Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Shopping

By Deborah Rowley

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with their families. Now the frenzy of holiday shopping has begun. I was visiting with one of my sister-in-laws on Black Friday and she told me about her family rule. She tells her kids that they will be getting four gifts for Christmas-- one in each of these areas:

Something You Want

Something You Need

Something To Wear

Something to Read

They can write down several suggestions in each area and then "Santa" will choose which gift in each area to give.

I loved this idea! It helps kids learn to distinguish wants vs. needs. It encourages literacy. It prevents kids from running around butt naked! Just kidding. I love that it sets limits and curbs materialism. You may want to try something like this in your family.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude Games to Play With Kids-- Help your child be more thankful today!

By Deborah Rowley

The QR Code Activity that I posted yesterday is a fun way to get your kids thinking about what they are grateful for. See that post here. Here are some other fun gratitude games that you can play to help your child be more thankful. You can play these games on Thanksgiving or any other time of year.

*Note: These ideas came from my book: Before They Turn Twelve.

 Alphabet Gratitude

Write the 26 letters of the alphabet onto a sheet of paper and cut them out. Place all the letters in a bowl, and have a family member draw out a letter. Give the family members one minute to write down-- individually or in teams-- all the things they are grateful for that begin with that letter. Award one point for each item listed. Choose another letter and play again. Draw as many letters out of the bowl as you want. To increase the challenge, award a point only for the blessings that no one else in the family has written down.

The Thanking Chair

Designate one chair at the dinner table as the Thanking Chair. Whoever is sitting in that chair tells five things that he or she is grateful for. Take turns sitting in the Thanking Chair. For added fun, use a silly hat as the Thanking Cap, and place it on the person who shares his or her five grateful things for the night.

Count Your Blessings Candy

Serve a variety of small candies and call them "Count Your Blessings" candy. Family members must name a blessing for each piece of candy they eat.

A Pebble in the Shoe

Give each family member a small pebble to put in one of their shoes and a piece of candy to eat. Have them walk around the living room, eating the candy and feeling the pebble. Ask them which experience they noticed more. Would the candy have been more enjoyable to eat without the pebble as a distraction? Explain that when we are ungrateful and complain, it is like we have a pebble in our shoe. We don't fully experience the sweet blessings that God has given us, and we don't notice them as easily.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Gratitude Challenge with QR Codes

By Deborah Rowley

Here is a fun QR Code Activity your kids can do while you are cooking in the kitchen. Simply print out the QR codes here.

Cut them apart and place them around the house. Depending on your children's ages, you can make the codes easy or hard to find. Hint: If you want the activity to take awhile.... hide the codes really well!

Then give your child your smart phone or iPad with a QR Code Reader. I like Qrafter Pro but you can use any free QR code readers out there.

They will scan each QR Code that they find and then accomplish the challenge that they are given. Each QR Code asks them to take a picture of something that they are grateful for. Here are the QR Code Challenges:

#1 Take a picture of something in nature that you are grateful for.

#2 Take a picture of something in the house that you are grateful for.

#3 Take a picture of someone younger than you that you are grateful for.

#4 Take a picture of someone older than you that you are grateful for.

#5 Take a picture of a food that is going to go on the Thanksgiving table that you are thankful for.

#6Take a picture of an animal or pet that you are grateful for.

#7 Take a picture of a toy that you are grateful for.

#8 Take a picture of something that you take for granted that you are grateful for.

#9 Take a picture of something unusual that you are grateful for.

#10 Take a picture of something God gave you that you are grateful for.

When your child comes back with his or her 10 pictures you will be able to talk about all the things that he or she is grateful for. This will lead to such a fun conversation. Maybe you can sneak him a taste of something yummy that you are cooking as a reward!

If you have more than one child doing this activity, perhaps one child can scan and the other can take the picture or they could take turns with one child doing all the odd numbers and one child doing all the even numbers. Better yet, steal all the smart phones from all the grown ups in the house and send all the kids out to accomplish this challenge!

Thanksgiving Gratitude Challenge QR Codes

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weekend Inspiration and Laughs

Here are a few Thanksgiving videos to inspire you and a hilarious set of gifs that made us all laugh this weekend.

Giving Thanks is More Than a Holiday. It is how Happy People Live.

The Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude

My oldest daughter is a senior in college. She sent us this set of gifs this weekend. Whether or not you have any kids in college, you have to see this. It will really make you smile.

The Difference Between A Freshman and A Senior

Stay tuned for a Thanksgiving QR Code Activity to keep the kids busy while you cook!

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

{DIY} Cheap and Easy Lighthouse

By Deborah Rowley

We have been studying so much about ship voyages lately (Leif Erickson-Columbus-the Pilgrims) that I thought it would be appropriate to make some lighthouses. I had seen terra cotta planter lighthouses before and I loved them but I knew they would be too cost prohibitive to do at school. 
Instead I found this fantastic tutorial for cheap and easy lighthouses at Danielle's place. 

These were perfect! I think I spent a total of 50 cents per lighthouse. They would make a great project for Cub Scouts or Activity Day girls. They would also be fun to make on a rainy or snowy day just for fun!

I think they would look fantastic as a centerpiece on a holiday table. I don't have photographs of all the steps. But Danielle walks you through everything and she has a fantastic pattern for the windows, ladders and railing. She also has an elaborate roof pattern. We elected not to use that pattern for our lighthouses. The kids wanted to go without roofs. 

I did make a roof for mine by cutting a piece of red paper in a circle and then cutting a slit so that I could fold it into a cone.

Here is a list of all the supplies you will need for each lighthouse: 
Three 20 oz. foam cups
1 clear plastic cup (We used 16 oz. plastic cups) 
1 Sheet of Black Fun Foam for the Base
1 Battery-Operated Tea Light
1 Sheet of Card Stock Paper to Print out the Windows etc. 
Red Paper for Roof if Desired
We used black Electrical Tape for our stripes. I think Red Washi Tape would be gorgeous for a red stripped lighthouse! I just didn't have any on hand. 
(Note:  I couldn't find a plastic cup that would fit nicely on top like Danielle's so we just cut our plastic cups to fit)

Wouldn't this make a darling nightlight in a nautical themed room! All you need to do is lift the lid and turn on the candle each night. 

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cardboard Weaving

By Deborah Rowley

We have been learning about the pilgrims at school. I decided my students needed to try some old fashioned weaving. I found this terrific tutorial by Joel. 

Then I Just cut up some squares of cardboard and introduced the idea to the kids. I was amazed at their reaction. They loved it! Even the boys! It kept them occupied over several class periods. I think it would be a fun project to try over the Thanksgiving break and it would keep the kids busy while Mom is in the kitchen. Here is a brief overview of the steps but I would really recommend checking out Joel's tutorial because he is much more thorough. 
Cut the cardboard your desired size. We started small. Our cardboard was only 3x 4 inches. Cut notches on two opposite sides. You need an odd number of notches. We did ours 1 cm apart. 
Start your yarn by sticking it through a notch and taping it to the back. 

Then continue to pull work the yarn down one side and around the notch on the other side. Above is what your cardboard should look like on the back. Below is what it will look like from the front.
Then you can start weaving your contrasting yarn in and out across the cardboard. You can tape the end or use a plastic yarn needle. Some of my students liked using a needle and others didn't. 

Here is an example of a project my daughter is working on. You can see how the weaving starts to come together. If you run out of yarn simply tie on another length. You can change colors at that point or keep using the same color. 
Here is the weaving up close!
I don't have any pictures of removing the yarn from the cardboard loom but Joel explains it well. You simple bend in your cardboard tabs and the knitting slides off. You can then tighten up the ends and tie it off. 
Here is another student's completed project. I think it would make a darling rug for a doll house or a great coaster for those mugs of hot cocoa. If you make them a little bit bigger, they also make great potholders. 
Have fun!

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving Poems

We have been busy making these gorgeous thanksgiving poems in my elementary school class. I loved the finished product and had to share it with you. The idea for this project came from this great website: Let's Explore

I thought it would be too difficult for me to try to center and type all of the student's poems and so their poems are just handwritten. I think it is fun that their 10 year old script is preserved for the future along with the things that they are thankful for.

Here are the steps that we followed:
1. Use this template to create a thanksgiving poem of your own. Write it out first on a sheet of scrap paper.  Thankful Poem

2. Print out the leaf pattern and cut it out. Maple Leaf Pattern

3. Trace around the leaf with pencil on a piece of white card stock.

4. Copy your poem onto the white card stock, writing as neatly as possible with a black pen.

5. Erase the shape of the maple leaf around the poem.

6. Cut the maple leaf shape out of contact paper. (Make sure the leaf is facing the same direction as your poem on the paper!)

7. Cover the poem with the contact paper leaf.

8. Water color all over your paper. No need to try to stay within the lines. The contact paper will provide a nice sharp edge when you peal it off. It is like magic!!

9. Let dry.

10. Peel off your contact paper and see the masterpiece underneath. Pop it into a frame and display it on your thanksgiving mantel!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Peacemakers in Training

By Deborah Rowley

After you have told the story of the contention monster, you might want to follow up with some peacemaker training. I created these signs to help my children think of some possible solutions to some common problems in our home.

Then I created some word strips and my kids had to match the situation with one of the solutions that they thought would work best. We just lined up the five solutions on the floor and then placed the word strips below the solution we thought would work best.

Here are some examples:
The baby knocks down your block tower and you feel so angry inside.
Mom is frustrated because the kitchen is such a mess.
Dad is grumpy because he has had a hard day at work.
Your brother keeps teasing you and calling you names.
Your sister is crying because some kids made fun of her at school.

In each of these scenarios, we would ask: What would a peacemaker do?
There are no right or wrong answers. More than one peacemaker solution would work for each scenario. I just wanted my kids to think about what a peacemaker would do.

After we had this lesson, I would watch each child for signs of peacemaker behavior. Then I had this chart on the fridge and I would give one child the honor of being the peacemaker of the day. Dad would make a big deal out of this when he came home. It was a great way to recognize kids for doing something right for a change!

Peacemaker Training Signs

Scenario Word Strips Pin It
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