Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A fun twist on acts of kindness, plus a giveaway!

If you are here from Good Things Utah... WELCOME!!  Be sure to check out this fun, local activity to get your family involved in service!  

I think it's pretty obvious that I love acts of kindness, but let's talk about a fun little twist on them.

It's not a new idea, but it might just be an idea that you haven't tried yet... but you should!  Your kids will love it!

Are you ready for it?

Okay, let's get to it.

I'm calling it,

'Sneaky Service'

It's where you and your kids decide to do an act of kindness, but you have to do it in secret... and no matter what you do... Don't Get Caught!!!

You can build it up with your kids (que on the spy glasses... you know the ones with the big noses and a mustache, or even just all black outfits) or you can just wing it.  Whatever you think will work best for your family.

Or, there are some fun books to get you excited.  One of my favorites is Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy, but more on that later...

Here are three ideas how you can do this 'Sneaky Service':

1.  Thank your mailman

Chances are that you have probably seen this idea floating around the internet, but I HAD to add it because of our sweet experience.  (If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably heard part of it.)
My friend, Sheila (from Pennies of Time... check it out, you'll love it!), told me a story about how someone she knew had served someone that worked in their community, and it brought tears to the workers eyes.  I was touched and felt like we needed to do something for someone that worked in our community, too.  I looked for opportunities for a week or two, but I let our busyness get in the way.  One particularly hot day, we heard our sweet mail lady down the street.  We ran inside, wrote a quick thank you card together, and put the card and some cold water in the mail box.

Now here comes the extra fun part.

We went inside and spied on her from the window.  She had no idea we were there, but it was SO fun to see her reaction!  She was truly touched and she even wrote us a quick thank you note back.

It literally took us less than 5 minutes, but it was 5 minutes that will stay with us forever.  My daughter still talks about how we "made the mail lady happy".

Do it.  You'll love it.

2. Give a heart attack

Okay, so I know this is an oldie, but it's a goodie!  This one can be so fun to do with kids of any age.  Just have your kids color or write on hearts, then tape them to someone's door (with painter's tape) in the night.  But, be sure to be so quiet so you don't get caught!

And here's a free printable to make it easy for you.

If you don't want to go the paper heart attack route, use chalk on their driveway.  It will make them smile every time they get home.

3.  The Giving Plate

I saw this idea on Facebook and couldn't help but do it, too!

I got a ceramic plate from the dollar store, wrote on it with a sharpie, baked it at 425 degrees, then let it cool.  (just like the DIY Sharpie Mugs)

It was super easy to do, and will bring lots of people, lots of happiness!

Now here's the 'Sneaky" part... bake a treat with your kids.  Then wait until it gets a little bit dark.  Run up the plate quietly to the porch, ring the doorbell, then run and hide!  Just be sure not to get caught!!!

So, what do you think?  Do you think your kids would like to do these 'Sneaky Acts of Kindness'?

I thought so!

Now, back to that cute book.

My good friend Mandy reached out to me because she found this super cute book about acts of kindness in her Usborne book store. (because she knows I kind of like service) She sent it to me and we have loved it!  It has TONS of ideas for kids to do acts of kindness.  It's cool and quirky.  It also encourages kids to join the "Kindness Club".  It's really cute and would be a fun way to encourage kindness in our kids!

Mandy has even offered to give one of YOU a copy of this book!

You can enter to win this book until August 3, 2015!

So, what are you waiting for?  Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!!  xo

Disclosure: This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment or shipment. I was not compensated to participate in this giveaway.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Books that teach children of any age to say 'Thank You'

I'm such a sucker for children's books!  I feel like they are a fun way to learn new things.

Saying 'thank you' is something that I teach my children as early as possible.  In fact, I teach them how to sign thank you before they can officially even say it verbally.

So, if I can combine those two things, that makes me a happy camper!

Lately I have been looking into books that encourage kids to say thank you, so I thought I would share them with you, too!

Here are a few of my favorites:
(affiliate links below)

Bear Says "Thank You"
by Michael Dahl
Age Range: 0+ years

Please and Thank You!
by Jill Ackerman
Age Range: 0+ years

Disney Sofia the First: Please & Thank You:
Your Guide to Becoming the Perfect Princess!
Age Range: 3 - 6 years

Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book
by Richard Scarry

Age Range: 3 - 7 years

The Please and Thank You Book
by Barbara Shook Hazen
Age Range: 3 - 7 years

The Berenstain Bears: Please and Thank You Book
by Mike Berenstain
Age Range: 3-7 years

Please! Thank You!
by Parragon Books
Age Range: 3-7 years
The Berenstain Bears Say Please and Thank You
by Jan Berenstain
Age Range: 4-8 years

Thank You, Amelia Bedelia
by Peggy Parish
Age Range: 4 - 8 years

Thank You, Mr. Falker
by Patricia Polacco
Age Range: 5 - 8 years

The Thank You Book for Kids
by Ali Lauren Spizman
Age Range: 8 - 12 years

101 Ways to Say Thank You, Kids and Teens
by Kelly Browne
Age Range: 8+ years

I hope you find these helpful!  

Oh, and don't forget to utilize the library for these books!  



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mailing Kindness

(this is a sneak peek into a small part of our Kindness Facebook Party tonight!)

My favorite way to encourage kindness with kids is to start with their interests & ideas/letting them help plan intentional acts of kindness. I love to ask my 5 year old what we should do that day to do something nice for someone. 99% of the time, she says she wants to draw a picture or a card to mail to someone.

We love “mailing kindness” at our house! It’s the perfect activity for us for many reasons. (Paige loves drawing, she is working on handwriting, and what kid doesn’t love mailing things?)

There are TONS of easy & fun ways you can mail kindness. They can be as simple or as complex/crafty as you want them to be. 

Here are some ideas for how to mail kindness:

•Mail something to someone in the military (a thank you card, a letter, a package, etc.)

•Leave a thank you note in the mailbox for your mailman (read our story with this here)

•Send a thank you card to someone who recently did an act of kindness for you or gave you a gift

•Mail a heart attack in a box or in an envelope  (here's a free printable to get you started)

mail a heart attack act of kindness

•Draw a picture to mail to a friend

•Mail a birthday party in a box for someone you know who has a birthday coming up, or for a shelter that can use it  (read about our fun birthday party in a box project here)

Birthday Party in a Box - an act of kindness for children living in a shelter

•Mail a letter (to a grandparent, an aunt, a pen-pal, etc.)

•Send someone a "thinking of you" card just because

•Mail DIY Postcards

•Mail a sunshine box

So, there you have it!  If you're looking for an easy way to do something nice for someone, this is a fantastic way to do that!  

Have you received anything in the mail that just made your day?  Tell me below!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

9 fun ways to serve the elderly with your children

(this post is inspired by the Virtual Kindness Summer Camp)

I know that serving the elderly is talked about a lot, but there is a real need for it! I work a couple of nights a week at an independent living facility and I know how much it means to each of our residents each time someone comes to visit or volunteer.  Most of these people are widowed, and often don't have very many family members that live close by.

Before I get to the ways you can serve them, I want to give you a little extra help...

The first thing you need to think about is who do you know that is older (and I use that term loosely) who could use some help or a boost.  It could be a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even a neighbor.  They don't even have to live close to you for you to serve them (see ideas below).  If you don't know of anyone personally, retirement centers love any help they can get.  

(If you are interested in volunteering at a retirement center, see this post from Pennies of Time.  She has some perfect tips for coordinating it!)

Second, if you are serving with your children, a great way to introduce this topic to them is by reading a book.  There are many great books, but one of my favorites is:

Third, you need to decide the best way to help that person.  If possible, include your child in deciding how.  You can ask them for ideas, or give them a couple of options to pick from.

Now, here are some easy ideas for serving any older person (either living at home or at a retirement center):

1.  Heart Attack
(No, not that kind of heart attack!)
A heart attack, in this case, is where you cut out hearts.  You can write notes of encouragement, love notes, or draw pictures on them.  You can tape them on someone's door (be sure to use tape that won't damage the door).  You can either ring the doorbell and run, or just leave it for them to find it on their door.  You can do this on someone's house, or on their door at a retirement center.  If they live far away, you can put the hearts in a box or an envelope and mail it to them.  Who wouldn't want to receive a box of love in the mail?!

act of kindness idea: heart attack!

2.  Visit or call
It seems like the older we get, the more we appreciate the simple things.  A phone call or a visit is often among one of the most appreciated ways you can help an older person.  I know when my grandma was living in a nursing home, I loved taking my young children to visit.  She wasn't the only person who loved it, all of the other residents and nurses loved seeing them, too!  

3. Mail Kindness
Mail something to someone who could use some cheering up. It can be a postcard, a letter, a picture you drew or took, etc.
Here are some of my favorites we have sent out:

I've sent out a "missing u" card (inspired by this one), to let someone know I have been thinking about them.  I thought it was pretty cute.  Feel free to use these printables to send one yourself!

Missing U card
missing u card

Possibly my favorite card we have sent out was a DIY pressed flower card.  We just picked flowers from our yard, put them in a book (surrounded by paper towels, so they don't stick to the pages).  Let them sit under the pressure of some big books for at least 24 hours, then carefully glue them to the card.  We just used a glue stick and it worked pretty well!  We got a great response to these cards.  They look a lot harder than they really are, and they are pretty and kid friendly!

Act of Kindness Idea: DIY Pressed Flower Cards

Another thing we love to do is to send post cards.  We either search for coloring pages online & print them in postcard size (on cardstock), or just cut out the cardstock & color a picture on one side and put a message and the addresses on the other.  Easy peasy!

Note:  If you are mailing a DIY postcard (they are super easy to make!), it needs to be rectangular. At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long. No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long.  If you cut and/or print your own, just be sure it is on card stock, so it will hold up through the mail system.

4. Ask Questions About Their Life History
If you are visiting them, ask questions about their life.  Even better, write it down!  Think of how valuable that would be to them and their family!
*I have created a simple Life History Q&A that you are welcome to print and use.

5. Use Your Talents
(and your kids’ talents and interests)
This is my secret to getting kids to like serving others (if they are struggling with it).  Incorporating their interests and talents will be so beneficial!  Here are a few examples of talents and how to serve with them.

If you or your children are interested in photography, take pictures of a Senior for free. It won't cost a thing, and chances are, they haven't had their pictures taken in far too long.

Bonus Points: Email them (or their family) the pictures.  No doubt this will be something that is cherished for generations.

(this one is self explanatory)  :)

If you like to draw, draw a picture for them & send it in the mail. Maybe even a portrait of them?
Draw some cheerful pictures and ask if they can be hung at a nursing home, or in the elderly’s home.

serve others with your talents: play an instrument

If your child plays an instrument, they can volunteer at a nursing home to play some songs for the residents

Serve others by your interests: go shopping for them

Or, maybe they need some new clothes.  Or maybe they even just need milk!

Don't feel like you "have a talent"?  Check out this awesome post about how Kimber used her "untraditional" talent in a creative way!  I love it!

6. Volunteer at a retirement center.
If you are interested in volunteering at a senior citizen center, Sheila has some great suggestions for getting in.  When you call, just ask for the Activities Coordinator and use Sheila's tips!
Some fun activities to do at an indepentent living facility, assisted living facility or memory care facility are:

  • Hold a spa/pamper day doing the resident's nails
  • Take thank you for serving our country cards, pictures, or notes to those who have served in the military.  
  • Plan a program… can be magic show, singing, jokes, playing a musical instrument, holding an art stroll, etc.
  • Play games with them.  Some of their favorites are Gin Rummy, BINGO, Bridge and puzzles.

7. Brighten their day with flowers
Pick flowers from your garden to deliver to an elderly person.  It doesn't have to be an extravagent boquet.  Even a simple flower from someone would make anyone's day!

8.  Write notes of encouragement
Write notes of encouragement & slide them under doors at a retirement center.  It's always nice to receive a note of encouragement, even if your life is going smoothly!  It doesn't have to be anything long, it can be an uplifting scripture, quote, or even something simple from your heart.

9.  Volunteer for Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a great organization that delivers meals to those who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals.  There are a few ways you can volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

  • If you are looking for a commitment, you can sign up to drive once a week to deliver the meals.  It only takes an hour a week, and would be so fun to take your children with you!  No doubt the recipients of the meals would love to have a short visit with you and your children!  
  • If you are looking for a more short term commitment, you can have your kids make placemats, cards, pictures or letters for the recipients of the meals.  Just drop them off at your local Meals on Wheels location, and ask them to deliver with the meals.  You can also do this with something like single flowers!  

Once again, I can't tell you enough how much the residents at my work love having any sort of visitors, fun activities, notes, etc.  It really means the world to them!

Don't forget, sometimes it's the simple acts of kindness that mean the most to people!  

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