For the past 10 years, my children have traded their Halloween Candy for a $10-$12 toy of their choice. I know what you are thinking, “You take ALL of their candy, you are so cruel!” To be clear I don’t TAKE anything, it is a TRADE that they agree to make. I also allow them to eat some candy on Halloween and save 5 pieces for consumption the week after Halloween. This has worked well for us and their dentist approves!
The candy the kids trade in is sent to work with my husband. His employees LOVE the variety and it is usually all gone in 1-2 days!
Last year, while packing Thanksgiving food baskets at our local food bank, I was surprised to see that Halloween candy was one of the items included. “We like to put in a little fun for the kids,” the organizer told me. I knew right then that next years Halloween candy would go to the food bank for the Thanksgiving baskets.
There are many great places to donate Halloween Candy, a quick internet search will bring up many options in your area. I am asking you to consider your local food bank, call them and see if they would like a donation for their Thanksgiving baskets. Happy Halloween!!
May Day, celebrated on May 1st, is an ancient holiday that welcomes the change of seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere it marks the return of spring (it takes awhile for spring to get to the Northern United States) and often involves dances around a maypole, the crowning of a May Queen and the creating of May Baskets. This holiday is still celebrated around the world but it is mostly forgotten in the US. It is my hope that this will change.
May Baskets are my favorite part of May Day. For the past few years, the children and I have left May Day Baskets anonymously on the doorsteps of friends and family. These simple baskets are made out of construction paper and contain spring treasures that we collect (flowers, rocks, pinecones, shells etc.), homemade cards that say, “Happy May Day” and treats that we bake. The kids love ringing the doorbell and running away before being seen.
May Day is a fun and simple holiday that is all about KINDNESS and celebrating the beauty of spring. Check out this post from Skip to My Lou for 10 May Day Basket ideas. If you want to learn more about the history of May Day Baskets, check out this NPR post.
Do you celebrate May Day? We’d love to see photos of your celebration.
“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 Month, Kids 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.
The 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
I 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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- CLICK Here to find out what your Chinese Zodiac symbol is (we are snakes, a dog and ox over here)
- 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.
- Make Chinese food together or order take-out from your favorite restaurant. Dumplings are eaten every day during the festival.
- 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
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.”
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.”
From 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.”
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.
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.
Here are some ideas to celebrate Candlemas:
- Make candles as a family (this kit is a favorite of ours)
- Have a candlelit dinner and talk about everyone’s hopes and dreams
- Call someone who may be lonely and provide a little light in their lives
- Plant a seed or bulb and watch it grow as the days get closer to spring
- 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Click HERE for a list of Books for Valentine’s Day
Kids in Service will be leading a 7 days of Kindness challenge on social media (Instagram and Facebook) from February 8th-February 14th. We are asking everyone in our community to try to do a kind deed every day for one week. Share the kind deed that you or someone you love did on either our Facebook page or Instagram Page each day. Each kind deed that you share will be an entry into our prize drawing. If you post a kind deed EVERY DAY for 7 days, you will get an extra 5 entries into the drawing.
If you are not on social media, you can still enter the contest by emailing us and telling us about your kind deed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email all 5 days, you will receive an extra 5 entries.
We have 3 prizes to choose from (lunch box notes and two books) and we will have 3 winners!! The first person drawn will get to choose their prize of the three prizes available, the second person drawn will then get to choose their prize out of the two prizes left and the 3rd person drawn will be given the remaining prize.
We hope you will join us for this week of Kindness! See you over on social media.
Here are the prizes:
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. If you click on one of the pictures of the books and choose to purchase a book through this site, 20% of all proceeds will be donated to the Kids in Service charity of the season. This season the charity is Love Does. You can learn more about Love Does HERE.
I live in the northern hemisphere and slowly but surely the days are getting longer and on February 2nd, we will be half way to spring. Hygge is often thought of as a winter concept but the truth is the Danish people take the coziness and togetherness of hygge and make it last all year long. Here are some fun family ideas to plan for when the weather gets warmer.
Hygge Ideas for the Warmer Weather
- Pizza on the beach at sunset
- Outdoor concert
- Ice cream cones on a hot day
- Reading in a Hammock
- Catching Fireflies in a Jar
- Outdoor BBQ with Friends
- Cloud watching
All Year Long Hygge Activities
- Family game night
- Family read aloud time
- Potluck Dinner
- Family Hike
This is the last hygge post for this season. We hope you have enjoyed this month of focusing on family self-care and hygge. We at Kids in Service believe that you must take care of yourself if you plan to serve others.
If you missed our other posts you can click on the images below to check them out.
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. The Jar is filled with slips of paper that contain ideas for kind deeds.
When we go to the jar for ideas for kind deeds we pull out three slips of paper. We then decide which deed is the best one for us to do right now. Some of the kind deeds are more time consuming or may need a trip to the store and if we have a lot going on we may have to save them for another day.
You can easily make your own Kindness Jar with materials you have in the house.
- First find an empty, clean jar and have the kids decorate it with paint (we used paint pens), stickers, sharpies….anything!
- Next CLICK HERE for a FREE PRINTABLE with slips with many kind deed ideas and blank slips for you to come up with your own ideas. Print these out and go through each one and decide as a family if you will add them to your jar or not. Then work together to brainstorm some other kind deeds that you could do and place those in the jar.
- Cut these slips of paper and put them in your jar.
- When you are ready to do a kind deed, pick a few slips of paper and decided as a family which deed you will do that day (some of the deeds take more prep time than others).
- If you would like, you can keep track of your kind deeds by replacing the slips of paper with a cotton ball or marble and watch the jar fill up or keep a KINDNESS CHAIN like we did.