Blog, Earth Day, Earth Day Projects, Kindness, Service Projects for Families

Cradles to Crayons Organization

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I am so excited to have one of our INCREDIBLE kids writing for the site today!  Please welcome Chloe!  Chloe is 11 years old and wanted to share with you an amazing organization called Cradles to Crayons where she recently volunteered with her family and friends.  Cradles to Crayons has three locations in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.  Here is some background info about Cradles to Crayons (written by Chloe’s mom).

Cradles to Crayons is a non-profit organization that not only serves families in need, but provides opportunities to the wider community to contribute to this service in multiple ways. CtoC are masters of organization, and let volunteers know how their contribution of time, or items, or cash will help others.  Individuals, families, and any group or organization can sign up to sort books, toys, school and art supplies, personal care items, clothes and more for a two hour block of time. The CtoC staff explain how their work and the work you do as a volunteer will directly help families and children who face challenges many of us cannot even imagine. We can’t wait to return and bring new friends to share in this meaningful experience. Learn more here: https://www.cradlestocrayons.org/

Chloe’s Experience

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When I walked in for the first time, I saw hundreds and thousands of things.  It was like a big country with millions of islands!  We sat down at a table to decorate a birthday bag.  It feel very home like there.  The people assigned us to the book section, then the lady told us the rules.  One of them was don’t steal any of the books of course!  Another was no religion, holiday or family books because we don’t want to offend someone for what their culture or religion is.  And we don’t want to put in books about a family because that might make a little girl or boy feel bad about their circumstances.

One job was to sort books into their right age group, another was to make piles of books and put them in the finished age categories.  The age groups started at zero to two, up to eleven to twelve.  I did both jobs.

We were assigned to do this for two hours, sounds like a lot but when you start to get into  it, it feels more like 20 minutes!  I must have done over fifty piles of books.  One of the important rules was that kids zero to two must only aha board books, so they don’t hurt themselves.  And kids also zero to two must only have three books in their piles because they are younger so they won’t be doing that much reading.  And so three and up kids have five books in their piles.

Once it was over, I was really sad.  I was having an amazing time and I didn’t want to stop! But I had to, so I told my mom we have to come back here again soon!  We then proceeded back to the tables we started at and heard that our book group helped over 150 kids and their families!  And all the groups put together ended up helping over 900 kids and their families!

After that me and my friends couldn’t help ourselves, so we went back pretending my friend lost her bracelet but really, we just wanted to make more pies! The lady then caught us and asked us what we were doing (and of course I had a pile of books in my hands) and my friend said quickly; “Oh, I just lost my bracelet and I was hoping to find it, oh look it’s right here!” Then we scrammed!

I had so much fun.  It’s important to take a break from your life and remember that there are billions of kids and their families out there suffering while you may be sitting on your couch watching TV and eating amazing and delicious food.  While for some people, a bag of chips is dinner!  It feels really special to know that a little girl, boy, mom or dad is happy because of something you did!  So go to Cradles to Crayons to have that special experience!

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Blog, Kindness, Service Projects for Families

“We Were in the Way…”

Books for Earth Day

Yesterday the kids and I volunteered for a two hour shift at the local food bank.  We have volunteered here a few times before on weekends or in the evening and have had great experiences.  I signed up online a few weeks ago for a morning shift and we took a quick break from homeschooling to volunteer. After our time serving, my son summed up our experience when he said,  “Mom, we were in the way.”

When we arrived, one of the staff looked at us with recognition but great surprise.  “You signed up online for today?” she asked.  “Well, we will find something for you to do.”  The food bank was a well-oiled machine with twelve to fifteen adults who all had a purpose.   We were put in charge of sorting toiletries and spent 30 enjoyable minutes with a task that was meant for us (we turned it into a game which made it a lot of fun).

Once our task was complete, we went to find the staff member and ask for our next job.  She asked us to help sort produce and assuming we had done it before, left us with the task.  Thankfully the produce volunteers could smell our newness and guided us through the process.  This job was already well on it’s way to being done, throw in three new people (one of whom is a 9 year old daydreamer), a tight space and you can guess that we were more of a hindrance than a blessing.

We trudged on through our task and stayed until completion.  When the group took their lunch break, we made our exit.  Only an hour of our two was served but I don’t think any of them were sorry to see us go.

Some service experiences leave you feeling so good and others just so-so.  I told the kids that despite this experience, we will try another morning at the food bank.  If we go again, maybe we will start to learn more of the routines and soon add more value to the task.

I also think it is good for people of all ages to come together for one common goal and this food bank provides that.  There were seniors who couldn’t read the labels on the tiny shampoo and conditioner bottles (but we could), my 9 year old that just wanted to trade in the produce job for one sorting sugary pastries and lots of ages in between.  Together we unpacked the truck, organized the food  and completed an important task. I hope they won’t be sorry to see us coming back again.

 

Animal Service Projects, Animals, Kindness, Quick Service Projects, Service Projects for Families

Animal Service Projects

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Contact your local SPCA and Humane Society to see if they have any projects that you and your family can participate in.  Here are some suggestions from our local branch.

Host a Fundraiser–A lemonade stand is a great way for kids to raise money to support the animal shelters in your area.  Our center will even allow families to sign up for a date and time to host the lemonade stand at the center.  Other fundraiser ideas are bake sales, change drives or make and sell homemade dog treats and cat toys.

Make Blankets or Cat Toys--Many shelters are looking for 2x3ft  fleece blankets for the dog cages.  Children can easily make tie blankets following these directions (keep in mind that these dog blankets will be much smaller).  Catnip socks are another easy project that kids can work on to deliver to the local shelter.  Here are the directions for catnip socks.  Here is a link to order catnip in bulk.

Organize a Food and Supply Drive–Most shelters have a wishlist of supplies that they are in need of.  Work as a family to organize a pet food and supply drive. Make collection boxes and ask local businesses to put them out for you.  Create fliers to hang up around town, write a letter to the editor in the newspaper and have parents announce the drive through email and social media.

Host a Birthday Party to Benefit the Shelter–Have your child help you to create an animal themed birthday party to celebrate their birthday.  Instead of gifts, have each party guest bring a donation for the animal shelter.  After the party, create a special moment for your child to deliver the donations to the shelter.

Volunteer Your Time--Many shelters have opportunities for families and older children to volunteer their time.  Our shelter has family days once a month where children and a caregiver can sign up to volunteer.  They also have programs for teens to volunteer weekly in the center.  Check out your local shelter and see if there is a way that you and your family can donate your time.

What service projects can you recommend to fellow animal lovers? 

(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 LOVE Does.  Thank you for supporting our site and a very noble charity.)  

featured, Gratitude, Kindness, Quick Service Projects

10 Quick Projects You Can Start TODAY!

10 Quick Family Service Projects You can Start TODAY

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.

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  1. 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!

72.  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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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).

 

Blog, Gratitude, Kindness

Learning to Let Go

 

For the past 4 years I have run a local kids community service group.  These monthly meetings are a lot of work to prepare for but such a joy to run.  We visit a nursing home every other month and then on the opposite months participate in age appropriate service projects.  I am a former teacher and these monthly meetings with families fill me up and keep me invested in this important work that I am doing.  I love working with children and showing them that they can make a difference in this world no matter how old they are.

Despite the joy that these meetings bring, the day of the event always leaves me nervous and a little discouraged.  The day of our meetings, we always have families drop out last minute due to illness, school projects and other commitments.  I understand that unexpected events come up and people need to cancel (I have had to cancel commitments last minute in the past) but it is hard to watch the names on my list dwindle down each meeting day. It makes me question why I am working so hard and spending so much time preparing for these events?  How do I not disappoint the people we are trying to serve when families continue to cancel last minute?

One day at the nursing home, we only had 5 out of 15 children signed up attend (one was a baby).  That particular day we had more seniors come to the party than we had ever had before.  I struggled to make it seem like we had more children as I spread them out to three different tables.  When I was asked to hold the baby, I paraded him around the room so all of the residents could “ooh” and “ah” at him.  I was so tired and exhausted after that meeting, trying to make sure everyone was having a good time despite our low numbers.

Just last week we had 25 children sign up for our nursing home visit.  This was an all time record number and only 5 people let me know ahead of time that they weren’t going to attend.   The nursing home had forgotten we were coming and so we frantically set up the room to prepare for the largest group ever.  In the end, only 7 of the 20 children attended (2 of them were my own). I was so discouraged and I kept one eye on the door for most of the visit (where was everybody?).  I was so distracted and upset that I almost did not notice the joy right in front of me.

During that visit, one of the residents could sense my distraction and she invited me to sit with her at her table.  She took my hands, looked deep into my eyes and thanked me for always bringing the children.  “You all bring the light each time you come and it is so wonderful to see children who want to spend time with their elders!”  She expressed her gratitude for these visits over the past 4 years and told me just how much she looks forward to them.  “You are doing good work Jessica, you are teaching these kids to be helpers.”

That special lady taught me a very important lesson, a lesson that I should have learned long ago. It does not matter how many children attend our meetings, all that matters is that we SHOW UP to serve.  I need to flip my perspective and focus on the good that we are doing, even if we have small numbers.  I need to let it go and not obsess over who is NOT there but focus on all the good that is right in front of me.

Showing up to serve is the most important part of what I am doing with this group.  Numbers will go up and down but I will continue to put my all into every meeting.  I truly believe that children can start to be helpers from the minute they are put on this earth.  These children are the light and I will continue to help them find places to serve and shine.

 

 

Blog, Kindness

Serving in the Park

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My stomach was in knots as I made the now familiar drive to the park.  The fears shared by family members raced through my head as we got closer and closer.  The arguments that I had shared with them, “No place is safe anymore, people get shot and hurt in schools, churches and malls.”, also went through my mind.  

I took a few deep breaths and thought about the faces of those we would serve today.  I thought of the interactions that my children would have with them and the smiles that my children would bring.  “The kids make me so happy.  They remind me of a time before I screwed up my life.”  This was important work we were a part of.  We were not only passing out lunches but giving out hope, love and kindness to these people who desperately need it.  

As we pulled in, the small crew of volunteers and the regular early birds were already assembled.  The knots started to unloosen as I reminded the kids to stay close and stay aware of their surroundings.  My son is 12, so this is easier for him to do.  My daughter, who is 9, is a bit of a free spirit and a day dreamer.  For her, it is important to keep a close eye on her and give her gentle reminders.  

The leader of our group said a prayer before the lunches were distributed.  He marveled at the beauty of God’s work here in the park every Friday.  It IS something to marvel, the community of love and gratitude is unlike anything I have experienced before.  Whether you are Christian or not, it does not matter.  There is a bigger force than all of us present in the park on Fridays.  The countless volunteers who make the lunches, the volunteers who show up every Friday no matter the weather to distribute them and the people being blessed by this action.  There are smiles, laughter, hugs and so many “Thank You’s”.  

My daughter had brought boxes of candy hearts to pass out with the lunches.  As people moved through the line she handed them a box and wished them a “Happy Valentine’s Day!”  This sweet gesture brought so many smiles and melted so many hearts on a frigid 17 degree day.  “You made my day child, God Bless you.” one woman said.  This is why we come to the park. 

Yes there are people strung out on drugs in the park, yes there are homeless people fighting for their lives in the park but at the end of the day we are all human.  We all need food, water, shelter and someone to care about us.  Fridays in the park provide food, water and a little hope and love.  

I know the next time that I drive to the park with my two children in the back seat, my stomach will once again be in knots.  I know that even if we go 100 times, it will still make me nervous as the fears of all of my family and society creep into my head.  I also know that this experience is good for all three of us. We have learned so much about the homeless epidemic in this country.  My children have seen the shelters first hand and understand that it doesn’t take much to end up this way.  My cousin died of a drug overdose, while homeless in a park, and he came from a family with money and love.  I want my children to see what life was like for him and the countless others who share this struggle.  It is good for us to connect with people, be part of a community and share the blessings we have been given with others.  We will keep showing up to the park, keep showing up to let the people there know that we care.  

Book Corner, Bravery and Courage, Kindness, Seasonal

Black History Month

“Even though we may have the different skin color, we’re still the same type of people, no matter what.” -Simsola 6th Grade–Global Citizen Video

February is a month of KINDNESS here at Kids in Service and also a time to celebrate our differences. As part of this celebration we wanted to take a moment and recognize Black History Month.  So many people have dedicated their lives to making sure that all people in our country have a voice.  They have fought (and continue to fight) for a world where everyone is respected and treated with kindness no matter their beliefs, the color of their skin, their gender, or their place in society.

As part of Black History MonthKids in Service would like to celebrate the people who have fought for civil rights in this country.  We have a lot of resources below that you can share with your children.  These books and movies are meant to be a springboard to have a conversation with your children about acceptance, bravery, respect, celebrating our differences and KINDNESS.

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Books

image.pngThe Ordinary People Change the World books by Brad Meltzer are well LOVED in our house.  I think my daughter has almost every one of them (she may be missing 2 or 3) and reads them daily.  I love them because they show that famous people who have changed the world are still people after all.  Most have have had to overcome a lot of adversity and challenges to make change happen.   Brad makes the world of biographies so much fun and the illustrations by Christoper Eliopoulos are wonderful.  They always hide the next famous person they are planning to write a biography for at the end of the book and it so much fun to hunt for them.  The Harriet Tubman book is my daughters favorite in the series.  She loved learning about how brave Harriet was and how many people she helped to escape slavery. This series also has books about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Jackie Robinson for Black History Month.  Ages 5 and up

image.pngI use to read this book every February in my 2nd and 3rd grade class.  It is a wonderful story of Rosa Parks life and how her one courageous act started a civil rights movement.  This book would be great to share with children ages 6 and up.  There is a lot of information in this book and it is a great springboard to a rich conversation about segregation and prejudice.  I am a strong believer that a good picture book can be used for children in ANY grade (even high school) and I believe that this is one of them.

image.pngThis beautiful book tells the tale of Peg Leg Joe, an old white sailor, and the song he use to teach slaves about the Underground Railroad.  This book tells the tale of one family as they follow the words to Peg Leg Joe’s song and escape their life of slavery.    The Drinking Gourd is a gentle book about this difficult subject and would be great  for children ages 6 and up.

 

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This is another wonderful biography that I use to read to my 2nd and 3rd grade class every year.  Martin’s Big Words is the biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was written for children ages 5 and up.  This beautiful biography is easy for children to understand,  has beautiful illustrations and weaves Dr. King’s famous words throughout it.

 

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This book celebrates the lives of 40 African American women.  These brave and inspirational women have made a difference in our world. Each woman has a page long biography and a full page sweet illustration of them.  This is part of the Little Leaders and Dreamers series by Vashti Harrison.  This is a wonderful resource and would be great for ages 8 and up.

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Here’s a book for the little ones.  This board book is a younger version of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.  This shorter and simpler book celebrates the lives of 18 African American woman.  The sweet illustrations and language in this book make it a wonderful story to share with young children.  It is never to early to encourage children to be brave and follow their dreams.

 

Movies

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  1. Garretts Gift--This 17 minute movie can be found FREE on Netflix.  The movie tells the story of African American inventor Garrett Morgan’s life.  Garrett Morgan is responsible for inventing the traffic signal, the gas mask, chemical hair straightening solution and many other things. This movie teaches that we all have gifts to share with this world.  All we need is a little support, encouragement and the right tools.  The story is told by Queen Latifah and the animation is simple but fun and would be great for ages 4 and up.
  2. Dancing in the Light the story of Janet Collins–This 17 minute movie can be found on NETFLIX.  It is the story of Janet Collins an African American ballerina in the 1930s.  She was the first African American to dance at the Metropolitan Opera house but dealt with a lot of racism in her career (the Ballet Rouse asked her to paint her face white in order to perform).  This uplifting story is narrated by Chris Rock and is great for ages 4 and up.
  3. Follow the Drinking Gourd–My kids and I rented this 26 minute movie on Amazon.  Morgan Freeman narrates the story of the Drinking Gourd by Bernardine Connelly while the beautiful illustrations from Yvonne Buchanan are shown on the screen.  We really enjoyed this historical fiction tale and learned a lot about Peg Leg Joe, the Drinking Gourd and the Underground Railroad. This movie is listed for ages 6 and up but I would think it would be better for 7 and up.
  4. Ruby Bridges–This Disney move is not rated and unfortunately not reviewed on Common Sense Media.  It is on our list of movies to watch this month as we continue our study of the Civil Rights Movement.  From what I have read, people recommend it to children ages 7 and up.
  5. Remember the Titans–I LOVE sports films and this is one of my favorites.  This movie is the based on a true story of two high schools integrating after segregation has ended. The story follows the integration of the football team and is a powerful story of racism, acceptance, respect and teamwork.   This movie is rated PG and recommended for ages 10 and up.
  6. Hidden Figures–This was one case where I loved the movie as much as the book (that rarely happens).  This is the true story of the unsung heroes behind the mathematics of the space program.  The story follows the lives of three strong and brilliant African American women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson) and their struggle to find acceptance and respect at NASA while they work to put John Glenn into orbit.  This movie is rated PG and recommended for ages 10 and up.

 

Book Corner, Holiday, Holiday Books, Kindness, Seasonal

Chinese New Year

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Happy New Year: 新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè)

This year Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) begins on January 25th.  Chinese New Year is the beginning of the Chinese calendar and is also known as the Spring Festival.   2021 is the Year of the OX and the ox symbolizes hard work and honesty in China.

This 15 day festival can be a great time for your family to learn about the Chinese culture, the traditions associated with this festival and have a little bit of fun.  Here are some fun things you and your family can do to learn about and celebrate Chinese New Year.

  1.  CLICK Here to find out what your Chinese Zodiac symbol is (we are snakes, a dog and ox over here)
  2. CLICK HERE for ideas for a craft projects for Chinese New Year.  You can make some fun decorations together and plan a Chinese New Year Feast.  Red is the color of Chinese New Year and it is thought to bring luck.
  3. Make Chinese food together or order take-out from your favorite restaurant.  Dumplings are eaten every day during the festival.
  4. Find a local Chinese New Year celebration.  People from all over the world celebrate this festival and there are many events here in the USA.  Check out your local art museum or go to your closest China Town.  We went to a dragon dance a few years ago at our local art museum and it was beautiful.

Books for Chinese New Year

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From the publisher: “When her Chinese grandmother comes to visit, a young Chinese-American girl learns of and participates in the customs and beliefs celebrating an authentic Chinese New Year.”

 

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From the publisher: “In this picture book celebrating Chinese New Year, animals from the Chinese zodiac help a little girl deliver a gift to her grandmother.Ruby has a special card to give to her grandmother for Chinese New Year. But who will help her get to grandmother’s house to deliver it? Will it be clever Rat, strong Ox, or cautious Rabbit? Ruby meets each of the twelve zodiac animals on her journey. This picture book includes back matter with a focus on the animals of the Chinese zodiac.”

unknown-2From the publisher: “When a boy goes to the market to buy food and comes home with an old wok instead, his parents wonder what they’ll eat for dinner. But then the wok rolls out of the poor family’s house with a skippity-hoppity-ho! and returns from the rich man’s home with a feast in tow! With spirited text and lively illustrations, this story reminds readers about the importance of generosity.”

 

 

Holiday, Holiday Books, Kindness, Seasonal

Candlemas

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Candlemas, February 2nd, is known by many names: Groundhog Day, Imblog and St. Bridgids Day.  Candlemas is a beautiful and long forgotten winter holiday that marks the half way point until spring.  Throughout history people would gather and celebrate light, hope and renewal.

Candlemas-Day Verse

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

Today on February 2nd most people focus on a small furry mammal named Phil, in the little town of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania.  The world holds its breath as the poor little groundhog is removed from his cozy slumber to look for his shadow (if he doesn’t find it that means an early spring).  I admit I am one of those people who LOVE that silly tradition and I watch it live on the internet.  My kids and I also watch Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day movie every February 2nd, we LOVE that ridiculous movie.

I invite you and your family to take some time to pause on February 2nd and reflect upon your own hopes and dreams for the year.  Maybe you light some candles to mark the fact that we are half way to the spring equinox or try one of the other ideas below.

Happy Candlemas!

Here are some ideas to celebrate Candlemas:

  1. Make candles as a family (this kit is a favorite of ours)
  2. Have a candlelit dinner and talk about everyone’s hopes and dreams
  3. Call someone who may be lonely and provide a little light in their lives
  4. Plant a seed or bulb and watch it grow as the days get closer to spring
  5. Make Valentine’s Day cards to send out to the older folks in your life.  They will love a little handwritten note from you.

Here are some of our favorite books to read on February 2nd.

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A fun book about a groundhog who has trouble hibernating.  He wakes up for all of the fall/winter holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and sees what he has been missing all these years.  This is such a cute book and is great for ages 3 and up.

 

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This book is not only funny but filled with lots of facts about weather, the history of Groundhog Day and other groundhogs around the world.  My kids and I read this book every year and it still makes us laugh.   This book is great for kids 5 and up.

 

 

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This is an ancient Irish story that celebrates St. Brigid.  In this beautiful story you hear about how Brigid’s got her famous blue cloak and the first of the miracles that it performed.  St. Brigid is a patron saint of Ireland and a wonderful role model for kindness.  She set up convents all over Ireland that catered to the poor and hungry.  This book would be great for children ages 5 and up.

 

(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.)  

Kindness, Making a Difference, Seasonal, Service Projects for Families

Valentine’s Day

February is a great time to focus on KINDNESS.  When my children were small, my husband and I decided against presents for Valentine’s Day.  This has meant that the holiday has always been centered around LOVE and KINDNESS.

We spend the two weeks before Valentine’s Day focusing on kind deeds for one another and the people we care about.  Here are some of the things that we do to help keep the focus on kindness and love.

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1. Kindness Jar–We made our Kindness Jar about a year ago and it stays out in our dining room as a constant reminder to think of others and to be kind.  We plan to pull out a new kind deed from the jar each day for the Kids in Service 5 days of Kindness Challenge.  Click HERE for directions on how to make your own Kindness Jar and a FREE printable of kind deeds.

Make sure to join us on Facebook and Instagram on Monday February 8th for a week of Kindness and Prizes!

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2. Valentine’s Day Count Down--I started this tradition when the kids were little.  We have 14 envelopes to mark the days from February 1st-14th.  Each envelope contains a slip of paper with a fun activity or project for us to do on that day.  The envelopes include: Make your Valentine’s Today, Movie Night, Outdoor Adventure, Make a treat for the Birds, Good Deed Day, Call Someone You Love, Bake Cookies, Family Game Night etc.

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3. Valentine Mailboxes--When my son was four and daughter was one, we made family Valentine Mailboxes (you know like the ones you make at school).  Our first mailboxes are pictured above.  A few years later I found cute little metal mailboxes in the Target dollar bins.  These mailboxes come out of the attic on February 1st and we spend the next two weeks writing each other notes.  I love the Target Mailboxes because there is a flag to put up to let the person know that they have mail.  Once and a while, I will drop a sweet treat in the mailboxes, that is always a fun mail day.

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4. Heart Attack–I saw this idea a few years back on the Skip to my Lou site and had to give it a try.  It was so easy to do and made the three people in my house smile every morning when they saw the new heart on their door.  I always make enough hearts to add a new one every day for 14 days.  You could condense it to 5 or 7 days to make life easier.

5.  Extra Valentine’s Day Card Service Project–The Valentine’s Day Card packs that you can buy in most stores come with WAY more than your child needs to send every friend in their class (and their teacher) a card.  Instead of recycling those cards, why not have your child sign their name and send them to people who could use some cheer?  Cards would be welcome at your local nursing home, homeless shelter, veterans home or halfway house.  Consider spreading a little love and kindness with those extra cards this year!

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6. Make Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards–My kids and I make our own homemade Valentine’s each year.  I have them draw out four designs on one sheet of card stock and then color photocopy the design so that we have enough to send out.  I love our original designs and I copy enough so that we can send them to all of our favorite people near and far.  We also bring a few homemade cards to cheer up the residents of our local nursing home.  The residents always love the homemade cards and gush over the kind gesture.  It is such a sweet site to witness.

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7. Project Dollar Store–Valentine’s Day is a great time to go on a Project Dollar Store Mission.  You can read all about that SECRET MISSION HERE.

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8. Winter Sun Catchers–This activity is so fun and easy to do and can be a nice Valentine’s Day treat for the birds and animals in your yard. We used paper for our hearts and did need to go outdoors to collect the paper when the ice melted.  This year we are going to try for natural hearts and adding more birdseed.  They are so pretty.  You can learn how to make there on the Twig and Toadstool site.

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Click HERE for a list of Books for Valentine’s Day