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  • 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

    I seriously feel bad for Thanksgiving.

    I mean, every year we’re driven to leap into Christmas (or whatever your celebration!) and bypass Turkey day. It’s almost as if we will eventually dismiss the Holiday all together.

    In recent years, I’ve tried to give Thanksgiving its due recognition, but I’m ashamed to admit I’m guilty of pulling out the Christmas gear in the second week of November.

    Alfie the Elf on the Shelf has already graced us with his presence. The tree is up, Santa’s face is plastered everywhere, the stockings are hung tenderly with care…you get it.

    Picture of 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

    Because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the magic of the holiday season, we’ve listed 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day that’ll allow you to fully acknowledge Turkey day, and perhaps begin a new tradition with the ones you love.

    1. Volunteer

    What could be more appropriate on a day designated for giving than to volunteer and give back to the community.

    I like this idea because you can put in a few hours of the day volunteering for an organization you’re compelled to get involved with and still have time to feast, drink and spend time with family as you desire. If you’re looking for local charities and non-profits this is a great resource. A couple of tips:

    • Choose a cause you’re passionate about
    • Find an opportunity that matches your skills, interest and schedule
    • Get the kids involved

    thanksgiving

    Volunteering can also be as simple as visiting a nearby senior center or donating goods to a local food bank.

    Usually in need of assistance, hospitals offer a variety of volunteer opportunities suitable for all ages. I hope to incorporate this idea into our future Thanksgiving plans when my boys get older. It always feels good to pay your good fortune forward.

    2. Turkey Trot

    Want to go for seconds and thirds guilt free this Thanksgiving? The average American will consume 3,000 calories on Turkey day (and honestly you should because, duh, it’s Thanksgiving!).

    An awesome way to kick off the day, get the endorphins going, and burn some pre-meal calories is to run a turkey trot! My husband and I did this a few years ago and I have to say, indulging was that much sweeter after a solid 10k. You can find fun races in your area using this convenient tool.

    Turkey trots range in size from a just a few runners to thousands. The organizations hosting the event usually use the entrance fee to fund local charities and in some races the 1st place prize is a frozen turkey! Dust off those running shoes and get trotting!

    3. Celebrate Native American Culture

    If you’ve never been, I highly recommend a day trip to the National Museum of the American Indian! I find it immensely important to educate myself and my family on Indigenous People and their many contributions to  modern day society. You can find Native influence in our arts, agriculture, and even modern medicine.

    Make it a quest to discover local tribes or plan a trip to a reservation. Try a Native recipe. Watch a movie starring Native actors. Here is a great list of children’s books to help explain a history that is often depicted inaccurately in school teachings and otherwise.

    The Best Thanksgiving Traditions

    4. Game Time

    Some of my favorite memories from childhood Thanksgivings is playing football with my cousins and family after our feast. It became such a tradition that a trophy was made for the winning team each year. So fun!

    Whatever game you play, because it certainly doesn’t matter, make it light and fun and try and get everyone involved! Play a board game, create a scavenger hunt, or enjoy a round of cards. Pro tip: Put the electronics down and get back to the basics!

    Our Table Talk Printable is an awesome way to dig deep with the people you spend the holiday with. This conversation generator will have everyone at the table involved! Simply print out the questions, cut, and throw them in a container.

    Ideas for thanksgiving day

    Pass the container around to each guest until all of the questions are answered, OR have everyone at the table answer the question pulled. You’d be surprised at the level of intimate conversation these questions inspire!

    Link to download our Table Talk Printable HERE!

    5. Get Away

    And I don’t mean to your Great Aunt Linda’s house to have an uncomfortable political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner that ends in hurt feelings and family in-fighting!

    It is 100% okay to ditch the gatherings and do your own thing. Maybe you need a getaway. You’ve likely been rewarded extended time off for the holiday, so why not use that time to explore?

    Head to NYC for the annual parade or pick a city you’ve never visited. Not into the crowds? Numerous secluded resorts countrywide offer Thanksgiving deals to travelers who, like you, need an alternative.

    Plenty of awesome destinations and fresh ideas offered up right here. I’d also advise bringing a friend or two to make it a Friendsgiving trip!

    We hope you’ve been inspired by one of our awesome ideas for Thanksgiving Day and decide to include it in your future Turkey day festivities. 

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    If you enjoyed our 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day don’t forget to create The Grateful Tree!

    The Best Thanksgiving Traditions

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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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  • The Colors of Nutrition

     

    Lately I’ve been catching myself using the “You need to eat healthy foods first,” phrase often. My son has a fervent sweet tooth, and like most kids, prefers sugary snacks to the vitamin rich foods he needs for solid growth and development.

    But to a child, what is this “healthy” term, and why must it be the barrier to the tastier things in life? After asking myself this question, I decided it was important that I break it down for him.

    A colorful diet is a healthy diet, and fruits and vegetables are the gateway. In this Colors of Nutrition printable learning activity, kids will first color the produce page. Next, they will cut and glue each fruit or veggie on the corresponding “color” page.

    For every color page there is a quick passage about nutrition. It’s important for kids to grasp what healthy means, and understand how colorful foods impact the body in different ways.

    Get started with our Colors of Nutrition printable download below!

    Directions

    Have your child or student fill in the fruits and vegetables on the produce page. This can be done simply with crayons, pencils or markers. Another option is to use construction or tissue paper for more color and scissor practice.

    Then, have them cut the pictures out and glue them to the corresponding color page. While gluing each fruit and vegetable, read the nutrition excerpt on the page. Be sure to emphasize the importance of a colorful diet!

    Excerpts:

    • Red colored fruits and vegetables keep our hearts strong and healthy. They also contain antioxidants, which lower the risk of diseases such as cancer.
    • Orange colored fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A, which keeps our eyes healthy and Vitamin C, which strengthens our immune system and keeps us from getting sick.

    • Green colored fruits and vegetables support our liver and contain disease fighting antioxidants. Cruciferous green colored foods such as broccoli or brussels sprouts are a good source of Vitamins C, K, E and fiber.
    • Purple and blue colored fruits and vegetables keep our brains healthy and support memory function so we can remember things. They also contain those disease fighting antioxidants.

    • Yellow: Much like orange, yellow colored fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A, which keeps our eyes healthy and Vitamin C, which supports our immune system. Yellow foods also help our bodies heal cuts and scrapes.

    • White colored fruits and vegetables protect us from certain diseases and contain nutrients that help us digest food. Cruciferous white colored foods such as cauliflower are a good source of Vitamins C, K, E and fiber.

    nutrition printable

    In addition to this learning activity, have your child assist in shopping for produce and meal prep. This way it’s possible to have organic conversations about nutrition and the value of a healthy diet. Feel free to supplement this activity with more on the affects of colorful foods on the body here.

    The finished product! 

    We hope this introduction to the colors of nutrition will inspire your child or student to consume more fruits and veggies! For more excellent learning activities, check out more printable content HERE!

     


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

    We all know that the first day of school can be an emotional time for parents and kids alike. This year brings its own challenges, with virtual learning, social distancing requirements, and block scheduling planned for students across the country.

    This is new territory for everyone, and children are not immune to the uneasiness surrounding reopening schools. However, by staying positive and proactive, it’s possible to carve out an optimistic outlook for the upcoming school year.

    One of the best ways to ease a child’s anxiety is through literature. By introducing characters with feelings and situations resembling their own, they are able to ascertain insight and expand their 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 new school rules; we’ve listed a book for it 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!

    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

    Our List of Back to School book 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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  • The ABC Guide to Allyship – Printable for Kids!

    As a parent with progressive values, raising kids with big hearts, open minds, and critical thinking skills is extremely important to me. I didn’t learn the true meaning of allyship (and I will always be learning) until I finished college, and for my kids, this simply will not do.

    As they go through life in its many phases, I want them to understand what it means to be an ally, so they can best support their friends and others who are not treated fairly in society, simply based on who they are.

    I believe most parents/teachers/caregivers grapple with when to start having difficult conversations about societal inequity with their kids.

    Yet research indicates that starting from a very young age, children are taught who has power and who is valued in society, through media, interactions with family members and friends, etc. Knowing this, it is never too early.

    Teaching kids about allyship

     

    Want to learn more?

    Let’s first define an ally as a partner who works in solidarity alongside members of marginalized communities to correct the systems that obstruct them from advancing in society. Allies work for everyone to be treated fairly regardless of race, ability, sexuality, socioeconomic status, etc.

    Anyone can be an ally if they put in the work. Some of us are born with benefits specific to the groups we belong to. For example: A white woman can be an ally to indigenous groups, a straight person can be an ally to LGBTQIA members, a man can be an ally to women.

    Most importantly, being an ally means working hard to move everyone forward. 

    Why is this work important? Let’s dive deeper. Download our Printable!

    I created this printable guide to help kids do just that. Dive deep! The goal is for them to feel adequate in their understanding of the terms and concepts that accompany allyship work, and to learn to celebrate diversity, which provides them a more worldly perspective.

    In doing so, my hope is that overtime, they will acquire the skillset necessary to recognize injustice when they encounter it, and the confidence to challenge intolerance when it presents itself.

    Help Kids understand the importance of social allyship with this inclusive parent/teacher/caregiver resource on how to become an ally in solidarity with marginalized communities. Together we can make the world a brighter place.

     

     

     

    teaching antiracism teaching antiracism teaching antiracism

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  • 20 of The Best Children’s Books about Race and Racism

    The topics of race and racism can be difficult to broach with children, and deciding when and how can be complex. It is a firm belief of mine, as a mother to white children, that my work to cultivate positive change needs to start at home. So I’ve decided to talk to my kids and read them stories about race, and find books that feature characters who look different from them.

    Best Childrens Books on Race

    This post contains affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. All proceeds accrued from the links in this article will be donated to Color of Change, the Nation’s largest online racial justice organization. You can read more about their mission here

    My hope is that, in having these conversations early, future discussions about discrimination and white privilege won’t feel uncomfortable. I want them to be able to identify covert and overt racism, and call for justice when they see it.

    I have found books to be one of the best ways to convey messages to children, with brains that are wired for stories and narrative. And because their age plays a large factor in what they should consume and retain, I’ve broken it down into groups.

    If it’s time to update your classroom or at home library, here is our list of 2o of the Best Children’s Books about race and racism, broken down into 3 age groups

    Ages 0-2

    Studies show that babies recognize differences in skin color and hair textures. Even before it is possible to have conversations with your children, teach through through stories and actions. In addition, do your best to expose your child to a diverse environment and media that represents people of color. It’s important for kids to see their parents interact with people of other racial and ethnic groups.

    Babies Around the World

    Anti-racist Baby

    An ABC of Equality

    children's books about race and racism

    Dream Big Little One

    All Kinds of People

    children's books about race and racismAges 3-6

    When children become more vocal, it’s normal for them to spontaneously start talking about skin color.  Help your child work through their curiosity by having a conversation about race. It’s also fine to bring up people’s physical differences before your child does. The goal is not to teach them to be “colorblind” but to love and respect people who look different than they do. Correct racial and cultural insensitivities when you witness them, as it is critical to model allyship.

    Just Like Me

    Together We Can

    What if We Were all the Same

    children's books about race and racism

     

    All are Welcome

    Whoever You Are

    What I like About Me

    A Boy Like You

    A Girl Like You
    children's books about race and racism

    The Skin You Live In

    Ages 6+

    When kids start school, their circle of exposure widens, which means that they may need more explicit guidance about race and racism. Kids this age are already receiving messages from TV and media about who has power and who is valued in our society. We must start teaching them to be critical readers and viewers.

    This is also a time when we can begin to teach kids ways to combat racism and prejudice. But to do so, parents may have to first introduce them to the idea that some people get treated unfairly based on their skin color, culture or religion. Kids in this age group can also comprehend contextual examples of their privilege, like living a life without fear of experiencing racism.

     

    Same Same but Different

    Children's books about race

    A Kid’s Book about Racism

    Children's Books on RaceI am Enough

    Children's books about race and racism

    Skin Like Mine

    Ruby’s Birds

    Who Did it First

    We hope you love this list of Children’s books about race and racism and have selected a few to read to your own kids! To foster kindness and help kids discover the value of empathy, check out our Simple Methods for Teaching Kindness and Empathy.

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