This year our local Kids in Service NH meetings will be held virtually in order to keep everyone safe. Because of this we’d like to welcome ALL families near and far to join us. Our theme for the year will be Bravery and Persistence and we will over FREE videos for your children.
Kids in Service Virtual meetings will officially begin in October. We will have KIS Junior videos (ages 10 and under) that will be posted monthly (October-May). KIS Teen/Pre-Teen videos will be posted every other month (October, December, February, April). We have some great lessons and activities planned for this year and we hope that you will join us!
The meeting videos will be under 15 minutes and are meant to be low stress for parents. You can have your children just listen to the story/lesson and/or participate in one or both of the projects if you have the time. The projects can be done from the safety of your home and most can be done with materials around the house.
I hope that you and your children will enjoy these virtual meetings. I’d love to see pictures of your children participating in the meetings that I can share on our KIS social media pages. Kids who participate will be entered to win a monthly KIS giveaway. Thanks and happy serving!
Check out the two meetings we created last spring that are posted below.
May Meeting–I start off with the book One by Kathryn Otoshi, we make Birthday Boxes and make cards for the local nursing home (rainy day art project).
Earth Day Meeting–I start off reading the book Love the Earth by Julian Lennon, we make recycled art projects and clean up trash on our street.
We are living in uncertain times right now and one of the best ways to combat feelings of anxiety and worry is to think of others. We may be social distancing but it is important to reach out and help people when we can. Below you will find ideas for 10+ service projects that you can do as a family at home. Many require very little materials and most are items you already have at home. It is our hope to help ease your anxiety (at least for a little bit) while you work together to help those in need.
We’d love to see pictures of you and your family serving others while social distancing. You can email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or share them on social media using the hashtag #kidsinservice. Thank you and stay safe!
Hearts for Healthcare Workers--Make hearts to hang on your door to support Healthcare Workers and First Responders. Let them know that you appreciate their hard work and sacrifice. This beautiful movement was started by the Russell Family, one of our Kids in Service NH families.
Send cards to the local nursing home–Local nursing homes are not allowing visitors and the residents would love some artwork and cheer from the outside. Contact your local nursing home to see if they are open to cards to cheer up their residents. If you are sick or have anyone in your home who may be sick, please avoid this activity. We would hate to spread germs through the mail.
Virtual Talent Show–Many seniors live alone or are in quarantine in their nursing home and assisted living facilities. Let’s bring a little joy to their lives while keeping our kids busy. Post an act of your child performing a talent that they may have (comedy, dance, magic, musical performances…the sky is the limit). Please keep your video under 2 minutes long and let’s help spread some joy to the seniors who are sheltering in place right now.
Do a Trash Pick Up of your street–Our streets are littered with trash, especially those of us who just had the snow melt. Grab some gloves and trash bags and head out to pick up trash with your kids. Please use common sense and do not bring your children out onto busy roads.
Record an Uplifting Message for Make a Wish–Many kids are the most vulnerable during this time and many of their wishes have been postponed. Consider recording an uplifting message for these kids as a family. Click HERE to learn more.
Sew Masks for Hospital Workers–Are you or your kids handy and have a sewing machine? There is a much needed demand for masks for healthcare workers and the public is being asked to lend a hand. Click HERE for more information on how you can help by making masks.
Make a No Sew Fleece Blanket for Project Linus–Order a blanket kit (or two) from JoAnn Fabric or another online retailer. Once it arrives, transform it into a warm and cozy blanket that can be donated to a child in crisis. If you can tie a knot, you can make a blanket!
Check in on your elderly neighbors and relatives-We may be quarantined but we can still use this time to connect with neighbors and loved ones. Call them on the phone, FaceTime if they are able or send cards to let them know you are thinking about them.
Start making Christmas cards for the Military Holiday Card Challenge–The deadline to send in your cards is the end of October but there is no reason why you can’t get started on them now. Put on some holiday music, get out the paper and markers and spread some holiday cheer to our military with a holiday card that thanks them for all of their hard work and sacrifice.
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.
Cut out Shoes for Sole Hope--Do you have old jeans laying around your house? Order a shoe party kit from Sole Hope and turn those jeans into future shoes for children in Uganda.
Kid Knits–Are you looking for a craft to keep your kids busy that supports others? Kid Knits was started by 9 year old Ellie who wanted to find a way to help support women in Rwanda by purchasing their yarn to knit hats with. Five years later she has a non-profit that supports women in Rwanda, Mexico, Chile and Kenya with her yarn and knitting kits. Click HERE to learn more about Kid Knits.
Start a Gratitude Project-It is important for all of us to focus on Gratitude during these uncertain times. Click HERE to find some ideas of ways that you and your family and focus on gratitude.
For the past two years my children and I have been working to include more mindful practices into our days. Practicing mindfulness is a lot like going to the gym. People go to the gym to exercise their muscles so that they will be strong and ready when they need them. Just like exercising your muscles, it is important to exercise deep breathing and being mindful. When you do this, you will better be able to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes your way.
Today I want to share with you a few of our favorite ways to practice mindfulness. We do not do all of these things daily but try to pick one or two each day to help us to center and focus. Practicing mindfulness daily has made such a big difference in our lives and I hope that it will help you and your kids too!
1. Mindful Jars
Mindful Jars are not only fun to make but they are a wonderful tool for children (and adults) to use when they are agitated and upset. We have a few Mindful Jars around the house and they are great for those moments when you just need to calm down. Give them a good shake and sit and watch the glitter settle to the bottom. Click Here to learn how to make your own Mindful Jars.
2. Breathing Exercises
Over the past few years we have learned a lot of deep breathing techniques. Many of our favorites were learned through the book by Kira Willey called, Breathe Like a Bear. We put our favorites breaths on slips of paper and put them in our breathing jar. At breakfast or dinner, we will take turns choosing one slip of paper and practice that days breath. Lion’s Breath and Candle breath are two of our favorites. Our daily breaths usually leave us in giggles but learning deep breathing techniques has greatly helped us in moments of stress.
3. Gratitude Journals
When my children were small we kept a Family Gratitude Journal. Each day we would record the things we were grateful for in the family journal. Now that they are older, we each have our own gratitude journals to mark the things we are blessed with. Focusing on gratitude forces you to live in the moment, be more present and research shows that gratitude leads to greater feelings of happiness.
4. Mindfulness Apps
There are so many mindfulness apps and programs that can help kids and parents to learn to breath deeply and self-regulate. Many of the apps offer guided meditations for both kids and adults. Our favorite apps are Mindful Powers, the Mightier Program and Headspace. Check out this post from Parenting Chaos for more apps that will help your children with practicing mindfulness.
5. Blowing Bubbles
When my kids were small, blowing bubbles was a regular activity. When energy levels were high or moods were cranky, I’d grab our bottle of bubbles and we’d head outside (or to the garage if the weather was not favorable). Watching bubbles is a fun way to practice being mindful. Bubbles are mesmerizing and kids can’t help but be present as they follow and try to catch them.
6. Body Scans
This is one of our favorite ways to practice mindfulness. Have your kids lie down and allow their bodies to sink heavy into the floor. Have them take a few deep breaths and encourage them to make their body feel heavy. Next have them squeeze all of their muscles tight. Have them squeeze their hands, their feet, their face, their toes…and squeeze and squeeze. Then after a few seconds have them release EVERYTHING and feel heavy. Ask them to pay attention to their body, how do they feel? Have them scan each body part and see how it feels. You can repeat this a few times or have them isolate muscles to squeeze from head to toe. It is such a great way to relax and help them learn to pay attention to the signals of their body. There are many guided meditations that will take you through a detailed body scan if you want to do it along with them.
7. Gratitude Walk
Take a quiet walk as a family and as you walk encourage each person to think of things that they are grateful for. Have them use their 5 senses to explore their surroundings as they walk and observe things in nature to be grateful for. Spend a few minutes in quiet and then take a break (maybe with a snack) to share all of the gratitude that was felt and everything that they noticed.
8. Coloring or Painting
My kids love to listen to audio books or classical music and color in coloring books or paint. There is something so relaxing about this process and it is a great way to encourage your children to be present. Children who struggle to stop moving to listen to a story or music, may enjoy the act of coloring, drawing or painting to help them focus on the what they are listening to. There is something about art that allows children to truly listen to the book or music that is being played for them.
9. Finding Your Heart Beat
Teach your children how to find their pulse (either in their neck or on their wrist). Have them count the beats in 10 seconds. Put on music and have them dance around for a minute or two. Have them check their pulse again. How much faster is their heart beating? Now take 5 deep breaths in and out and have them check their pulse again. How long does it take to return to a calm heartbeat? Explain how powerful breathing can be for our bodies.
10. Solo Sits
Have your children spread out around the house or yard and sit quietly for 30-60 seconds. You can add time on to the solo-sit each time they practice this activity. I love to do this on a hike in the woods and have the kids sit for 3-5 minutes. While they are sitting quietly, have them pay attention to the noises around them. Ask them these questions when they return. What sounds did you hear? Did you struggle to focus on listening for sounds? What were some loud sounds? What were some quiet sounds? How did you feel as you sat there silently?
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 🙂
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).