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  • Quick and Easy St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt for Kids

    For St. Patrick’s Day, we like to make it a celebration around here. I’m talking green attire, lucky charms, rainbows; the works! And since we will be stuck at home again this year, I decided to come up with a fun-filled scavenger hunt that will keep the kids busy and entertained.

    Normally we have some fun with leprechaun traps and Irish music, but what better way to to find a pot of gold than with silly clues and a thrilling search around the house?

    Keep scrolling for our FREE printable St. Patrick’s Day scavenger hunt!

    These printable hints are easy to follow and generic enough to be used in most homes. I cut mine out, then glued each printable to a gold background to really make them pop and stand out.

    Just follow the clues, lay them out in the designated spaces and leave a simple (or elaborate) pot of gold at the end. Magic!

    This particular tiny pot I purchased at the dollar store along with the gold, chocolate coins inside. Big fan of dollar store prices!

    I decided to add a little green to make it fun with the small pom poms, but glitter, beads, or green candy are other options.

    Another fun idea is to make a glitter trail from clue to clue, or leprechaun footprints leading up to each printable. Adding as much magic as you can will make the hunt more memorable and enjoyable for the kids!

    As the old Irish blessing goes, “May joy and peace surround you, contentment latch your door, and happiness be with you now and bless you evermore!”

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    For more fun with kids check out our 7 Nature Activities and Exploration Ideas for Kids!

    Picture of natures activities
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  • 5 Simple Christmas Eve Traditions your Family will Love

    For me as a child, nothing compared to the magic of Christmas eve.

    The memories of warm fires, family time, good company, and the burning anticipation; it all hits me in a wave of nostalgia this time of year, and inspires me to come up with special traditions for my own family to look back on.

    My hope is that they will carry the same joyful Christmas spirit in their lives that I do, and subsequently, spread the goodness that accompanies the holiday season.

    It warms my heart to think the traditions we begin in our boys’ early lives, will likely be the same ones we practice 10-15 years from now!

    Christmas eve traditions

    But I’m also a firm believer that it is never too late to create a tradition, or to add something new to spice up the holiday as well.

    For example, the pickle ornament idea is something my parents incorporated on our holiday traditions list when we were teenagers. Now it’s a Christmas Eve staple!

    And we certainly can’t dismiss the importance of family traditions in general. Studies show family traditions are the basis in creating family culture. Traditions nurture bonds between siblings and parents, and develop a sense of familial belonging. All good stuff!

    Whether you’re stocking up on ideas for future Christmas Eves or right in the thick of it with your own family, here are 5 Unique Family Traditions for Christmas Eve.

    The Pickle Ornament Hunt

    This is one of my favorite Christmas eve traditions, and a game that I know my boys will delight in for years to come. It’s quite simple, first the pickle ornament is hidden deep in the branches of the tree.

    Then, the hunters search high and low until they discover the bright green pickle and win a prize. We usually make the winnings monetary, but another fun piece to this, would be allowing the winning child to open one gift!

    The winner of the pickle prize is also said to have been gifted a year of good fortune.

    Link to download your own pickle below!

    Make Reindeer Food

    How is it fair that Santa gets to eat all the treats, while the reindeer carry the heavy load? Something must be done to balance this careless injustice!

    Have your kids whip up some snacks for the reindeer with this fun reindeer food recipe:

    Start with any of these base ingredients:

    • Oats
    • Cheerios
    • Chex Mix
    • Bird seed

    Then add the mix-ins:

    • Chocolate chips
    • Marshmallows
    • M&Ms
    • Chopped carrots or celery
    • Nuts
    • Craisins/raisins
    • Sprinkles or edible glitter

    Have kids sprinkle the reindeer food on the deck, patio, ground or wherever they’re assuming the reindeer will land for the evening.

    Winter Hike

    For a holiday that can get choked up on the consumer and commercialism, why not get back to the basics with a winter hike!

    Bundle up and head out on a nature trail.

    Christmas Eve book Exchange

    In the country of Iceland there is a Christmas eve tradition called Jólabókaflóð (I think I spelled that right!) where each family member gifts the other a book to read, and afterwards, the evening is spent cuddled up reading together.

    Iceland has a rich legacy of being extremely well-read. The country has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.

    This “Yule Book Flood” inspires a cozy evening with parents snuggled up reading new books to their kids, or quietly by the fire with some hot cocoa after bedtime.

    As a big advocate for literacy and a self proclaimed bookworm looking to pass on a love for reading to my kids, I can’t love this tradition enough!

    Cookie Baking Contest

    Cookies, sweets, treats, whatever your family prefers, make it a baking competition!

    Have each person choose a new recipe (or a new spin on a family favorite) and vote on which one takes the proverbial cake.

    Christmas eve traditions

    Another idea on the topic of sweets is to celebrate with Holiday cheer in the form of Hot Cocoa! Warm up the evening with a Hot Cocoa bar.

    Allow kids to come up with their own creations, from whipped cream toppings to those super fun Hot chocolate bombs that are everywhere on Pinterest right now.

    YUM!

    We hope you’re able to incorporate atleast one of these fantastic traditions into your Christmas eve!

    For more holiday cheer- check out our DIY scrabble tile ornament!

    Christmas Eve
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  • Easy DIY Christmas Ornament for 2020

    Shew. 2020.

    What a ride it has been. I believe I can speak for everyone when I say, we will be happy to put this one behind us.

    When coming up with an idea for an easy DIY 2020 Christmas ornament, I wanted to keep it light, while still featuring an image that will remind us of what we’ve endured this year, when we look back in the future.

    What better way to remember the Holiday season of 2020 than with a masked Santa and reindeer, am I right?

    DIY christmas ornament

    This “Christmasked” DIY craft is easy enough for a child to make (as long as a parent does the drilling!). All you need is our FREE masked Santa and reindeer printable available for download (keep scrolling!) modge podge, a slice of wood, twine, and a drill to create the hole.

    Unless, of course, you use the pre-drilled slices which I’ve found on Amazon and other craft suppliers. Both are linked below!

    Perfect for your family tree, or as a gift to others, let’s work through this Easy DIY 2020 Christmas ornament, and relish in the holiday spirit that even this tumultuous year can’t deny us.

    You will need:

    • Downloadable masked Santa and reindeer printable below
    • Wood slices
    • Twine
    • Modge Podge
    • Drill
    DIY christmas ornament

    Start with the wood slice. Drill a hole for the twine at the top. Pre-drilled natural wood slices are available to purchase as well, if you don’t want the hassle of pulling out the drill, or simply don’t have one.

    String the twine through the hole.

    Cut the graphic in a shape similar to the wood slice so it’s evenly spaced. Apply modge podge to the back of the graphic. Place it on the wood, then cover the image again in more modge podge. I assure you, it does not rip the paper!

    Let the modge podge dry completely. And just like that, the ornament is ready to hang!

    If Christmas isn’t your celebration, we’ve included a “Happy Holidays” version of our printable, which is also included upon downloading our graphic through the form below.

    DIY Christmas ornament

    Download your FREE 2020 Christmasked Ornament printable below!

    This Holiday season may we resolve to hold each other a little closer, connect deeper with those we love, and lead with empathy, good faith, and kindness in our interactions with one another.

    We wish you the most peaceful of Holiday celebrations this year, and to all of our loyal readers, may you stay safe, merry and bright!

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    And if you just can’t get enough DIY Christmas tree ornaments this year, check out our Scrabble Tile ornament tutorial here!

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  • DIY Fall Themed Story Stones

    While I’m sure you’ve heard of painted rocks, the question stands: Have you heard of story stones?

    I had not, until a few short weeks ago while searching for ways to paint fall themed rocks. My son and I have been planting painted rocks around our neighborhood for people to find, and we stumbled upon the idea for story stones during a quick google search.

    Now, we’re having so much fun telling stories with our stones, that we’ve been creating them nonstop. So naturally, I’m ready to share the untold benefits of playing with story stones, and how EASY they are to make!

    story stones

    For some clarity, Story Stones are pictures painted or glued onto smooth pebbles, used as an aid in storytelling.

    They can either represent a known story to be placed in order, or they can be a themed selection of images that prompt children to create their own stories.

    Storytelling through story stones can be an excellent tool for developing skills such as social communication, creativity, logical thinking and support learning through play objectives.

    Stories are an inclusive way to help children learn no matter what their abilities!

    Fall themed Story Stones Printable

    For our homemade stones, we coat the printable images in modge podge to seal to them to the stone. So far, it’s been working great! And, it’s a craft my 4 year old can do alongside me.

    I decided to create a Fall themed printable to inspire stories about all the exciting pieces that make autumn such a special season. Watch this imagination running wild!

    Simple directions:

    1. Cut the images out
    2. Use Modge Podge to glue the image to the stone (the entire image should be glossed over, front and back)
    3. Let dry for an hour or so
    4. The fun begins!

    The modge podge we use for our stones is linked above!

    There are so many ways to enjoy these creative pebbles and promote imaginative play. Try adding them to a sensory bin, or categorizing with flashcards. We like to create narratives with our stones outside under the sunshine.

    Let us know how you use your story stones in the comments below!

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    For more nature based learning, check out these 7 Nature Activities and Ideas for Outdoor Exploration for kids!

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  • Activities for Teaching Gratitude – FREE Printables!

    In a world where everything is at our fingertips, and a feeling of privilege and entitlement can come natural – it can be difficult to instill an “attitude of gratitude” in our children.

    And while exercising manners and being courteous are expected behaviors, teaching gratitude to young minds can have lifelong positive effects. However, learning this practice takes time and effort; after all gratitude is a mindset.

    teaching gratitude

    Thankfully, there are techniques you can establish with your child today to begin cultivating feelings and expressions of gratitude – and what better time to develop an “attitude of gratitude” than the start of this holiday season?

    Studies show strong associations between showing gratefulness and improved happiness.

    I started practicing intentional gratitude after my first was born in an attempt to ease anxiety. I learned quickly that when I regularly took time to give thanks and share a sense of abundance around me, I attracted a goodness that elevated my mood and carried me through the day.

    So now, instilling the practice of gratitude in my kids is extremely important to me as a parent. What better time to emphasize gratitude than the month of November, when Thanksgiving is at the forefront of our of planning.

    There are many benefits to exercising gratitude, and introducing this practice early on in a child’s life may increase mental strength, boost empathy and augment overall well-being.

     This week we have put together a collection of activities you and your child can both do together. We encourage using these techniques daily as a way to make gratitude a meaningful part of the day.

    1. Write in a Gratitude Journal

    Gratitude journals are great for both children and adults. Taking time to reflect and report your positive daily experiences can increase your overall happiness.

    In a 2003 study by Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, participants who kept gratitude journals for 9 weeks resulted in exercising more regularly, reporting fewer physical complaints, expressing optimism concerning the upcoming week and had higher ratings of joy and happiness.

    We have created a simple and fun gratitude journal print-out with both morning and evening prompts your child can use to build a healthy habit of gratitude starting today. Download the FREE printable below.

    2. Go on a Hunt!

    Make learning fun with a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt! We’ve created the perfect list to find the little things to be thankful for – and it’s perfect for adults to play along too.

    3. Serve Others

    An easy way to teach gratitude is by exposing our children to different perspectives. By serving those around us, we are reminded to be grateful for what we have, while also learning to be more empathetic. There are plenty of ways to actively serve others. See some ideas below!

    Image showing different ways to show gratitude by serving others

    4. Turn it into a Conversation

    One of the best ways to express gratitude, is by simply talking about it! By carving out a few minutes of your day or week and playing a conversation game, you and your child will exercise feelings of gratitude and also open up dialogue for deeper and more meaningful conversations.

    And since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, why not start a Grateful Tree? See our post on how to make your own here.

    We hope these activities will help your child to understand and foster feelings of gratefulness into their lives, but its best to remember that leading by example is what makes it stick!

    If you have a favorite activity or tips on instilling an “attitude of gratitude,” feel free to share in the comments below.

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    gratitude
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  • Parenting Styles: Guidance vs Control

    In today’s unpredictable world, the route to raising kids who are kind, cooperative and happy can be hard to navigate.

    For parents, there’s an underlying pressure to bring up well-behaved children that meet societal expectations, while also providing them the space to become who they are meant to be. At times, these two concepts seem to be at odds.

    While doing research on the subject, I discovered a method to parenting that emphasizes guidance over control.

    As a positive parenting advocate, I have to say the distinction is a game changer, and I’m a huge fan of the guiding approach. It was a real eye opener to discover that most of my parenting was done via control!

    Guiding a child (rather than controlling) encourages their autonomy and agency as an individual, while allowing the parent to be in control of the situation. 

    Guidance can improve relationships and offer kids the room to explore their own choices within clearly defined boundaries.

    Guidance vs Control Parenting Styles Defined:

    Guidance: Encouraging a child to be their best self, while allowing them to make choices and decisions, with parental support and love.

    Control: Can be coercive, authoritative, manipulative or critical. Controlling a child may hinder their ability to build important decision making skills and impede self identity.

    A critical aspect of guiding a child is respect. Remember, your child is an individual with their own thoughts, feelings and ideas. Respecting their autonomy will instill trust in your relationship.

    It’s also important to have discussions with empathy. Get down on your child’s level to better understand their behavior, before immediately reacting and inflicting consequence. Follow the positive parenting mantra, to share calm, without contributing to escalation.

    Let’s break it down via conversation styles.

    Ordering vs Explaining:

    Examples:

    Order: Clean your room right now.

    Instead, try this:

    Explain: When your room is clean, it’s easier to find things when you need them. It also sets the tone for a good day, to wake up in an organized bedroom. Want to give it a try?

    Cooperation vs Coercion:

    Examples:

    Coercion: Clean your room or I’m going to take your tablet away.

    Instead, try this:

    Cooperation: Let’s clean your room together, and get it done faster.

    Criticism vs Feedback:

    Examples:

    Criticism: Your room is a disaster. You’re messy.

    Instead, try this:

    Feedback: I’ve noticed that your room is a little messy. You may find that you feel more organized if you keep your room clean.

    Dictate vs Discuss

    Examples:

    Dictate: You better have your room cleaned by the time I get home.

    Instead, try this:

    Discuss: Let’s come up with ways to organize your room so it is easier to keep clean.

    Notice the difference?

    Talk to kids about the “why” of what you are requesting. Help them understand, for example, why having a clean room will positively affect them, without criticizing for being messy.

    It’s important to note that yes, while controlling a child, temporary results are possible. For example, most children will act swiftly when a parent threatens removal of a favorite toy or game.

    However, if we place emphasis on raising kids with a growth mindset, control no longer fits in the equation.

    Children with a growth mindset know they can overcome challenges and learn new ways to accomplish things. It is resilience that we want to build, not concession. Ask yourself, do you want your child to comply out of fear? Or because it is the right thing to do?

    If guidance is the key, kids will come to their own conclusions about making good choices, as it is what they’ve been trained to do.

    positive parenting

    Lastly, use your best judgement to determine when control is absolutely necessary. In dangerous situations control over a child becomes paramount. If the behavior is risky or malicious, guidance may not be the correct approach. 

    There are times when controlling a child is the natural parental reaction, and that’s okay too! It’s not practical to assume guidance will always be the go-to method. These tools are meant to guide, not to guilt us into feeling like bad parents.

    And remember, we’re all in this together. 

    For more positive parenting techniques, read up on Positive Language Alternatives

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