Have you ever thought about volunteering as a family? It might sound tiring at first, especially when you’re being asked to volunteer during the summer or your vacation time, but volunteering is what the world needs now, and you might be surprised about the massive effects of this simple act of kindness.
Although the idea sounds like something your kids might reject right away, children are much more compassionate than you might think. The world has been struck with so much tragedy, and as parenting information portal More4Kids put it, “Great tragedies have spurred greater generosity, and passing on the idea of charity to your children is just as important as giving yourself.”
As citizens of the world, we should always try to make it a point to help others in need, especially those who don’t readily have access to basic human rights. Adults have plenty of opportunities to give back to the underprivileged, including cash donations, fundraisers, monthly child sponsorships and volunteer opportunities abroad. Children need just as many options for charity to grow up to be caring global citizens, so here are three ideas for the summer that will get your kids excited about philanthropy.
Have an ALSF-registered lemonade stand
Alex Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) surfaced when a 4 year old cancer patient Alexandra Scott announced that her last wish was to have a lemonade stand so that she could help other children like her. Since 2004, families all over the country have followed in Alex’s pursuit in raising funds for child cancer research. ALSF urge you and your kids to fight childhood cancer, one cup at a time, so register your “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” and receive a free fundraising kit to guide you through the whole process.
Look after animals at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
The nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary is located in Southern Utah, and also has a free day camp for families with children aged 6 to 9. Every day of the week, they organize enjoyable and educational activities with their animals. If you can’t make it to Utah this summer, there are local programs in New York City, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City that you can participate with.
Work with Meals on Wheels
The number of seniors is said to double by 2050, which is a great sign that the average lifespan is increasing, but it also means that there are more elderly citizens that need your help. Have your kids pack cold meals, or bring them along with you while delivering meals to seniors. By bringing your kids with you during deliveries, you’re giving them a chance to interact with seniors and understand how important it is to care for them. All of these great volunteering activities can include the whole family.
Stuck indoors, looking for kids activities, I’ve got some fun kids activities to keep the kids from bouncing off the walls. You may have exhausted your list of craft projects and already done our kids fun rainy day activities, yet the kids are still bored. Why not try an indoor scavenger hunt? Here are three fun indoor kids activities.
Kids Activities: Shape Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun kids activities and this is a great one for young children who are just learning about shapes. On a piece of paper, draw simple shapes such as a circle, triangle, or square. Have the kids search the house and find examples of these shapes in everyday items. Cabinet doors become squares and dinner plates become circles. For older kids, turn this scavenger hunt into a competition. See who can find the most circles, squares or triangles. Or make it even harder and have them look for octagons or diamonds. You can have an afternoon filled with fun indoor kids activities just by focusing on shapes.
Kids Activities: Indoor Treasure Hunt
Are you always searching for indoor kids activities for your pirate-loving children? A treasure hunt will take a little bit of work on your part, but your kids will have a lot of fun. Start by making a list of clues to lead them to hiding places. For example: “It’s hidden next to a dark, cool place where food awaits and water chills,” would lead your child to to the refrigerator where they’ll find another clue. This clue should lead them to another hiding spot in your house. After leading your kids through several clues, hide a small “treasure” at the end of the hunt such as a new box of crayons or a pack of stickers. The age of your kids will determine the difficulty of the clues as well as the number of clues you use.
Sensory Scavenger Hunt
Instead of specific items, have your kids search for attributes. For examples, ask your kids to find something soft, something shiny, something heavy or something fuzzy. This scavenger hunt should definitely get their creativity flowing. They may find a blanket that’s soft, a doorknob that’s shiny, or a bed that’s heavy. Have fun listing the attributes and your kids will have fun searching.
Do you have any suggestions for fun indoor kids activities to do when the weather is bad?
More Ideas for Kids Fun–Cooking with Mom
Kids fun ideas, especially at an early age, have a lot to do with home and hearth. Baking cookies, making decorations, or just reading with Mom were such special times. I try to include my kids somehow in whatever activity I am doing around the house. I bought special slip on socks that they can skate down the hallway wearing to help dust the hardwood floors. I have step stools so they can help me cook, and, of course, I keep a book of fairy tales by my own bedside in case they want to cuddle up with me on a rainy day. One of the best kids activities that I’ve found is simply cooking. Kids enjoy being a part of food preparation—and who can blame them? It’s relaxing, tasty, and the smells stay with you for a lifetime. As fall approaches there are limitless ideas for what can be made together in the kitchen. One idea that I recently found online is making “apple” lollipops that they can take to school to give to their teachers and classmates.
This will require a tiny bit of prep shopping at a store that sells candy making supplies. Believe it or not, I’ve found everything I need for this at Wal-Mart and Target so you don’t need to trek to a bakery shop for supplies. Unless you really want to, of course.
Kids Fun: Apple Lollypops
You will need:
- Lollipop sticks, dipsticks, or thin straws
- Red candy coating (this can be red melt-able candy wafers or you can use almond bark and red food coloring)
- Chocolate cake mix
- Chocolate icing
- Green fruit rollups
- Pretzel sticks
The first step is just to make and bake the cake according to the package directions. Once the cake has been cooled break it up in a large bowl and mix in the chocolate frosting. Bring the kids in at this point to help you “shape” the apples. This is the epitome of kids fun! They get to put their hands into a gooey chocolate mixture and form tiny apples from it. Have them place the “apples” on a sheet of wax paper while you heat up the red candy coating in a bowl using your microwave.
Step two is just taking the lollipop sticks and sticking them into the “apples” and then dipping the apples in the red candy coating. When you place them on the wax paper to dry the tops will flatten slightly like a Macintosh apple.
When the candy coating is almost dry, allow your children to break off bits of the green fruit rollups to make leaves to place on the top and use a pretzel stick for the stem.
I promise you, not only is this one of those easy kids activities to do with the kids, but they will enjoy both sharing and eating them with their classmates. It’s a tasty alternative to the apple on the desk routine we used to do.
I’d love to hear your idea for cake pops—I’m sure a Halloween pumpkin could be done the same way. Till next time, I hope you enjoyed this tiny example of simple kids fun.
Kids Fun: Rainy Day Activities
We receive a lot of inquiries about things to do as a rainy day kids fun activity. When I was younger my mother purchased me a kid’s craft book. I remember it clearly. There was a sock puppet on the cover and the entire book was filled with children’s crafts (as opposed to adult’s crafts that kids can help with). This thing had everything in it: how to make kites, sock puppets (of course), origami, how to grow a crystal garden out of sugars and salts—I mean, EVERYTHING. If we were ever treated to a rainy day my mother would pull the book out and she and I would find something in it to make. We went through a lot of projects together using that book—I wish I still had it to share with my kids. My favorite, however, was the crystal garden. If you’re looking for one of those kids fun projects that you can start on a rainy day and keep up over time, I absolutely recommend the crystal garden.
Kids Fun: Crystal Garden
All you need to get started is:
• ¼ cup ammonia
• ¼ cup non-iodized salt
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup liquid bluing (they sell Mrs. Stewarts at most grocery stores and Wal-Mart in the detergent section)
• A few pieces of sponge or charcoal
• Food coloring
Find a glass or see-through dish and place the charcoal or sponge on it in any formation or arrangement you want. Take all of the other ingredients except food coloring and mix together. Once they are thoroughly mixed pour over the dish. Drop food coloring on the dish in whatever pattern you like and wait for crystals to appear. This will usually happen overnight. My mother and I would keep adding to our garden a little at a time.
This one of those kids fun projects that is great for a rainy day. It’s fun, it’s messy, and it’s educational. What could be better? Sure, you can buy grow your own crystal kits in stores (and I’m sure they turn out a heck of a lot prettier), but in a pinch…you can always make your own rainy day crystal garden.
For other kids fun ideas on crafts for a rainy day see our post on How to Make a Magic Wand.
New moms find playdates to be a good way to relieve isolation and loneliness. Playdates allow new mothers to connect with other moms to share information and ideas. If you are alone all day, and you think you’re the only one in the universe whose baby cries nonstop or won’t sleep more than two hours at a stretch then it is key to find women with whom you can relate so you can talk about the daily details of caring for a child.
Benefits of Playdates
Babies benefit from a play date by being exposed to new surroundings, toys and other babies. Babies learn by watching the world around them. If the play date is scheduled after nap time the little ones are less likely to be cranky and will interact better with each other. Toddlers may prefer to sit in your lap to watch the action before engaging with the other children if they are new to the experience.
Learning how to share doesn’t come overnight. Do not be surprised when more than one child wants to play with the same toy. The concept of taking turns is not usually understood until around age 2. It is better to attend short duration play dates with a smaller number of children until the children become more accustomed to one another.
Setting up Playdates
If your friends don’t have kids yet, join a playgroup through Mothers of Preschoolers (mops.org), or take a mommy and me class at a community center. You can also look for playdates on meetup.com, craigslist.com, or americanbaby.com/meetmoms.
Check back often to TreasureBoxKids blog for birthday party ideas, birthday and special occasion dresses, and other children’s clothing. In our next activity blog post we will talk about some ideas for playdates and how to host a playdate.