‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’
– Albert Einstein
The United Nation’s International Peace Day is on September 21st. This holiday is meant to promote peace and unity throughout the world. Here are some ideas of how you can celebrate Peace Day with Your kids.
1. Read Books that Inspire Peace and Unity
There are many great books to inspire both peace and unity. You can check out our favorite books HERE in the Kids in Service Book Corner.
2. Observe a Minute of Silence
Many schools and organizations will pause for one minute of silence at noontime on September 21st. This minute is a time to reflect upon all those around the world and the importance of celebrating our similarities and differences. Encourage your kids to spend the minute with you in silence and reflection.
3. Draw Pictures of Peace
It’s time to break out the art supplies or sidewalk chalk and allow your kids to draw pictures of what PEACE looks like to them.
4. Write a Peace Day Pledge
What can you as a family do to promote peace in your house, your neighborhood, your community and the world? Create a Peace Day Pledge that you can come back to again and again throughout the year.
“The Peace Crane Project invites every student on the planet to fold an origami crane, write a message of peace on its wings, then exchange it with another student somewhere in the world. The Project builds friendships, strengthens hand-eye coordination and writing skills, teaches geography, exposes students to new languages and cultures, and EMPOWERS YOUTH to make a difference in their community, country, and world. Classrooms, teachers, students, schools, community groups, and individuals are welcome. It’s FREE to participate!” Check out their website to learn more!
Todd Parr is a genius when it comes to explaining BIG topics to little kids. In The Peace Book his simple language and bright pictures help children to understand what peace means in this world. This book can be found in many forms including board book for the youngest readers in your house.
Peace Train is a picture book that illustrates Cat Stevens’ popular song. Peter Reynolds is a favorite around here and he is the illustrator of these beautiful illustrations. Down below you will find a YouTube read aloud link of Cat Stevens “singing” this book! It is wonderful.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace is a beautiful true story about hope and determination.
From the publisher: “As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans . . .
This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.”
Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz is a book about International Peace Day. This book shares different ways to say “PEACE” in different languages around the globe. The bright illustrations and simple language make it a great book for all young children.
Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox is a beautiful book that explains the meaning of peace and it’s importance. It explains in simple ways what peace looks like in our everyday lives and how kids can share peace with others. It also talks about finding peace in times of sadness and tragedy.
peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin is a beautiful book that explores the concept of peace and how we can bring it to our world. In the book kids will learn that idea of peace starts with our own hearts. This book includes activities and encourages kids to explore peace through the 5 senses.
In the book Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, two pen pals who live across the globe from each other discover how they may live in different countries but they have so many similarities.
This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe explores the life of 7 different children from around the world. This book shows the similarities and differences as we explore where these children live, what they wear, their families, what they eat and so much more.
This article was written in September 2019, some of the suggestions may need to be modified because of the current pandemic.
September is a month of big changes for many children. Kids are going back to school, meeting new teachers, starting new sports teams or clubs, learning new homework routines and trying to stay awake as their bodies adjust to the new pace that is September. Given all of these changes that our kids are facing, we at Kids in Service decided to spend time this month talking about bravery and courage. Here is a list of 10 ways to help your children work on becoming more brave and courageous this fall.
1. Volunteer–Volunteering takes a lot of bravery and courage. Each time I set out with my kids to serve our community, my heart is pounding. I often share this fact with my children and they are always surprised to hear that I am just as nervous as they are. Volunteer at your local nursing home and bring a little joy to the residents there. Bring some board games to play with them or ask about what life was like when they were younger. Find a local trash pick up at a park or beach. Volunteer for your local food bank, church or animal shelter. The opportunities are out there if you look for them. Check out some other ideas here and here.
2. Read Stories with Brave Characters–Reading aloud stories is a wonderful and safe way for children of ALL AGES to get to “experience” difficult situations from a safe distance through the characters in the story. Check out our KIS list of books with BRAVE characters. I hope that these books will spark rich conversations with your children about the topic of bravery, fear and courage.
3. Share Your Own Stories of Bravery and Failure–A great way for children to learn about bravery is to hear about the moments in your life that you were brave and courageous. Our children need to know that we are human and that we feel the same emotions they do. Share those moments where you overcame fear, share the moments where you failed at something but you were brave and tried again. My kids love to hear the story about when I fell off of a horse while horseback riding. I did NOT want to get back on that horse but after a lot of encouragement from my family, I was brave and got back on. Share your own stories with your kids and allow them to learn about bravery from the people they love most.
4. Trying New Things as a Family–Sit down as a family and brainstorm a list of new things that you could try together. Perhaps you want to try new foods or a new activity. Maybe you want to learn how to play a new sport, or learn a new language. Try one new thing together and then come together to discuss how it went. How did you feel before the activity? Were you nervous, scared or excited? How did you feel after you completed it? Three winters ago, we learned to cross country ski. We took lessons as a family and cheered each other on as we took turns falling and taking on the harder hills. It was a wonderful family experience that took a lot of courage and patience. Perhaps you could set a goal as a family to try new things every season.
5. Make a Courage Board–We have a chalkboard in our downstairs hall that says, “Love Lives Here”. This board was inspired by Sweet Maria Goff and her beautiful book Love Lives Here. In her book Maria shares about the chalkboard that has hung in her home for decades. Her family chalkboard has been a place for positive messages of encouragement and love for the members of their family and guests in their home. On our chalkboard we welcome people into our home, share messages of encouragement to one another and share uplifting quotes of bravery and courage. This board is one of my favorite parts of my home and I love to see the sweet messages that my husband and children write on the board.
6. Watch Movies with Brave Characters–Quality movies, just like books, are not only a great way to spend time as a family but can provoke great discussions about important topics. Here is a list of movies from common sense media that inspire courage. This list has movies for ages 2 and up.
7. Visit a New Place–One of our favorite things to do as a family is to explore a new place. It is so important for EVERYONE to step out of their comfort zone and experience new things. Visiting a new place (whether it is within driving distance or further away) allows you to work as a family to navigate, find information, discover what that place has to offer and share a common experience. If you live near a big city, try visiting one of the neighborhoods that you have never visited before. You may experience new foods, a new language and see some amazing sites along the way. Share with one another the feelings you experience as you set off on this new adventure and then compare them to the the feelings that you have as make the journey back home.
8. Invite New Friends Over-Making new friends can be scary for many kids (and adults). You can model how to overcome this fear by inviting new people over to your home for coffee or a meal. Showing our kids the importance of community, kindness and making new friends is a powerful way for them to learn how to show compassion and make friends in their own lives.
9. Research a Person from History who was Brave–We are BIG history buffs in our family and one of our favorite things to learn about is the brave people who have come before us. We all LOVE Brad Meltzer’s books in his Ordinary People Change the World series. They are fun and filled with information about the courage that people like Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller and many more had to change the world. There are so many good biographies, memoirs and documentaries out there. Encourage each member of your family to learn about a brave person from history. Host a special family dinner where you each share about the person’s life and how they showed bravery and courage.
10. Solve a Problem as a Family–A great way to show how to overcome fear and obstacles is to work as a family to solve a problem. Scavenger Hunts are a fun way to work as a team to solve problems. You can create a scavenger hunt for your family around your home or you can purchase an online scavenger hunt. Let’s Roam has scavenger hunts for most major cities (this is not an advertisement) and it is a fun way to explore a new city or a city you already know very well. Finding a challenge to solve as a family can also be a lot of fun. Destination Imagination has something called Instant challenges and they have 4 free challenges listed at this link. Cooperative Games are another fun way to work as a family. My family loves Gamewright games and the Forbidden series of games are cooperative and challenging. For Harry Potter fans, Hogwarts Battle Cooperative Game is very challenging and requires lots teamwork. My kids and I LOVE this game and are still working to beat game 5 out of 7.
It is hard not to smile when you look at the children’s artwork on this page. In January, our Kids in Service NH group painted cheerful paintings for the patients at a hospice house. Volunteers visit the residents and ask if they would like to choose one of our paintings to cheer up their room. The painting of their choice gets hung on their bulletin board and it is our hope that everyone who visits their room is brought a little joy in a very difficult situation.
This spring, we partnered with the hospice house again and painted small terra cotta pots. I sealed each one with glaze and then we planted a flower in each pot. The 20 pots were delivered to the patients staying at the hospice house and other hospice patients around the community.
Creating artwork to cheer up hospice patients is a WONDERFUL service project for all ages. You could paint uplifting paintings, make blank greeting cards with the children’s drawings on the front or paint pots like we did. I recommend that you reach out to the volunteer coordinator at your local hospice house and see if they would like children’s art donations.
Hospice is a very difficult and sad concept for young children. I suggest that you tell your children that you are painting happy art for people who are sick in the hospital. That is all they need to know to be invested in this project. I am sure that their art donation will not only bring a little joy into the patient’s heart but the hearts of their family as well.
The books below are meant to inspire your children to make a difference in their community. These books are filled with characters (many of them real) who looked at problems in their own homes, communities and in the greater world and decided to take action and serve. We hope that you will enjoy these stories and that they will lead you to your own service projects this month (this post contains affiliate links, see info below).
CLICK HERE for our FREE Kids in Service Printable Booklist. Happy Reading!
Grandpa’s Corner Store by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan is a story about the struggle that small businesses have with larger box stores coming in to town. The box stores have cheaper prices and more variety and this makes it hard for the smaller stores to compete. In this story, Lucy is determined to help her grandpa’s store to survive once the big new grocery store comes to town. She rallies the neighborhood in this feel-good story. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena is one of my favorite stories! The little boy is not happy about having to make the long weekly journey on the bus with his grandmother and spends his time looking out the window thinking about all of the things that he doesn’t have. Grandma helps him to see all that he does have during there ride. In the end he is grateful that they made the long journey to to the soup kitchen to help others! This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Can a Cookie Change the World? by Rhonda Boiling –This is a new book to me and I absolutely LOVED it. What a great message for children that they CAN make a big difference in their community (and the world). Tessa at age 7, wanted to help the local homeless population and decided to raise money at the local Christmas Bazaar by baking cookies. This small idea turned into a cause that the community has rallied behind and Kids Cookie’s for a Cause has raised thousands of dollars for many different charities and causes. Tessa is an INCREDIBLE kid! This book would be perfect or ages 5 and up and 70% of the proceeds of this book, go to charity!
Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood–This book of poems highlights 14 women of history who shook things up and helped to make a difference in this world. Each page has a beautiful illustration, a different type of poem about a little blurb of history about the woman’s contribution to our world. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
The reading of this book really begins at the 1 minute 51 second mark 🙂
Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner is the story of a real-life hero, Cornelius Washington. Cornelius was a street sweeper in New Orleans and was always spreading joy wherever he worked with his fun tricks and large smile. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Cornelius was determined to clean up his beautiful city. He quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of work that needed to be done. That is when the neighborhood rallies together and volunteers come from around the globe to help him clean up New Orleans. This book is a heartwarming story about a man who made the world a better place by not only keeping the streets clean but also with his loving heart and kind soul. I would recommend this book to ages 4 and up.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams is a great example that you can make a BIG difference right in your own home if you work hard and make sacrifices. The main character does come home with her mother to a house fire. This may be scary for some young children but is done in a gentle way and shows the love of the community and neighborhood and how they rallied around the family after they lost everything. This book is about family, love, kindness and hard work. I would recommend this book to ages 5 and up.
Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee–The world can be a scary place and the news is filled with sad and upsetting stories. This simple book is about how one family chooses to put aside their fears, live their life and spread kindness along the way. This book would be good for children ages 5 and up.
As I have said before, we are HUGE Brad Meltzer fans in our house. We love the Ordinary People series and we have read almost all of them. I am Jane Goodallis a kid friendly biography of scientist and environmental activist Jane Goodall. Jane did not follow a straight and narrow path to becoming a scientist. She followed her passion and love of animals and learned so much about the importance of patience and perseverance in her work with chimpanzees. Jane has made a big difference in this world and she continues to inspire generations to take care of our planet and the creatures that share the earth with us. I recommend this book to children ages 5+.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind picture book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer is the true story of 14 year old William Kamkwamba and his effort to help his village during a terrible drought. William spent all of his free time trying to figure out how to bring electricity to his village and using junk scraps, built a windmill. This book would be great for ages 6 and up.
One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is the true story of a woman named Isatou Ceesay who took on the growing problem of trash in her village in Gambia. The trash littering the streets was killing goats (who ate plastic bags), caused malaria outbreaks and created a terrible smell. Isatou decided she could no longer ignore this problem and gathered a group of women to recycle the trash and turn it into treasure. I love the beautiful illustrations in this book and the powerful message is one that all people over age 3 should hear. You can learn how to make your own plastic bag purse by clicking HERE.
Love by Matt De La Pena—This BEAUTIFUL book is on my list of FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF ALL TIME. This story illustrates the many versions of love found through out this world. Love knows no boundaries and can be found all around us. The beautiful text and illustrations in this book show just that. This would be a great book for ages 3 and up.
If You’re Going to a March by Martha Freeman is a sweet and simple book to introduce young children to the idea of being part of a march/protest. This book will not only explain what it means to protest peacefully but will answer any questions they may have about the process (where do we park? where do we go to the bathroom etc.). Best of all this book will put aside any worries or fears that they may have about being part of the event. I would recommend this book to budding activists age 5 and up 🙂
Birthday’s come but once a year and are a great reason to celebrate another trip around the sun. Unfortunately for some, birthdays are an added expense that can not be afforded. With a few simple items and a shoebox, you can create a birthday box to bless someone in need with a grand celebration.
What do you need for a birthday box?
1 box of cake mix
1 tub of frosting
birthday candles (no matches)
1-2 decorations (balloons, banner, streamers and/or party hat etc.)
small unisex toys or favors (stickers, crayons, markers, toy ball, small LEGO etc.)
a shoebox or small plastic rectangular box
We donated the birthday boxes we made to our local food bank and they distributed them out to families in need. This is an easy project for all ages and can make a big difference in the life of a child. You could even make this a tradition to put birthday boxes together on your children’s birthday. Everyone deserves the chance to celebrate their birthday.
Meet Bella, a third grader from Kentucky who builds birthday boxes to ensure that the children in her school are all able to celebrate their birthdays! What an INCREDIBLE kid!!
“The Birthday Box is a “party in a box” that is anonymously delivered to children who may not otherwise have a celebration on their special day.”
March is one of my family’s favorite months of the year. This is because we LOVE to follow theIditarod. What is the Iditarod you ask? The Iditarod is a 938 mile, Alaskan sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers take teams of 16 dogs on an 8-15 day race through the Alaskan wilderness. This race commemorates Balto and the great Serum Race that happened in 1925. The Great Serum Race involved many mushers and dog teams in a relay to deliver medicine to Nome to battle a diphtheria outbreak.
The Iditarod started in 1973 to keep the sport of sled dog racing alive. Dogs and mushers all test their strength and ability during the race and try to be the first to cross through the arch in Nome. Animal safety is of the utmost importance during the Iditarod and all animals are checked carefully at each checkpoint by veterinarians. Mushers develop such tight bonds with their teams of dogs and most of them treat their dogs like family.
This year over 50 teams will leave on the first Saturday in March for the Ceremonial Start from Anchorage. This part of the race is broadcast for FREE on the Iditarod website. The official start happens the next day and my children and I will be glued to the GPS tracker on the Iditarod website, as we follow our favorite Mushers through the race.
In honor of the Iditarod, we wanted to share some of our favorite Animal Service Projects (click on the picture above) and our family’s favorite Iditarod books. Click on the book pictures below to learn more.
This is my FAVORITE Iditarod book of all time. I have read this book so many times and still cry at the end. This book is about a teamwork, determination and the love and trust between animals and humans. This story is sure to have you cheering on Akiak and would be perfect for children ages 3 and up.
This book was written by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985. This book is the true, historic story of that race and includes photographs and beautiful illustrations. Storm Run is an inspirational story of a determined woman and her beloved dog team, who fought their way to victory. I would recommend this book for anyone ages 4 and up.
This is another great Iditarod story that puts you on the trail with the dogs and musher. This book was written by Shelly Gill, who was the fifth woman to ever complete the Iditarod. This book is based off of her experience and is filled with the action that these teams face on the trail. This book would be great for children ages 3 and up.
The Iditarod race commemorates the Great Serum Race from 1925 where mushers and dog teams set up a relay to get medicine to Nome for a diphtheria outbreak. The hero of the Great Race is Balto. You can learn more about his brave story and of the Great Serum Race is in this book. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Jack and Annie fans will love this tale of Balto, the famous sled dog. We are BIG Magic Treehouse fans in this house and this book was exciting from start to end. Magic Treehouse books are fun and engaging ways for children to learn about historic times. This book and the rest of the series would be great for children ages 5 and up.
This great book will bring you behind the scenes of the life of an Iditarod sled dog. You will learn about their training, their care, their determined spirits and the love and trust they share with their human mushers. These dogs are some of the most athletic animals in the world and this book is filled with dog facts and beautiful photographs. This book would be great for ages 3 and up. Younger listeners will enjoy the pictures and a brief summary of the text.
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the image of the books above you will be taken to Amazon. 20% of all profits made through this site will be donated to our charity of the season. You can see the current charity on our Book Corner page. Thank you for supporting our site and a very noble charity.)
All of us want to find time in our busy lives for service projects. We know how important it is to teach our children the valuable lessons that go along with serving others (empathy, kindness, gratitude, courage, selflessness etc.) but unfortunately those well meaning service projects are the first thing cut off the to-do list when life gets too hectic.
Here are 10 QUICK service projects that you can do with your kids TODAY, with items you have around the house. All of them can be completed in under an hour. I hope that this list inspires to you start a service project TODAY and learn as a family the valuable lesson of serving others.
Project Dollar Store--This is a family favorite and a project we do at least once a year. A dollar may not seem like much but this simple project can make a big difference in someone’s life. Click HERE to learn more about this SECRET MISSION OF LOVE!
2. Project Appreciation--For this SWEET project you need to gather everyone in the kitchen and think of a community group that you would like to thank. Click HERE for more details about this MISSION OF APPREICATION.
3. Make Placemats for Meals on Wheels–This is a project for all ages (well anyone who can hold a crayon or paint brush). First, click on the Meals on Wheels website and contact your local Meals on Wheels. Ask them if you and your family could make placemats for their clients. We have done this and it is an easy and fun service project. Gather some thicker paper (we used card stock) and some art supplies. My Kids Community Service club has done this a few times and all of the children (ages 2 and up) colored happy pictures to make the seniors smile while they ate their lunch. I mailed in our placemats but Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to help deliver the lunches (and kids are welcome to participate). If you homeschool, have younger kids or are looking for a summer project, contact your local Meals on Wheels about donating your time.
4. Make a Kindness Jar--This is the Kindness Jar that sits near our dining table. My children made it with our kids community service group last winter and it is always out as a constant reminder to think of others and BE KIND. Click HERE to learn how you and your family can make your own Kindness Jar. The post includes a FREE Printable of Kind Deeds to fill your jar with.
5. Collection for the Homeless–People who are homeless are always in need of gently used clothing (especially warm clothing in the cold winter months), new toiletries or toys that are in good shape. Give everyone in your family a bag or a box and challenge them to fill it with as many quality items as they can. Once you fill your bags or boxes drop them off at the local homeless shelter. This service project is not only helping people in need but it is also challenging the family to declutter. This is a win-win in my book!
6. Clean Up Your Neighborhood–Grab a few trash bags, some work gloves and head out in your neighborhood or to your local park. It always SHOCKS me how careless people are with their trash. My husband does a mini clean up of our street with the kids once a month because of all the trash that the passing cars leave behind. This is an easy and important service project for your community.
7. Make a Christmas Jar–This project can be done at ANY TIME of year. We started our third Christmas jar right after Christmas but our first jar was started only a month before the big day. Click HERE to learn about this WONDERFUL family project.
8. Write Letters to Soldiers-This project is so easy to do and younger kids can team up with older kids or parents to make this a family project. If you know someone in the military, consider making writing letters to them a regular activity. If you do not know someone in the military, consider writing letters and sending them through A Million Thanks. This site has drop off locations across the USA for letters and cards. Here is what one solider had to say about this wonderful organization:
“I want to say thank you for what you are doing for all of us, and especially for the men and women overseas that take comfort in knowing people like you are thinking about them.”
9. Project Sticky Note–This is such a fun and simple project. All you need are some sticky notes and writing tools. Write a lot of different uplifting messages on the sticky notes (“You are Special”, “You are Loved”, “You are Beautiful”, etc.). Now comes the fun part, put the sticky notes in places where you think people may need an uplifting message. We have hid them in library books, hung them on mirrors in public restrooms and put them on car windows on a dry day. You can have the kids hang them on school lockers or even hand them out to people who look like they may need a pick me up. My husband often leaves us sticky notes if he is going away on business. It always makes us smile to find the notes of love and encouragement. The key to this project is to make sure that you do not litter and that you are always respectful.
10. Write a Thank You Note--Have you thanked your parent or care giver lately? Have you thanked your teacher, your coach, bus driver or librarian for all they do for you? Did you recently receive a gift? EVERYONE loves mail! Bless one or more people in your life with a card or note thanking them for all they do to help and support you. This is a project for all ages, as the littles can draw and adults can scribe the note of thanks and gratitude. Make writing thank you notes a regular practice in your home. This simple activity will teach an important lesson in gratitude, respect and connection (not to mention it will help them practice their writing).