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 and best of all it’s FREE. When you sign up you will get a downloadable Welcome Packet, access to our Private KIS Virtual Club Page, a short Welcome Video and access to Private KIS Club Facebook Group (this is optional and not necessary). We have some great lessons and activities planned for this year and we hope that you will join us!
KiS Junior is for kids ages 10 and under (although my almost 11 year old will be participating). Our theme for the year will be Bravery and Persistence and there will be monthly videos from October-May. Each video meeting will be under 15 minutes and are meant to be low stress for parents. There will be a story, a quick lesson and two service project ideas. 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.
Each month we will have a raffle for those who participate during that month (you are always welcome to go back and watch the older videos at any time). Share a photo of your child participating before the end of the month and they will be entered for the raffle. There is a lot more information in our Welcome Packet, click the image above to SIGN up!
KIS Teen/Pre-Teen videos will be posted every other month (October, December, February, April). The meeting videos will be under 15 minutes and are meant to be watched when it is convenient for your child. Each video will contain a video clip or interview and two project ideas. These projects can be done as a family, with friends or on their own.
Kids who participate will be entered to win a raffle for that meeting. Share a photo of your child participating before the deadline (these will be announced) and they will be entered for the raffle. There is a lot more information in our Welcome Packet, click the image above to SIGN up.
Check out the two KIS Junior meetings we created last spring!
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.
For the past three 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?
Yoga can be a fun and healthy activity for the entire family to practice mindfulness. The key to yoga with children is presenting the practice in a light and visual way. Yoga is a great way to help children calm their bodies, quiet their minds and also gain strength and flexibility.
When we started yoga with our own children, we made it more exciting by allowing them to pick out their own mats (mats are not necessary, you can always use a towel). We keep our individual mats in a basket in the family room and it always makes me smile when they go and get their mat to stretch out on their own. We have found that if yoga practice is fun and more like play, my kids don’t mind doing it at all.
You do not need to be a yogi yourself or spend any money at all to start an at home yoga practice. I will be sharing some of our favorite FREE yoga videos, books and games in this post. I urge you to try out the free videos. If you come at yoga with an open mind and playful spirit, your kids will be eager to join in on the fun. Yoga is a magical way to calm the body and mind.
Cosmic Kids is a website and YouTube channel filled with FREE yoga for kids!! Jaime, your yoga guide, combines yoga with fun animation to engage kids of all ages. The website is so easy to navigate and you can find practices by length, energy level or category. One of her latest videos is Pokemon yoga, where she is trying to capture the different Pokemon! She also has Star Wars, Frozen, Minecraft, dump trucks, animals, Harry Potter, pirates and so many more!! Cosmic Kids also has meditation videos. This website is a wonderful resource for all ages (and I love her accent).
Yoga with Adriene is a website and YouTube channel with FREE yoga for adults. Adriene has been my online yoga teacher for the past 3 years and I absolutely LOVE her. Adriene has a 30 minute video just for kids (CLICK VIDEO above). This video is filmed in the park and shows that yoga can be done ANYWHERE! I would recommend this video to ages 9+ Adriene also has a 10 minute video for the CLASSROOM that you could do at home.
Storyland Yoga is on Amazon PRIME and this was our go to yoga video when my kids were little. They love the story approach and all of the kids featured in the yoga video. There are two stories in this 52 minute practice (we use to do one at a time) and it combines video footage of the kids with animation. It is a lot of fun and I would recommend it for children ages 3-8.
This is a favorite book in our house. The story is about a class of children sharing what their parents do for a living. Each child shares a different profession and the book takes you through 9 different yoga poses that relate to those professions. It is a fun and active book to share with children ages 3-8.
This is another fun and active book to share with children. It works through the entire alphabet and there is a yoga pose for each letter. This is a great way for children to learn 26 different poses through rhymes and colorful illustrations. This is a great book for ages 3 and up.
Yoga is a very relaxing way to help children get ready for bed. This story helps your children to slow down and prepare for sleep. The story takes you through 11 gentle poses that focus on stretching, breathing and relaxing. The illustrations are beautiful and this book would make the perfect bedtime story for children ages 3 and up. The author also has a Good Morning Yoga story (see it below)!
This is a beautiful picture book helps children learn the yoga poses of the Sun Salutation flow. This is a wonderful book to teach children this energizing series of poses that can help them start their day. This author also has the book Hello, Moon! A Yoga Moon Salutation for Bedtime (see it below).
This is one of five books in the I Am..series by Susan Verde. This book encourages young children to explore the world of yoga through fun and simple poses. We have all 5 books and they are well loved in our house. Peter H. Reynolds does the illustrations for this wonderful book series and he is one of our FAVORITE illustrators.
This fun family game requires no YOGA or PIRATE experience. Plays work to balance parrots on their body in order to earn doubloons! Yogarr! is perfect for families, parties and can be played with children ages 4 and up.
The Yoga Garden game is for children ages 4 and up. In this cooperative game, players are working together to plant a flower by nightfall. Along the way, children will learn different yoga poses and get a chance to create their own.
Yogi Dice is a game that not only teachers children yoga poses but also encourages them to use their imaginations to dream up new poses. This game is perfect for children ages 5 and up.
This game is a great way to introduce children to yoga. This game contains 54 yoga poses and each pose has both a picture and written instructions for how to form the pose. The game comes in a portable container, so you can keep it in your bag and play it on the go. It is recommended for ages five and up but I have modified the game to play with 3 year olds.
This is not a game but can easily be turned into one. This beautiful and sturdy deck of cards will illustrate and teach 50 different yoga poses. We place all the cards in the middle and when it’s your turn you draw a card. If you can complete that pose, you get to keep the card. If you are unable to complete the pose, you have to put the card back in the deck. The person with the most cards after 15 minutes, wins! We have also used this deck for yoga scavenger hunts, a yoga pose of the day and I’ve kept them in my bag for downtime when we are on the go. This deck is great for ages 3 and up.
In this game, each player starts with a mission card with 7 poses that they must complete. The first person to complete their mission, WINS! There are 48 poses taught in this game and this is another super portable game to take with you. This game is a lot of fun to play in the grass at the park or on the beach! This game is for ages 6 and up.
Winter is now one of my favorite seasons. I use to dread the cold and long winter months but now that I have found the concept of hygge, I come to crave this time each year. I love this chance to slow down, get cozy and spend time with family and friends.
If you are looking for some cozy service projects this winter, we have a few suggestions for you and your family. These are projects that you can do from the comfort of your home.
1. Project Linus-–Click HERE to learn all about this cozy and important service project. No sewing skills required!!
2. Thank You Notes–Have you thanked your loved ones for the thoughtful gifts they gave you over the holidays? 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? 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 drawing and/or writing).
3. 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 Mission of Appreciation.
4. Project Dollar Store–This is such a fun project and can be easily prepared while sitting in front of a cozy fire. Click HERE to learn more about this SECRET MISSION OF LOVE!
5. Project Feeder Watch–This is a project of love for the birds in your backyard (and maybe the squirrels too). Place a feeder in your yard in a place that you can easily see from a window in your home. Keep the feeder up from early November-the beginning of April and enjoy the birds that come to your yard each day. Watching birds from the window is a very relaxing activity and a great learning experience for the whole family. Grab a few bird books from you library to learn the names of the birds in your yard. If you sign up for Project Feeder Watch through Cornell, you will be sent a poster of the birds in your area. Project Feeder Watch asks its members to count the birds for a period of time over two days a week (10 min is all you need) and submit the data online to their website. This data is used for their scientific study about the birds in different areas and the migration patterns. We LOVE this project and love to take care of the birds in our yard all winter long.
6. Cards for Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers are working harder than ever during this COVID-19 pandemic. Why not show them some appreciation by making cards for your local hospital.
7. Art for Nursing Homes
Nursing Home residents are unable to accept visitors at this time. Have your children paint some bright and cheery artwork to cheer them up during these dark times.
This winter on the Kids and Service site, we will be exploring the concept of hygge. What is hyggeyou ask and how do you pronounce this funny word? Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) is a Danish word and concept. It is hard to explain but it may be the reason that the people of Denmark are among the happiest in the world. To my family, hygge is a feeling of coziness which invites you to be mindful and use your five senses. It is about gathering, slowing down and spending quality time together.
Why am I bringing the concept of hygge to Kids in Service? Well you can thank my friend Claire for that. She knows how passionate I am about this topic and suggested I share it with all of you. One of the most important lessons I have learned from Claire and her teachings, is the concept of putting on your own oxygen mask first. The truth is that you can not serve others in your life if you are feeling run down or depleted. I am hoping that hygge will be a way for you and your family to give yourselves a little self-care so that you will be ready to go out into the world and help others.
There will be a many posts over the next few weeks exploring the concept of hygge. We will explore how you can create a hygge feeling in your home through the five senses, share some great books to read together as a family, talk about dedicating time to hygge as a family each week, share some cozy service projects that you can do together at home and share ways that you can incorporate hygge into your lives all year long.
It will cost you NO money to put the concept of hygge into action in your home. Hygge is all about togetherness, being mindful, creating a cozy environment, having a positive perspective and being grateful for what you already have. Denmark has some of the longest, coldest and darkest winters, yet its people are so happy. I believe this is because of hygge. Hygge is a powerful concept and I invite you to explore it more with your family this winter.