Send children's art to Color-a-Smile instead of the recycle bin! This wonderful, nonprofit organization accepts all standard-sized kids drawings and sends them on to nursing homes, meals-on-wheels recipients, hospitals, and other individuals in need of a smile.
After more than a dozen years empowering parents to raise caring kids, Doing Good Together is seeing more compassion than ever in the lives of the families we reach. All over the country, we're hearing from families excited by the impact our resources are having. This week we offer a few simple ways you can help us celebrate!
Give your child loving, fun experiences sharing kindness, and you'll teach most important lesson of all: Kindness isn't an act, it's a lifestyle.
Thinking through your responses before discipline is required is a common theme in all of these books and was key to my family's successful management of our behavioral low point (to date). Pick one, read it, and feel that much more prepared next time you face a parenting challenge that threatens to trigger an explosion.
Try these 2 projects and see what a difference listening makes.
Parents worry that teaching kindness will leave their kids too vulnerable, too unprepared for the "real world." But the real world needs big-hearted kids and parents alike, now more than ever! Here are some stories that prove, big-hearted really is brilliant.
It's that time of year again. My family, like so many of yours, is once again engulfed in all of the excitement, nervous planning, and - yes- shopping that goes along with a new class schedule. If' you're looking for big-hearted conversation starters, book ideas, and really great tips to add a "giving" aspect to your back-to-school rituals check out the Doing Good Together newsletter.
My family has been enjoying the book Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, which is this month's book club pick for Big-Hearted Families.
Those Shoes is exactly the type of story we hunt for here at Big-Hearted Families. It is a book full of thought-provoking ideas and real-life challenges. It’s also a beautifully written, heart-warming story that your family will want to pick up again and again.
My five-year-old has been asking for it at every story time lately.
This little book is packed with important ideas, such as:
> Recognizing the difference between what we want and what we need is not always easy, for kids or adults.
> We all have something valuable to give, no matter how much or how little we have.
> Being generous is rewarding, but it can also be difficult.
There are still a few copies available over at our shop, if you want to bring this wonderful book - along with the recipe and activity - home for your family.
I found the clothing drive particularly helpful. Not only did the story and the conversation inspire my girls to clear out the clutter of beautiful but rarely worn clothes in the back of their closet, but it got them talking to their friends about "gently worn" or even new donations.
We'll be making our drop off on Monday -three large bags full of barely worn children's clothes and shoes.
Plus, as we school shop for ourselves, we're working hard to identify "need" versus "want," in an effort to avoid cluttering up the closets once again with more than we can wear. Thankfully, my girls are young enough that they are as unconcerned as I am by brands and trends, so coveting the latest pair of .... whatever is trendy this fall... won't be a hurdle for us. I am hopeful that folding "giving" aspects into our back-to-school rituals will help make future years a little easier to manage, even after they become more socially aware.
How are you making back-to-school season a time of giving and reflection with your family?
Given a chance, children are so universally, so naturally inspired by the natural world. It's no wonder that the list of beautiful children's books about nature is miles long. Nurturing this love of nature inspires all of us to take better care of the wild spaces and natural resources around us. Here is a short list of wonderful stories to inspire you to get outside.
Plus, here are a few conversation starters to get your family thinking after the story:
- Name three things that you love to do outside?
- Where are your favorite outdoor spaces?
- Are their any outdoor adventures you hope to have some time in the future?
- What creature do you wish you could see in the wild?
- What can your family do to help take care of your favorite natural areas?
Parents may consider reading the New York Times best selling book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.
Canoe Days by Gary Paulsen. Enjoy the peace and pleasure of a summer day in this poetic, beautifully illustrated, and fully transportable canoe trip.When you are done meeting the animals and insects in Paulsen's story, jam out with the Okee Dokee Brothers song "Can you Canoe."
Fairy House by Tracy Kane. Bring the joy of imaginative play to your outdoor experiences with this wonderful story. Join Kristin as she builds a fairy house in the woods, and follow her dream-like adventures with the fairies. Then build your own fairy houses using the instructions in the book, and adding to them with your own imagination and natural treasures. It's a great alternative to screen time!
The Raft by Jim LaMarche. Follow along with Nicky's adventure in the Wisconsin woods. Nicky's summer with his raft, and his grandmother, opens him up to the natural world as well as his own artistic inclinations. The tone and the illustrations pull you in to this mesmerizing tale.
Fire Flies! by Juilie Brinkloe. Discover the magic of fireflies on a summer night, and learn to respect the freedom wild things deserve. This is a perfect companion for a summer camping trip, along with a bug net!
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Cool down a hot summer day with this wintry tale. With few words and magical illustrations, this book places you in the chilled quiet of a winter night and the magical intimacy with nature that's possible in this quiet world.
For the first time, we're unable to post all of the book club materials for free. But don't worry, if The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is high on your list of favorites, we still have a few copies available. Click here to order. The Story of Ferdinand is a classic. The story is simply told, but it offers a great deal to talk about. Ferdinand is a bull who has the confidence to stay true to himself in spite of incessant poking and prodding from others. He teaches us all to discover what truly makes us happy, and to pursue that happiness even if it seems odd or unexpected to the rest of the world.
This month, share this classic story with your family, along with a simple craft project that will have you talking about the places and practices that bring peace to your life. The recipe, a wonderful Mango Cucumber Gazpacho, will sweep you into the Spanish milieu of Ferdinand, while introducing you to cool, new summer flavors.
Over the past seven months, my own family has served as the guinea pig for all the many different book club collections we've offered so far. My kids (at least, the 5 and 8 year olds) have begun to ask when they get to have the next book club night. They have invited neighbors and friends to participate in some of the activities. And they have begun to approach almost any book as a conversation starter; almost any activity as something they can turn into a gift or act of kindness.
Their enthusiasm makes makes it so much fun to gather fresh book titles for the 2014 list!
Then we received this feedback from one of our wonderful big-hearted families. Jennifer wrote:
This is such a great idea! I got the 3-month subscription for my family &we've enjoyed it so much I just ordered 2 more subscriptions as birthday gifts for my nieces. My kids are 5, 7, and 9 - they have all enjoyed the books so far and they can all relate to the discussion questions in their own way. Love it!
How fantastic to know the big hearted families book club has helped create meaningful, joyful family time for others!
I'm sorry we will no longer be able to offer all of the book club materials for free, but I do hope you'll consider becoming a subscriber.
And in the meantime, look back on the first 6 months and pick up any months you may have missed!