Monthly Archives

July 2019

  • First Day of School Book Favorites (+ activities too)

    As the summer comes to an end, so comes change for your child as the new school year begins. We all know that the starting the first day of school can be an anticipating and emotional time, as expected.

    One of the best ways my husband and I have found to ease our son’s impending emotions is through literature. By introducing characters with feelings and situations resembling his everydayness, he gains better insight and expands his perspective. And by forming character connections through literature with your child, you will be able to affirm their feelings and create open dialogue on topics of concern or excitement.

    Below we have listed some of our favorite first day of school books you can read to prepare your child for the new year. With comprehensive subjects such as first-day jitters, meeting new friends, learning the school rules – we’ve listed a book for them all. You will also find some post-reading activities to stimulate follow-up conversations and engage your child even more with some of the characters and topics.

    See Our List of Favorite First Day of School Books and Activities Below!

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

    1. Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? 

    Through sweet, simple prose and vivid illustrations, this book encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis.

    Activity:

    How Full Is Your Bucket childrens activity picture Have you child create a bucket of their own by thinking and writing down the things that make them happy and placing them in their bucket.

    Clickable link to download How Full is Your Bucket book activity

    2. First Day Jitters

    Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. First Day Jitters is sure to be treasured by anyone who has ever anticipated a first day of school.

    Activity: 

    Picture of boy holding First Day Jitters book activityHave your child make a “Jitter Juice”. Cut out all the emojis that your child feels about starting school and put them in the jitter juice. You can also make a “Jitter Juice” of your own with Hawaiian Punch and Sprite!

    Clickable image to First Day Jitters book activity

    3. Llama Llama Misses Mama

    It’s Llama Llama’s first day of school, and he’s not too happy about it. Still, he trudges along and makes his bed, brushes his teeth, and eats his breakfast.

    But once he arrives at his classroom — with so many new faces, new names, and new games — little Llama doesn’t know what to do. And when Mama Llama leaves, the little guy feels even more shy and alone. What will this lonely llama do? Will Mama ever return?

    Activity:

    Boy holding up Llama Llama paper plate craft

    With two paper plates, make an outline of Llama Llama’s head, ears and scruffy hair. Cut out the eyes, color and glue together to create a Llama Llama mask!

    4. Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books

    It’s the first day of first grade! Gilbert is looking forward to learning how to read and making new friends, but . . .

    Will the teacher be nice? Will first grade be too hard? Will he like his classmates? Will they like him? Gilbert is excited and nervous at the same time and maybe your littles will relate.

    Activity:

    What's in My Backpack book activity exampleDownload the below activity to help your little one prepare their backpack. They’ll need more than just books and pencils!

    Clickable image to Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books book activity

    5. David Goes to School

    In this sequel, young David heads off to school for the first time and David’s teacher certainly has her hands full! From running, yelling, and pushing with abandon to chewing gum in class, David’s high-energy antics fill each day with trouble. David’s unruly romp through school is sure to bring a smile to the face of even the best-behaved reader. Read along as David learns the school rules.

    Activity:

    Picture of David Goes to School book activitySchool rules are very important. See if your child knows the difference between good school behavior and what is not allowed with this “Yes, David – No, David” activity.

    Clickable link to David Goes to School book activity download

    More First Day of School Favorites!

    Interested in more back-to-school posts? Check out this post to download a free first day of school printable!

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  • Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy

    As a child, my parents recited the old adage “treat others the way they want to be treated” often. This message has resonated throughout my life in situations where I feel triggered or compelled to jump to conclusions. It’s important that my children understand the values of empathy and why it should be employed in our social interactions and relationships.

    In fact, years from now when I look back on the job I’ve done as a parent, I will measure my success in the amount of kindness radiating from my kids.

    FREE PRINTABLES BELOW!

    Let’s define empathy as the attempt to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own.

    Empathy allows children to assess how others are feeling and respond appropriately. In the age of bullying, it’s vital to the health of our youngest generation to understand and practice empathy and tactful sensitivity. By teaching children to look outward and identify with the experience of others, we can cultivate kindness and foster compassion.

    Below is a printable learning activity, a printable call to action and a list of picture books to help children explore the value of empathy and grow kindness. We hope you make full use of our simple methods for teaching kids kindness and empathy, and in doing so, make the world a better place.

    Wrinkled Heart Learning Activity

    Start with an unwrinkled heart. Have your child cut it out. Explain negative speak and give examples. With each negative phrase, fold the heart until it is completely wrinkled. Discuss how hurtful words can cause another person harm and are not easily forgotten. Lastly, explain that once something is communicated, it can not be retracted, in the same way the heart cannot be unwrinkled.

    A few more talking points:

      • Explain why it is important to think before you speak
      • Talk to your children about the struggles that others go through
      • Have a conversation about how the different life experiences of others can explain their actions
      • Teach them that words can hurt and have consequences
      • Discuss how speaking with care and sensitivity could save someone pain and suffering

    Random Acts of Kindness Jar

    Help children learn to derive pleasure from the happiness of others with this simple and impactful activity. Use the label to create a random acts of kindness jar. Cut the acts of kindness into small strips and fold them up. Then place them in the jar. Every morning (or week, month, whatever works for your family) have your child pull one of the strips from the jar and complete the act of kindness. Watch as they grow in their desire to give and pay it forward.

    Books that Teach & Inspire Empathy

    There is no better method for delivering a message to a child than via picture book. Research indicates that reading improves a child’s emotional intelligence and increases empathy. Be sure to check out the following reads:

    How Full is Your Bucket?

    Each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day. Felix learns how every interaction in a day either fills or empties his bucket. He then realizes that everything he says or does to other people fills or empties their buckets as well. Follow along with Felix as he learns how easy it can be to fill the buckets of his classmates, teachers and family members. Before the day is over, you’ll see how Felix discovers that filling someone else’s bucket also fills his own.

    The Last Stop on Market Street

    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. Help children walk a mile in another’s shoes and gain a different perspective with this award winning read.

    The Invisible Boy

    Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party until a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy. Looking for more on early childhood development? Be sure to read our small steps for Raising Confident Kids.



     

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  • 20 Patriotic Food Ideas for the Fourth of July

    Hosting for the Fourth of July? Check out some of our favorite red, white and blue themed recipes that are guaranteed crowd pleasers – and let us know your favorites in the comments below!

    1. Red White and Blue Parfaits

    “These Red, White, and Blue Parfaits make the perfect patriotic treat.  Simply layer fresh strawberries, fat free yogurt and fresh blueberries with a little granola in the center for an easy  and healthy dessert without the guilt.” Go to Post

    2. Fun and Fabulous Fireworks Cupcakes

    “…they’re great for events, parties, and celebrations of all types, and these fireworks cupcakes for 4th of July are perfect to eat as you watch the rockets burst in the sky with sparkly color!” Go to Post

    3. Fourth of July Popcorn

    “4th of July Popcorn recipe is a fun and festive sweet & savory snack to enjoy on any patriotic holiday. Celebrate Fourth of July. Kids enjoy making this easy chocolate covered popcorn and everyone will relish eating this patriotic snack.” Go to Post

    Recipe by Mom Foodie

    4. Fourth of July Fudge

    “A patriotic red white and blue fudge recipe perfect for Flag Day or the 4th of July. This easy marshmallow creme fudge recipe is made using evaporated milk, white chocolate chips, sugar, butter, and food coloring.” Go to Post

    5. Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

    “With summer approaching, I thought that it would be the perfect time to make these red, white, and blue ice cream cone cupcakes.

    These patriotic cupcakes would be great for 4th of July parties or Memorial Day barbecues.  Or even for Flag Day!” Go to Post

    6. Patriotic Thumbprint Cookies

    “It’s no secret that we love making cookies. Double butterscotch cookies that are easy to freeze are usually my go to, but these patriotic cookies also make for a great summer treat.” Go to Post

    Recipe by Money Wise Moms

    7. Patriotic Fruit Pizza

    “This is a great dessert to make with kids too, let them help decorate!” Go to Post

    Recipe by Splendry.com

    8. Flag Rice Krispie Treats

        

    Recipe by Making of a Mom

    9. Marshmallow Pin Wheels

    “They are easy to make, only take a few ingredients, and kids LOVE them! I just adore how fun they look — and aren’t sweet treats on a stick the best?” Go to Post

    10. Fourth of July Cheesecake Bites

    “Now these red, white, and blue Strawberry Cheesecake Bites may not be quite  as easy as simply stepping out on the deck to watch the fireworks. But they’re pretty darn close.” Go to Post

    11. Red White & Blue Chocolate Dipped Wafers

    “Got a celebration pool party to go to?  Or having a few friends over to celebrate the big day?  Well, if you’re looking for a fun and easy little 4th of July treat to make for your festivities, I’ve got just the thing for you – Red White & Blue Chocolate-Dipped Sugar Wafers.” Go to Post

    12. Vegan Star Spangled Skewers

    “Let’s start with these super simple 5-minute Star-Spangled Skewers! Aren’t they so cute? You’ll love the flavors of the sweet watermelon (red), salty vegan feta cheese (white), and tart blueberries (blue). Like my mom would say, “It’s the yin and the yang, the tart and the sweet!” It’s the perfect festive finger food to make for your 4th of July BBQ, cookout, or party!” Go to Post

    13. 4th of July Icebox Cake

    “This icebox cake is cool and refreshing with its layers of softened graham crackers, luscious cream filling, and fresh berries. It’s easy to make, there is no baking, and it can be made in advance. It’s a perfect summer treat and a great way to celebrate the 4th of July!” Go to Post

    14. 4th of July Cake Pops

    “These cake pops are easy to make and would look great on any party table.” Go to Post

    Recipe by Mommy Made That

    15. Frozen Yogurt Bark

    “Frozen yogurt bark topped with mixed berries and crushed pistachios – super easy, delicious and a refreshing no-cook recipe that is perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert!” Go to Post

    16. Fourth of July Pretzel Bites

    “Are you looking for a fun and easy recipe to serve on Independence Day? Here’s a festive red, white, and blue snack recipe that will be perfect for your Fourth of July picnic, party, or potluck.” Go to Post

    Recipe by Moms Who Save

    17. Fourth of July Chocolate Covered Oreos

    “With the the new fireworks oreos I thought it would be fun to make festive chocolate covered Oreo cookies for the Summer. The 4th of July oreos have red, white and blue and it’s so patriotic and perfect for a celebration. If you are hosting a cookout, party or just hanging out with family, try making Red white and blue chocolate covered oreos. The milk chocolate coating is so yummy!” Go to Post

    18. Red, White & Blue Jello Shots

    “This batch makes a bunch, depending on the size of jello shot containers you use so be sure to share these with friends! You could also use this recipe with other jello flavors throughout the year to create new color combos.” Go to Post

    19. Fourth of July Doughnuts

    “Be prepared to be shocked and awed by some doughnut deliciousness AND a quick video tutorial on icing these babies.” Go to Post

    20. Patriotic Pretzel Rods

    “Although these Red, White, and Blue Patriotic Pretzel Rods really are the ultimate Independence Day snack, they are actually perfect for any time that you want to express your patriotism. Whip up a batch for Presidents’ Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Election Day, or to commemorate the birthday of your favorite President. These festive snacks make every Patriotic event extra special!” Go to Post

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