Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tis the Season for "Thanks" Giving

With Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of days, some of you may be wondering, "How can I teach my kids about gratitude?" or "How do I ensure that I am raising thankful children?" Every parent wants his/her children to be thankful for the things they have in their life and not take things for granted. Many children know the simple pleases and thank yous, but how do you guarantee that your children truly are grateful?  Here are some great tips on getting your children in the spirit of Thanksgiving by teaching them about gratitude.

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  1. Be a role model. As with many other behaviors children learn best by watching the examples set by parents. Showing children how to be grateful is much more powerful than simply telling children to be grateful. Let your children hear you expressing gratitude to others. 
  2. Tell your children thank you. Ellie, from the Musing Momma blog, writes, "Much like 'give respect to be respected,' children learn to appreciate by being appreciated. Thank your child for clearing the table, for playing nicely with his little sister, for waiting patiently while you finish a phone call. Thank him for just being a downright awesome kid. Show him how it feels to be appreciated and have his effort recognized, what gratitude sounds like, and how easily it can be a part of daily life."

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  3. Thank you notes. Writing thank you cards may seem old fashioned, but when children write thank you notes they will understand the importance of recognizing and acknowledging kind acts or gifts they have received. They will also be less likely to take the gift for granted.
  4. Let kids help out. Jenny from the blog, Mamatoga, says, "The more children contribute around the house, the more they realize how much effort it takes to keep a household running. Giving your child age-appropriate chores like setting the table or feeding a pet (or for teenagers, working a part-time job) will help them appreciate that these tasks require effort and don’t just happen automatically. They will also feel the satisfaction of earning what they have and making a valuable contribution to the family."

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  5. Incorporate gratitude into everyday life. When I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life a couple of years ago, my mom suggested we send each other an email every night with 10 things we were grateful for that had happened that day. Surprisingly, it made a huge difference and put me in a much happier mindset than I had been in before; I looked forward to those nightly emails. While Thanksgiving is the most popular day for giving thanks, don't let gratitude only be shown on this one day of the year. Have children keep a gratitude journal or every night at dinner go around the table and have each member of the family share something they are grateful for that day. 
  6. Read Thanksgiving books. Many children learn certain concepts best (such as gratitude) by reading picture books. Read one of these fun Thanksgiving picture books with your children.

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  7. Give back and volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to inspire children to be thankful. When children have the opportunity to experience another's gratitude, they will recognize and be grateful for the things that they have. This can be accomplished in several ways: donating clothes to a local thrift store, buying and donating a toy for children in need, or something as simple as baking cookies and taking them to the neighbors. There are so many fun ways to get your children involved in service. 
  8. Practice saying no. This means not giving your child everything she wants. This can be very hard at times, especially when your child is looking at you with big puppy dog eyes begging for a new toy. Just remember if you do not give her everything she asks for, she will be more appreciative of the things she does receive. 
  9. Thankful Turkey Box. If you are looking for a fun way to show what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving, click here to make this cute turkey box. Everyday have each member of your family write down something they are thankful for. On Thanksgiving, open the box as a family and read everything you're grateful for. 
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What are some ideas you find helpful to teach your children about gratitude?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful for our Time Together: Fun November Activities

November is a time of thanksgiving and looking back on your life and seeing what you are thankful for.  One of the greatest things I am most thankful for is my family.  Of course we have our fair share of challenges, but when all is said and done they are the most important people in my life. I am thankful for my mom's effort in getting the family together to do things together. She is an elementary school teacher, so many times she would do little games or activities with us that she had done with her school kids. Here are some fun ideas she shared with me:

 Don't Eat the Turkey


Make your own or use one like the image above as your game board.  Put one item (usually something you can eat like marshmallows, M&Ms, raisins, etc.) on each square.  Someone will either leave the room or close their eyes while everyone else chooses one of the turkey pictures.  When the person returns or uncovers their eyes, they start picking up the items from each turkey picture until they go to pick up the one from the picture you had chosen.  When they go to pick that one up you all say, "Don't Eat the Turkey!" and their turn is over.  They get to keep and eat all the ones they had picked up to that point.    

Disguise the Turkey


Find a picture of a turkey or draw one using your hand as an outline (the thumb becomes the head of the turkey and the rest of the fingers are the feathers).  The point of this activity is to disguise the turkey so he won't get eaten on Thanksgiving Day.  You can decorate it together, or each make one yourself.  You can either use crayons or markers to color, or cut out pieces of paper and glue them on. Make it as simple or complex as you'd like. Then you can hang them up on the fridge or around the house as fun reminders of your time together.

"Orange" Pumpkin

This is just a fun healthy little snack to make together.


Mandarin or clementine oranges
Celery sticks (cut into strips-about 1 1/2-2 inches long)
You'll need as many celery sticks as oranges you have


Peel the oranges and then put the celery stick in the middle of the orange to make it look like a pumpkin with a stem.  You can just eat them, use them as little decorations, or even make it into an activity where you have to say something you're grateful for before you can eat each orange slice. 

These are just some fun ideas you can do with your kids. You can alter them as needed. The point is to have fun this Thanksgiving season with quality time spent together that they will remember.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside: Keeping Your Child Warm & Safe During Winter

    Brrr…it’s getting cold outside. Although we are only in the middle of November, temperatures have already dropped quite a bit.  It’s easy to want to just stay inside curled up next to the fireplace when it is cold outside. This makes it difficult to keep kids active during the winter months, but don’t let the cold deter you.

    Kids can still go outside and play and have fun, but there are a few things to keep in mind to keep them warm and safe. As one of my sibling's Physical Education teacher always said, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!"

1) Dress in layers. Layers are great because they can be adjusted more easily as needed.  There are three types of layers to consider, as offered by Cheryl Butler. They include:

  • Wicking: thermals, turtlenecks, long underwear 
  • Insulating: sweatshirts, sweaters
  • Weather protection: shells, snow pants

Don't forget hats, gloves, and boots as these tend to be places children can lose a lot of heat from. 

2) Wear sunscreen. Although it's easy to forget during the winter, sunburns can be just as likely during the winter (especially when there's snow, as it reflects the sun).  

3) Drink plenty of liquids. Kids can easily get dehydrated as winter tends to be a lot drier and as they breathe, they lose more water.  Keeping them hydrated can also help to prevent those unwanted bloody noses.  Give them water, warm drinks, or even soup to do the trick.

4) Set time-limits: Children tend not to realize they are cold when they're out having fun, so it's important for parents to monitor this.  Depending on the age, keep children out for short periods of time and then have them come in to warm up and take off wet clothing. After they are warm, you can send them back out for more play time.  

Sometimes it's just too cold to be outside, so here are 20 tips for indoor activities to do with your kids. 

What are some fun things you can do with your kids outside or inside during the winter?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Traveling With Little Ones

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, many of you will be traveling to spend the holidays with your friends and families. Whether you are traveling to your destination by car or airplane, taking an infant or small child with you can be stressful. Here are some helpful tips to keep your stress levels down and help you have a relaxing journey.

Tips for traveling by car

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  • One of the most important things you can do before you leave on your trip is to make sure your baby's car seat is properly installed. Guidelines for Utah can be found here.
  • Plan to leave around the time your child usually takes a nap. This will ensure that your baby gets her sleep. 
  • An extra rear view mirror can give you an extra set of eyes when traveling alone. You can also travel with another adult or an older child who can be an extra set of hands while on the road. 
  • Bring a baby/small child specific first aid kit. A few examples of things that you can put inside include medicines, diaper rash cream, a thermometer, tweezers and a list of your child's doctors, allergies, and medical records. 
  • Pack a cooler full of snacks, baby food or breast milk and pre-filled sippy cups that can be grabbed easily. 
  • When it's time to feed your baby pull over and take him out of the car seat to avoid choking 
  • Avoid medications, drinks or food that might cause you to drive impaired. Don't drive if you are tired.

Tips for traveling by airplane

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  • Schedule your flight around your baby's sleeping schedule. It is likely that he will sleep through the flight and you might be able to catch up on some rest.
  • Know your airline's rules about car seats and strollers. Most likely you will have to leave the stroller at the gate and some airlines require you to keep your child in your lap rather than his/her own seat (depending on age).
  • Pick an aisle seat. If your baby is fussy or needs to be changed you can get in and out at your convenience. If you are traveling with another adult consider sitting across the aisle from each other rather than next to each other. 
  • Keep your ID readily available. If flying internationally make sure your baby has a passport.
  • Diaper bag:
    • Be armed with an arsenal of activities for your child. these can include coloring books, toys, stickers, a tablet with games or movies, picture books, etc. Keep items that you will need often at your feet. Sometimes turbulence will keep you in your seat the entire flight and having items readily accessible will be helpful,
  • Giving your child a pacifier or something to eat at the beginning of the flight can combat the pressure that may build in your baby's ears.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening requirements for babies and children can be found here

Bonus Tip: pack your little ones clothing in gallon sized Ziploc bags. You can bag by outfit and have everything your little one needs right in one place. No more digging around your bag or forgetting things at home

What tips do you have for traveling with infants or small children?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Craft Ideas for Children

Looking for some fun Thanksgiving themed craft ideas for your children? There are many educational and fun ways to make fall and Thanksgiving a memorial time for you and your child. Here are a few different turkey crafts that are quick, easy and kid friendly.

Leaf Turkey

Do you and your kids like to take nature walks? If so, this is the perfect opportunity to gather some leaves for the first craft.

Supplies needed
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  • various leaves
  • different colors of construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • googly eyes (optional)
Cut out a turkey body out of brown construction paper. Have your child make feet, a beak and giblet and then glue them to the body. Create a colorful tail using the leaves you collected together and glue them to the paper. Next glue the body on top of the tail and you are all done.

Toilet Roll Turkey

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Are you looking for ways to reuse household items? This toilet roll turkey is a perfect way to reuse an item that normally just gets thrown away. 

Supplies needed
  • empty toilet paper rolls
  • construction paper
  • colored markers
  • scissors
  • tape or glue
Using the colored markers or construction paper, help your child make eyes, beak and other facial features for their turkey. Attach them to the empty toilet paper roll with glue or tape. Cut out 4-5 feathers for your turkeys tail out of different colors of construction paper. Ask your child a few things they are thankful for and write the answers on the tail feathers. Attach with glue or tape and use them as decoration or a center piece for your table. 

Easy Leaf Wreath

Do you have leftover leaves from making those leaf turkeys? Here is a fun idea to make a wreath to decorate your door.
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Supplies needed
  • paper plate
  • Elmer's glue or a hot glue gun
  • leaves
  • scissors
  • ribbon or string to hang the wreath with
Cut out a 4-5 inch circle out of the middle of your paper plate and discard. Using the Elmer's glue or hot glue gun, help your child glue the leaves around the paper plate to create a wreath. Continue to glue until the plate is covered. Let dry and attach a ribbon or string and hang your child's creation on the door.

What are some ways that you teach your kids about Thanksgiving?