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Activities for Kids

  • 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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  • 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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  • 20 Unique Amazon Finds to Get Kids Through Quarantine

    School closures and stay home orders have us running out of ideas to keep kids entertained while stuck at home. Some days it is downright difficult to keep everyone occupied without resorting to screen time (and yes we’re doing our fair share of that!).

    We know we’re all in the same boat, so we did a little digging. After some deep amazon browsing, we found 20 unique products and activities for kids of all ages that we want to share with our readers, in the hopes that we can lighten the load. We’re fairly confident that these fun finds will occupy kids in an enriching way, and can provide parents the time to accomplish tasks. Win-Win!

    Check out these 20 unique Amazon finds to get kids through Quarantine with quick links provided below!

     

    Terrarium Kit

    Have kids grow their own habitat and experience the wonder of nature with this Grow N’ Glow Terrarium kit! Comes with everything you need for two full plant life cycles including the plastic mason-style jar, decorative lid, potting mix, organic chia and wheat grass seeds, garden figurines, decorative sand, river stones and a plant mister to keep your terrarium watered. Additionally, add dimension to your terrarium with translucent glow-in-the-dark stickers that light up your terrarium at night! The perfect STEAM activity that mixes science and art. Recommended for ages 6+

     

    Butterfly Kit

    Witness one of nature’s most spectacular transformations up close with this amazing butterfly garden! This STEM treat comes with everything you need and a full set of instructions to watch caterpillars change to butterflies via metamorphosis. Incredible!

    How to Draw Book

    I need this instructional guide for when my kids ask me to draw them their favorite animals! Simple step-by-step line illustrations make it easy for children (and their parents ha!) to draw with confidence. Each title contains 101 different images in all manner of shapes, sizes and poses.

     

    Floor is Lava Interactive Game

    Who doesn’t remember playing the floor is lava as a kid? Now it’s a board game! Players must imagine the floor is molten hot lava while spinning the color wheel to jump to the right foam pieces to reach safety. The Floor is Lava! is a family game that promotes physical activity, an active imagination, and engaging excitement for kids and adults.

     

    Garden Kit

    Pizza lovers rejoice: Kids can now paint and plant their own pizza herb garden! Paint the planter and plant markers, and sow the basil, oregano and Arugula herbs with vibrant colors and tasty flavors. Follow along with the included step-by-step instruction. The kit includes a tin planter, plastic liner, soil, 3 seed packets, 6-color paint strip, 2 paint brushes, paint palette, 3 wooden plant markers, shovel, watering bottle, and beautiful instruction booklet.

    Sand Art Bottle Kit

    In our world, Melissa & Doug can do no wrong. As one of our favorite toy brands, we love this sand art bottle kit made to entertain kids for hours at a time!

     

    Yoga Mat

    Why not start them early? These yoga mats for kids are ideal for children and are designed to be fun and provide a healthy outlet that teaches a healthy body image, concentration, balance and calm even in the face of too much silliness. The mats are slightly sticky with a light tack, providing a safe and secure grip. A downloadable yoga class specifically designed for kids is included with your mat purchase to help get your little one started!

    Jigsaw Puzzles

    These 12 themed wooden jigsaw puzzles feature 24 durable wooden pieces that fit together smoothly to display under the sea, farm, safari, and insects. We love that the the large size of the pieces eliminate a choking hazard!

     

    Sidewalk Chalk

    Let your kids flex their creativity with drawings and inspiring messages using sidewalk chalk!

     

    Paint by Stickers Book

    Calling all paint enthusiasts! Paint by Sticker includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings.” The images—including sunflowers, a fox, a hummingbird in mid-flight, two boats on the water are brilliantly made into a 3D effect. As in paint-by-number, each template is divided into dozens of spaces, each with a number that corresponds to a particular colored sticker. Find the sticker, peel it, and place it in the right space. Add the next, and witness it come to life!

    Scratch Art

    This is a Trace-Along title! This fun and easy art activity book allows budding artists to use the wooden drawing tool enclosed to trace the white outlines on black-coated scratch art pages.  They can also use the sketch pages in the back to draw their own pictures of favorite animal friends. Hard covered binding makes this grab-and-go activity extra resilient. 20 scratch-off, 20 illustrated, and 20 sketch pages. Recommended for ages 5 and up!

     

    Balance Stepping Stones

    Here we have a physical activity challenge and an award winning toy to boot! Kids can show off their balancing skills while jumping from stone to stone. Create a new obstacle playground everyday! These foam stepping stones are both flexible and durable, lightweight and soft to the touch. Balance Stepping Stones were awarded the 2019 TOY OF THE YEAR AWARD for excellence by Creative Child Magazine!

     

    Kite Kit

    Another absolutely great idea and huge hit with kids, DIY Kite kits! Kids can custom decorate their own kite, then fly them high.  This is easy to assemble and comes with 3 kites to decorate, 8 multi color markers, and long ribbon colorful tails. 

     

    Bubble Wands

    Bubble Wands

    Bubbles are the universal pleasure tool for kids! Bubble up with this 4 pack and let the fun ensue!

     

    Button Art for Toddlers

    All the creativity without the mess, it’s button art for toddlers! This mosaic pegboard comes equipped with 50 Buttons and 18 pictures.

    Rock Painting Kit

    Spread kindness and positivity by painting and hiding rocks throughout your community for other kids to find. Just add imagination for endless creative fun! This complete craft kit comes with 10 rocks for designing, 8 waterproof paint colors, paint brush, rock transfer designs and tracking stickers. Waterproof art supplies make it possible to hide your painted rocks outdoors! 

     

    Craft Supply Kit

    This is your one stop shop for everything craft related! Stoke your child’s imagination and develop creative skills with all the arts & crafts that you could possibly create.

     

    Card Games

    UNO just got even more fun with this childhood favorite, UNO EMOJI style game!

    Score big with this party-sized edition of the best-selling dice game! It’s simple to play but each decision is crucial. The more numbers that are crossed off, the more points scored. With no downtime between turns, kids have a chance to gain from each and every roll! This deluxe game includes 8 dry erase markers and boards, plus bonus Qwixx Mixx game for alternate play. Heck yes!

     

    Puppet Craft Kit

    We love this felt hand puppet craft kit that makes 12 puppets! Some of the many benefits to puppet creation include dramatic play, imagination, role play, learning, and creativity. Kit comes equipped with everything a child would need to make their own fantastical puppets.

     

    Magic Science Kit

    We saved the best for last! Let your child explore their inner wizard with this spell-making kit! This unique educational pack will teach kids the science behind the color-changing magic.  Supplies include 4 test tubes with stand, 1 clear tube wand with 2 caps, 2 measuring scoops, Purple paper, star stickers and activity guide. Definitely recommended for children 6 years of age and older with adult supervision. Viola! 

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  • Happy Earth Children’s PRINTABLE Earth Day Activity

    As a self-proclaimed tree hugger it’s important to me that my kids understand the importance of Earth Day and why it’s vital to the future of our planet to set aside time to care for it. This activity is a simple and effective way to have that teachable moment on what keeps Earth healthy and thus, happy. On the opposite side, it highlights the actions that impact our environment in a negative way.

    Watch as they sort & learn the small ways we can reduce and reuse to protect our precious planet. We’ve included the FREE Happy Earth Children’s Earth Day Activity printable. It’s available for download at the bottom of this post. Happy Earth Day!

    Picture of Happy Earth Printable activity for Earth Day learning and creating.

    You will need:

    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Blue or green construction paper
    • The Rock It Mama Earth Day printable (Two-page download at the bottom of post)

    Directions

    Glue the sorting chart page on either the green or blue construction paper for aesthetic purposes. Next, cut the two earths first and have your child distinguish between the happy earth vs. the sad earth. Glue both earths on the top of each side of the T chart.

    As each graphic is cut out, have a conversation about the picture and what is taking place. Explain why each picture either makes the Earth happy or sad based on what is occurring. Lastly, have them glue the graphic on the correct side of the T chart.

    Cutting Happy Earth printable for Earth Day learning activity.

    Just look at that focus! (Insert heart eyes)

    He’s well on his way to becoming a passionate environmentalist. Need more fun ideas for appreciating nature and the world around us? Add these 7 Nature and Exploration Ideas for Kids to your list!



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  • Fun Valentine’s Day Themed Activities for Preschoolers

    I call this time of year the winter lull. We’re post holiday season, mostly cooped up indoors, and running out of ideas to keep the littles even mildly entertained. When I’m all out of options and in serious need of a fresh activity to keep my preschooler occupied, I turn to something creative or crafty, and perhaps sensory in nature. And because I’m all about themes, I try to connect the activity to the time of year, which is why these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities ideas are centered around our favorite February holiday.

    So mama, if you’ve found yourself in a similar boat and the kids are in dire need of a new interest (and for you a moment of silence) give these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers a whirl, and make sure to tell us what you think in the comments below!

    1. Love Soup

    I LOVE this Valentine themed sensory activity that you can potentially piece together without even leaving the house! Let your child pretend to create cups of “Love soup” with the colored water and foam hearts. Caution: it may get wet!

    You will need:

    • A plastic bin filled with water
    • Red food coloring
    • Foam hearts
    • Heart themed cups
    • Kitchen utensils (for pouring and measuring)
    • Towel for clean up

    It’s important to note that while participating in this Love Soup sensory activity, children build skills in many different areas. Measuring and guesstimating amounts can be applied to math and science. Socially, kids can develop team-working skills. Sensory play can also be used as a calming tool & distraction for tantrums. It also provides your child an opportunity to explore their senses – touch, sight, sound (even smell & taste if you want to go there) while they simultaneously learn and discover. Cheap, easy to make, and a stimulating experience right at home. Yum!

    2. Love Monster Book & Craft

    This children’s book is one of my favorites for the Valentines Day Holiday and has a wonderful message about sharing with friends and the joys of giving. Crafts involving characters are a great way to get your kids excited about reading materials. You can purchase Love Monster and the Last Chocolate here!

    You will need:

    • 1 Paper Plate (per craft)
    • Red Tissue Paper
    • Glue
    • Kid Friendly Scissors
    • Red/White/Black Colored Cardstock

    Directions:

    • First cut your red tissue paper into small squares
    • Put a good amount of glue all over your paper plate
    • Have your child place the tissue paper on top of the glue, until the paper plate is completely covered
    • While your child is working on that, cut out the other “love” monster embellishments from the cardstock. Think eyes, ears, mouth etc.
    • To finish the Love Monster themed kid craft – glue on the facial features to the paper plate and display proudly

    3. Heart Hunt

    This one is excellent for releasing some of that pent up energy! Hide the hearts around your home (much like an easter egg hunt) and have your child perform the exercise listed on each heart as they’re discovered. To keep it interesting, offer a prize at the end once all of the hearts have been collected! I used simple actions like “jump on one foot” and “sing the ABCs” but feel free to cater it to activities your little can execute.

    You will need:

    • Foam or paper hearts of various colors (foam will hold up better but I used paper since I already had it)
    • Marker

     

    And there you have it! The Heart Hunt. We hope these fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers help to liven the mood in your household and offer a switch to your normal routine!

    Another super sweet idea for Vday fun: Homemade Air Fryer Donuts!

     

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  • 8 Ways to Pay it Forward this Holiday Season

    Charitable pro-tip: you don’t have to have to be a billion dollar philanthropist to make the world a better place.

    While the holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the best aspects of our lives, it can be easy to forget our community members in need.

    This year, families are experiencing unique challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including joblessness, financial insecurity, mental health issues, and general loneliness. It is now more important than ever to get involved.

    To extend a giving hand in the spirit of the Holidays and to inspire compassion, we’ve compiled 8 easy, Covid-19 friendly ways to bring meaning to your holiday season, and to hopefully ease the burdens of those struggling right now.

    Together we can make a difference!

    Toy drive

    Toys for tots is a wonderful organization specializing in toy collection.  Every year dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers host a nationwide campaign to deliver Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. You can find a nearby toys for tots chapter here.

    Sponsoring a family in need is another great way to pay it forward. In lieu of our secret Santa gift exchange one year, my girlfriends and I sponsored a family and each of us selected a child to buy for. 

    When it was all said and done the entire family had gifts to open on Christmas morning. If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredibly rewarding form of donation, click here.

    Coat drive

    Give the gift of warmth this winter. Clean out the closet and donate old coats and jackets to a homeless or battered women’s shelter. For many Americans living below the poverty line, a new warm coat is considered a budget extra.

    When the time comes that your kids have grown out of their winter gear, consider donating to a coat drive such as the one facilitated by One Warm Coat.

    Many coat drive collectors also ask for hand and toe warmers for those working in the cold or homeless. These are cheap to purchase, and go a long way in keeping folks enduring the cold warm this winter.

    Canned food drive

    Nonperishable food drives are happening everywhere this time of year. Pick up some extra canned foods during the weekly grocery run and drop them off at a food bank, church or any center accepting canned food donations.

    Also, check with your child’s school, as many collect canned food around the holidays as well.

    Donate Toiletries

    When donating, many people forget the need for hygiene products at shelters and deliver food-oriented goods instead. Its always a great idea to check in with the center and find out what products are in demand.

    Think paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, diapers, etc. Another fun way to gather supplies is to host a toiletry drive.

    Have friends and family literally drive by and drop off hygiene product donations and watch the goods pile up.

    Help a Neighbor

    As the old homage goes “Love thy neighbor” and what better time to show kindness than the holiday season, and hint, it doesn’t always have to be in the form of baked goods.

    Maybe your neighbor needs their driveway shoveled or some help with the pets while they travel. Perhaps they’re spending the Holidays alone this year due to Covid-19 and social distancing, and just need someone to talk to.

    It never hurts to ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. There’s also a good chance your good deed will be reciprocated!

    Give Blood

    In healthcare settings across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations.

    Important: The CDC is encouraging people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe.

    Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time.

    You can learn more here.

    Look for posters advertising local blood drives or stop by a blood donation center to ensure blood supply for ongoing patient needs and unforeseen trauma situations.

    Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

    Let’s not forget our furry friends. If adoption is just completely out of the question (I mean, what better gift for your loved one than a puppy) volunteer some of your spare time at a local animal shelter.

    Help with dog walking, cleaning or donate pet food and toys. Some shelters will even let you bring home a pet for the holidays so they don’t have to spend this special time of year alone. Our animals deserve love too.

    Start at Home

    Our children are the fingerprints we leave on the world when we’re gone. It is vital to instill the values of kindness, empathy and compassion on the generation we are raising.

    Kids can be taught with explanation and led by example. Paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a friend move may seem like simple acts of generosity, but when our children are watching, it is possible to impress upon them a lifelong commitment to kindness and benevolence.

    Do society a favor and get your kids involved in philanthropy early and often. For more information be sure to look into The Kindness Campaign.

    Looking for a quick act of kindness? Check out this sweet, small gift. DIY Scrabble Tile Ornament

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