem to mind joining us when my children and I habitually nestled ourselves on the living room floor instead of on the sofa.

As my children bounced about donning dress-up clothes, my guest offered the kindest words I’ve ever heard: “This house is filled with so much love.”

That’s when I knew we’d surely be friends. She seemed to understand that clean floors and expensive furniture only decorate the surface of our lives. The real stuff – the toys on the floor, the crayon marks on the wall, and the sound of laughter in our home – is more important than perfect appearances.

When I meet new friends, I welcome them to visit our home at anytime. Then, I offer a warning I learned from my grandmother: “Sometimes the house is clean. Sometimes it isn’t. If you’re coming to see us, come without warning. If you’re coming to see the house, call ahead.”

Like most people, I like my home to be clean and free of clutter. I prefer things to be sanitized and orderly. But more than that, I want my home to be a haven for happiness, for love, and for laughter.

I want my children and their friends to feel free here to be themselves. I want them to have unrestricted access to their inner joys and imaginations. I want them to understand, that while we do have some rules, we also have fun.

Our home rules are simple:

  1. Furniture is for resting (and for making camps).
  2. Walking feet are best (unless “Simon Says” otherwise).
  3. Inside voices are heard first.
  4. Please, use your manner words.
  5. Be kind and considerate.
  6. Use your imagination.
  7. Be happy and have fun!

Today, let’s try not to focus on the baseboards and bathtub rings. Instead, let’s make sure our homes are filled with love.

How to Find Laughter in the Leaves

leaf pile

If you haven’t raked the leaves yet this year, what are you waiting for? Besides the fabulous workout, there’s nothing more fun than playing in the leaves. For our family, creating a gigantic leaf pile is a favorite annual tradition.

Young children can rake a big pile under the slide or swing set. Slide down into the pile, or jump from the swing for a super-soft landing. (Caution: Please be sure to remove all sticks and stones.)

Now that my kids are older, they rake an enormous pile under the treehouse. Then they jump from the top and feel like they’re flying. I DON’T recommend this for sane parents…but I never claimed sanity as my strong point. (Again, be sure to remove sticks and stones.)

The options are endless. Make mazes, camps, or caves. Write your name or make pretty designs in the yard. Bury each other in the leaves. Let the family dog pretend to be “Rescue Dog” and find the kids under the leaves (Ellie could have done this for days!).

This is also a super sensory experience for children.

  • Crunch the leaves with your hands and bare feet.
  • Listen to the sound they make.
  • Pay attention to the way they feel, smell, and look.
  • Talk about the different shapes, and see what kinds of shadows you can make by holding different leaves out in the sun.
  • Guess which tree the leaves fell from, and teach your children the difference between familiar trees such as Oaks and Maples.
  • Point out evergreens such as pines and cedars.
  • Take a nap on a blanket of leaves.

Turn your family’s annual chore into a fun tradition, and be sure to share your ideas with others here.

j

Create Fun Family Traditions This Thanksgiving Season

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart  

 

We all know that Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and pie. It’s a time to gather with loved ones and count our many blessings. It’s also the perfect time to create meaningful family traditions. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

 

Thankful Tree
Teach your children the importance of gratitude by creating a unique advent calendar. Throughout Thanksgiving, write a list of blessings for which you are grateful. Include as many loved ones as possible in this challenge. Help children use cookie cutters to trace 30 leaf shapes onto autumn-colored construction paper and carefully cut out the leaves.

Write one item from your “thankful list” on each leaf. Use butcher paper or poster boards to create a brown (child-height) tree trunk, and affix it to your child’s bedroom door, playroom wall, or family area. Children can tape leaves on the top of the tree trunk, one for each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each morning, one leaf can be read as it “falls from the tree.” This will help your children understand the changing seasons and focus on the true meaning of the holidays as they count down to Christmas one “thank-you” at a time.
 
Pilgrim Voyage

Designate one older child to represent the “New World.” Another child represents the Mayflower. All remaining children represent rocks, waves, or islands as they sit, stand, or lie on the ground between the two. The New World calls out directions to guide the ship (whose eyes are closed). The ship cannot speak or peek as it crosses the dangerous sea to the New World.

Thanksgiving Theater
Does your holiday television display a festive Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or competitive NFL games? This year, considering hosting your own “Funniest Home Videos” contest. Invite guests to bring their most comical clips to share, and be prepared to laugh hysterically.

A Lucky Break

Don’t forget to make a wish! After you’ve deboned the turkey for day-after gumbo or soup, choose two children to each take one end of the wishbone. They close their eyes, make a wish, and pull! Ending up with the larger part of the bone means the wish will come true. This is known as a “lucky break” and supposedly dates all the way back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C.

Jump in big leaf piles, take a family walk while hunting for holiday symbols in your neighborhood, or sit back and play family board games. With a little imagination, you can create very special Thanksgiving traditions for your little ones. Who knows? They might just pass some down to their own kids some day.

This content was distributed through my monthly newsletter. To receive monthly updates, family activities, and more, subscribe to my newsletter in the right hand column of my blog.