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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Socially Safe Halloween Masks Craft

Your Halloween celebrations might be physically distanced this year, but wearing a face covering for the festivities doesn’t mean your child has to compromise on a cool costume. Here’s how you can make your child’s face mask part of their trick-or-treating gear. 

 Materials 

  • Non-toxic foam sheets 
  • Washable glue sticks  
  • Hot glue gun 
  • Disposable paper masks 
  • Paper straws 

 Directions 

  1. Talk with your child to decide what kind of mask you should make. The possibilities are endless. If you need a little inspiration, take a look at this video for some ideas!
  2. To create an eye mask, help your child cut out a basic mask shape from a sheet of foam. Cut out foam shapes for your child to glue onto the mask with a glue stick.  
  3. Use the glue gun to attach a paper straw to the side of the eye mask as a handle. Only adults should use the glue gun. 
  4. Cut additional foam pieces to create a mouth for the face covering, and glue them in place with the glue gun.  

Now, your child is ready for a fun and healthy Halloween!  

Are you looking for more safe and spooktacular Halloween ideas? Check out this article on the Goddard School blog featuring some fun activities beyond trick-or-treating! 

Tricks, Treats and Spooky Sweets – 10 Creative Ideas for a Physically Distanced Halloween

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Halloween is going to look a little different this year as we follow physical distancing practices. Though children may not be trick-or-treating in your community, you can try the creative activities below to get your family into the Halloween spirit.  

  1. Mystery Bowls – Set up a spooky sensory experience for your children by filling bowls with cold spaghetti, grapes, gelatin and more. Blindfold your children and have them guess the foods as they feel them. For each correct guess, give your children a treat, such as pieces of candy, stickers or other fun items. 
  2. Monster Footprints – Cut out monster-shaped footprints from construction paper, and lay them out in a path throughout your house or yard. Have your children go on a monster hunt that leads to a special Halloween treat at the end of the path.  
  3. Ghost Toast – This deliciously spooky recipe is perfect for breakfast or a snack. Use a ghost-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a few pieces of bread, coat one side with butter and cinnamon sugar, and then toast them in the oven. Add miniature chocolate chips to make eyes and a mouth as a finishing touch, and enjoy!  
  4. “Boo” Someone – Help your children spread some Halloween fun! Leave an anonymous ghost-shaped note and a treat for your children telling them that they’ve been “boo-ed” with instructions to pass it on and “boo” three other friends or family members. 
  5. Bat Snacks – This Halloween snack is perfect for little fruit bats! Trace a bat-shaped cookie cutter on a piece of black construction paper, cut the bat shapes out and tape them to the end of wooden skewers. Help your children put cut-up fruit pieces onto the skewer, and enjoy the healthy treat. 
  6. Want My Mummy Game – This is a perfect way to get the whole family involved in Halloween fun! Group your household into two teams, and provide each with a roll of toilet paper. When you say go, each team will wrap a team member up like a mummy. The first team to finish the roll and wrap the mummy wins! 
  7. Monster Mash Freeze Dance – For active little ones, you can turn on the Monster Mash and have them freeze in monster poses whenever the music stops. 
  8. Spider Dance Game – This game is great for developing balance, especially in toddlers. Use painter’s tape to create a spider web on the floor, and sprinkle toy spiders in the holes of the web. Let your children walk on the web and pick up as many spiders as they can without losing their balance and stepping off the lines. 
  9. Halloween Car Parade – Try holding this physically distanced alternative to trunk or treat by coordinating with your neighbors and organizing a special Halloween car parade. Decorate your car, dress your children up in their costumes, buckle them in and drive around your neighborhood so everyone can enjoy the festivities. Take it a step further by organizing a contest with a prize for the best-decorated car! 
  10. Halloween Scavenger Hunt – Create a competition among your friends and family with this spooky scavenger hunt. Have your children dress up and take a family walk around the neighborhood as you take pictures or videos to record what you find from this list: 
  • Pretend spider webs 
  • A graveyard scene 
  • A ghost that looks like it’s flying 
  • A decoration that makes noise 
  • A real haystack 
  • A black cat 
  • Two scary skeletons 
  • A witch’s hat or broom 
  • A Halloween treat 
  • Black and orange lights 
  • A funny costume 
  • Two of the same costume 
  • A scary carved pumpkin 
  • A silly carved pumpkin 
  • A strobe light 
  • A pretend bat 
  • A spooky sign 
  • Something sparkly 
  • Three pieces of candy corn 
  • A skull 

Even though the Halloween celebrations will be physically distanced, your children can still have a blast! 

 

10 Ways Families Can Honor Memorial Day This Year

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Children often think about Memorial Day as a time when the family gets together for a barbecue. Parents have an extra day off to play, and some homes have the flag flown in the front yard. It is also a special day to remember and honor those who have fought for the country since the 1800s.

This Memorial Day may be a little different since parades may be canceled and the large family barbecue may be smaller. There are still ways we can share the value of honoring Memorial Day and those who served. Here are ten ideas to mix up the day with your family.

  1. Share the story of why we have Memorial Day. It began in 1866 to honor soldiers from the Civil War and was at first called Decoration Day. People decorated graves with flowers, flags and wreaths. You can make decor at home in red, white and blue and display your decorations inside and outdoors. Have your children plan and make the decorations.
  2. Raise the flag. Fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then at full-staff until sunset. If you don’t have a flag, make one. Your children can count the stars and stripes as they create the family flag.
  3. Share stories. It is often easier to explain a concept like Memorial Day through storytelling. Share your family’s stories or read one of our favorites:
    1. The Wall by Eve Bunting
    2. Hero Dad and Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
    3. The Impossible Patriotism Projectby Linda Skeers
  4. Take an afternoon break. Honor the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time with a moment of peace.
  5. It is the unofficial start of the summer. Plan something fun outdoors, such as a lunch outside or a backyard camp out.
  6. Seven billion hotdogs will be eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wow! Encourage your children to plan the Memorial Day meal. What is necessary to include – ice cream, hotdogs, chicken?
  7. Honor those who are still serving by bringing a little joy into their lives. Create cards, drawings or a care package to be sent overseas to a soldier, marine, airman, sailor or coastguardsman actively serving. Visit the site anysoldier.comto discover how and where to send your special items. You can extend this to your children’s teachers or people who are working in the hospitals.
  8. Sing songs throughout the day. Start the day with “America the Beautiful” and end the day with the national anthem.
  9. Get out the pots and pans, cardboard tubes and other materials that can become instruments. Have a family parade around the house. Video the parade and share with friends.
  10. Connect with a family far away by video chat. Share a favorite recipe, read a story together or sing a song such as the national anthem.

Five Child-Friendly Ways to Ring in the New Year

Pom Pom Popper from The Goddard School on Vimeo.

Celebrating the new year doesn’t have to mean staying up hours past bedtime. These activities are the perfect way to include your little one in the festivities.

  1. Fast Forward

Sticking it out until midnight can be exhausting for parents and children alike. To ensure everyone is awake enough to celebrate, choose a city a few hours ahead of yours and celebrate when it turns midnight there. It might only be 8:00 PM at your house, but it’s midnight somewhere!

  1. Get Glowing

Bring the fireworks inside with glowsticks. Choose a variety of colors and wave, dance and spin around in a darkened room to mimic the effects of fireworks without having to go outside.

  1. A Toast…with Toast!

Sure, you could pour your child a glass of sparkling grape juice for a typical New Year’s toast, but why not start a new, silly tradition? Toast up some bread, cut it into triangles and toast the new year by “clinking” your toast pieces. Your child will be delighted by this literal adaptation, and everyone will enjoy a quick snack.

  1. Reflections and Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to talk with your child about some favorite moments of the past year and plans for the new one. Here are some questions to help get the conversation going:

  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What was the hardest thing you did this year?
  • What was something you learned this year?
  • What is something new that you want to learn to do next year?
  • What do you think next year will be like?

Use your child’s thoughts as a springboard to talk about New Year’s resolutions and discuss some fun goals that your family can work toward together in 2020.

5. Party Pom-Pom Poppers

This quick craft is sure to generate tons of excitement with your child as you ring in the new year together.

What You’ll Need:

  • A paper cup
  • A balloon
  • A rubber band
  • Pom-poms or confetti in your child’s favorite colors
  • Assorted stickers
  • Scissors

What to Do:

  1. Cut out the bottom of the cup while leaving the bottom rim in place. (This step is for adults only!)
  2. Have your child decorate the outside of the cup with the stickers.
  3. Cut the tip off the balloon. Make sure you cut across the balloon’s “fold” to prevent ripping when you stretch it over the cup.
  4. Knot the balloon at its end, and help your child stretch it over the bottom of the cup. Then, put a rubber band around the balloon to hold it in place.
  5. Fill the cup with pom poms or confetti and help your child stretch the knotted portion of the balloon before letting go!

Handprint Wreath Craft

This handprint wreath is a simple craft to get your children’s creativity flowing. You and your little ones can use this craft throughout the year to make a handprint wreath for each holiday season.

Here are the materials that you’ll need: a paper plate, a pack of colored construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, paint and markers.

How to create your wreath

1. First, cut out the middle of the paper plate so you are left with just the rim of the plate. This will act as the base for the wreath.

2. Next, let your children sift through the pack of construction paper and pick out the colors they would like to use for this project.

3. Once their favorite colors are chosen, let them trace about 10 to 15 handprints on the sheets of construction paper, and then help them cut out each handprint.

4. Allow your little ones to be artists: let them color, paint and draw on their handprint cutouts to decorate them.

5. Once they are finished, allow your children to start gluing the handprint cutouts onto the rim of the plate.

6. Let the handprints overlap a bit and continue gluing them on until the entire rim of the plate is completely covered by handprints.

7. When finished, loop a piece of ribbon through the wreath, and then tie a bow at the top.

8. Hang the wreath anywhere in your home.

Winter Scavenger Hunt

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Your local park can be a magical winter wonderland that is perfect for playful learning. Create a scavenger hunt for your family to enjoy while exploring nature. You may decide to separate into teams and see how many items you can each check off before your opponents.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Animal tracks;
  • Hidden berries;
  • Icicles (Only adults should handle icicles. they can be very sharp!);
  • Human footprints;
  • A leaf still on a tree;
  • A tree with no leaves;
  • Something green;
  • A pinecone;
  • A bird;

You can modify your list depending on the ages of the children. Enjoy the endless possibilities!

DIY Snow Dough Recipe

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Help your children bring the snow inside this winter with snow dough. This sensory substance is perfect for modeling snowballs and snow-people, no matter what the weather is like outside your window.

What You’ll Need:

  • A measuring cup
  • A large bowl
  • An airtight container
  • 1 cup of conditioner or lotion (Pick an unscented option if you want to add essential oil for a custom scent.)
  • 2 cups of cornstarch
  • A few drops of your favorite essential oil (This is optional, but peppermint gives the dough a crisp, wintery smell.)

What to Do:

  1. Help your children measure the cornstarch and conditioner or lotion and put them in the bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil (optional). Parents, please do this step for your children.
  3. Have your children mix the ingredients with their hands until well combined. If the mixture seems a little too dry, add more lotion or conditioner; if it’s too moist, add more cornstarch. Play around with amounts until you have a mixture that is neither crumbly nor sticky.
  4. Have your children wash the excess ingredients off their hands. Together, create some winter shapes such as snowflakes, snow-people or snowballs. When you’re finished, store the dough in an airtight container.

Here are some snow-themed books for you and your children to read together:

The Snowbear by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Claire Alexander;

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal;

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats;

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs;

Snow Friends by M. Christina Butler, illustrated by Tina Macnaughton.

5 Easy Activities for Your Family to Practice the Art of Giving

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Sharing and giving are an important part of learning, and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to help your children develop these important skills.

Gift-giving creates a happy feeling not just for the receiver but also for the giver. Children are in fact happier when they give back. Researchers at the University of British Columbia* interacted with children using puppets, which would make ‘YUMM’ noises when given treats. The results indicated that children were happier when giving the treats away than when receiving treats for themselves.

Here are five easy activities for your family to practice the art of giving:

  1. Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving – Make a “Giving Book” with your children. Think of five things they would enjoy doing for someone at home or for a neighbor or a relative. Write or draw the things on three-by-five index cards, decorate the cards and staple them together. Present the “Giving Book” to the relative. This is a gift that keeps on giving and extends the fun beyond the holidays. It also gives your children confidence in the things can they do for someone else.
  1. Build a Plan for Giving – Ask your children how they would like to give back. You may be surprised at what they come up with. Implementing their ideas will help build their confidence and commitment to the activity. Decide together on how to accomplish their ideas.
  1. No Money Needed – It is important to have children experience how to give beyond buying a gift. Donating time and effort is just as important. This will help your children in daily interactions with others. Many foundations have projects that are designed just for kids. Your children could make artwork for a local children’s hospital or help plant trees for a nature reserve. Whatever your child’s passion is, connect it to giving back.
  1. Donate Your Joy – Ask your children to select gently used clothes, toys and other things around their room that they could donate to others. You can choose the charity together. Take your children with you to donate the goods so they can see where they will go. Talk about who might receive them.
  1. Checking In about Feelings After your children spend time giving back, ask them how they feel. Most likely they will have a positive response and want to do it again. Conversations about giving help young children make the connection of that good feeling to giving back.

*Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012, June 14). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLOS ONE 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039211

Five Tried and True Ways to Ease Holiday Stress

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By Kyle Pruett, M.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Do you feel you are overdoing the holidays and beginning to stress out once again this year? Most of us tend to focus on keeping our children and their schedules – especially for the young ones – under some kind of control to limit the damage and hurt feelings that frequently accompany this overdoing. The most effective way to calm holiday stress, however, is to manage our own. Children will learn far more about staying calm when we get there first. Here are some tried and true ways to help you along the way:

  1. Manage your own expectations. Perfect holidays do not exist in real time, so expect some happiness, delight, surprise, disappointment, fatigue and meltdowns. Tell your children to expect the same.
  1. Make a list. Well ahead of time, sit down and make a list of holiday things you’d like to do or achieve, then cut it in half and proceed. One or two special events spread out over two days, with a generous dose of hanging out and “just being” time, is a pretty good pace. Get some sleep with the time you save instead.
  1. Accept help from others. Remember, you have already yielded on perfection as a goal, so let people bring some food and distribute chores for the bigger events. People old and young typically love being useful, even if it adds to the chaos.
  1. Watch the sweets, fats and fermented spirits. Your (and your children’s) tensions can all be exacerbated by lousy dietary indulgences, not to mention the guilt and the weight gain, which only add more stress.
  1. Play outside. Get out of the house and exercise (children and grownups). It helps to repair the damage to routines and relationships by refreshing minds and bodies.

Feeling Thankful Around the World

On Thanksgiving, families across the United States gather together to show their appreciation for all they have by having an abundant feast. But our country isn’t the only one to dedicate a day to give thanks. Nations all over the world celebrate similar holidays with food-based traditions throughout the year.

Here are a few highlights:

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China – Mid-Autumn Festival

While Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, people in China celebrate the harvest with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, usually in September or October. Originally a time to make food offerings in honor of the moon after a good harvest, the holiday is celebrated today by spending time outside with friends and family; watching the moon; and eating traditional dishes, including mooncakes, sticky red-cooked pork belly and stir-fried seasonal green vegetables

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The United States and Canada – Thanksgiving

Beginning as a day of giving thanks for the yearly harvest, Thanksgiving has expanded across the United States and Canada to commemorate family and food. On the fourth Thursday of November (or the second Monday of October if you’re in Canada), families come together to eat dishes like roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. What are your family’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Share them in the comments below.

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Germany – Erntedankfest

In Germany, Thanksgiving, or Erntedankfest, is celebrated on the first Sunday of October. While it began as a time to celebrate the harvest, the holiday now places an emphasis on giving back. Observers of this tradition deliver baskets of food to poor families throughout German communities. While there isn’t as great an emphasis on a big meal as with the American Thanksgiving, families celebrating Erntedankfest enjoy roast goose or turkey as well as Mohnstriezel, a special Austrian sweet bread with poppy seeds.

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Norfolk Island, Australia – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia comes from an American trader who held a traditional Thanksgiving celebration there during his travels in the 1800s. Observed on the last Wednesday of November, Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving meal features some foods that stand out from typical American fare, including cold pork and chicken, pilhi and bananas. One American dish that has stuck, however, is pumpkin pie.

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Korea – Chuseok

Korea’s harvest festival, Chuseok, which is much like American Thanksgiving, spans three days and is celebrated close to the autumnal equinox. Koreans spend time during the holiday visiting their families and sharing a meal complete with songpyeon, which are small rice cakes containing a variety of fillings, including sesame seeds, honey and sweet-red-bean or chestnut paste. The name songpyeon is derived from the Korean word for a pine tree with needles that are used as a base that infuses the dish with the scent of pine when the rice cakes are steaming.