Kick Off Your Summer With a Summer Acts of Kindness Bucket List

This random acts of kindness summer bucket list will get your kids thinking about others this summer! What if our kids’ summer could be magical, without spending countless hours planning activities, summer camps, and outings for them, but because they were spreading kindness!

It was another normal day in the summer. We were off again to one of our fun activities. I told the kids we could get a fun drink while we were out. I went through the drive thru to get our drinks because the kids were at each other’s throat fighting about everything and I was in a hurry.

As I got to the checkout window the lady informed me that the person in front of me paid for our drinks.
We were all in awe! I wanted to cry not because we didn’t have the money to pay for it ourselves. It was the mere act of someone taking the time to show us kindness.

At that moment something clicked.

We forgot about, “I’m bored. My brother hit me. Do we have to go the museum again?” We knew we wanted to do the same for others this summer.

I knew I needed to give my kids opportunities to give back.

A summer of “give me, give me” or “What are you planning for us so we are not bored? What activities are we doing today?” only plants seeds of entitlement.

I want them to see someone’s face light up like ours did when we received this a random act of kindness. I want them to know that they can change the world one person at a time by being kind.

You Can Still Have Family Vacations

There’s nothing wrong with day camps, summer activities or family vacations!

We still go on family vacations but we sprinkle our summer with random acts of kindness so that our kids have the opportunity to share some of their own magical kindness with others.

The acts of kindness give them an opportunity to say thank you in their own little way.

Try it At Home!

Try it! The acts of kindness aren’t just aimed at strangers. You can practice this within your family. For example, a sibling can use their allowance money to take another one out for Culver’s frozen custard. I highly recommend you try the Blackberry Cobbler fresh frozen custard it was amazing! It’s creamy, cool and delicious!

Or you can write a coupon for your sibling that says, “Good for one free cool treat at your favorite restaurant!”

You’ll be amazed at what your children will discover about others and the world around them when they are serving and giving of themselves through acts of kindness.

Here are our summer random acts of kindness bucket list to inspire you to share the magic of kindness this summer.

Summer Acts of Kindness Bucket List

  1. Leave an encouraging note inside a library book for someone to find.
  2. Make fun bookmarks and leave them inside books at your local library.
  3. Go on a walk in your neighborhood or park and pick up trash along the way.
  4. Write a letter to your sibling and let them know why you’re thankful for them.
  5. Offer to wash your neighbor’s car.
  6. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  7. Make homeless kits and keep them in the car to give away.
  8. Hold the door for the person behind you at public places today.
  9. Smile and say hello to your cashier.
  10. Treat a stranger to an ice cream.
  11. Donate gently used clothes or toys to a charity.
  12. Leave “kind words” chalk messages on your neighborhood sidewalk or at the park.
  13. Hand out cold drinks to your community helpers like the mailman, collectors of trash…
  14. Do a chore for your sibling without them knowing.
  15. Choose to be thankful all day!
  16. Find a kid’s club or daycare where you can read to their children during quiet time.
  17. Donate gently used books to a daycare center in need.
  18. Give out compliments today!
  19. Make a treat for a friend or neighbor.
  20. Tape change to a parking meter
  21. Help your family make dinner.
  22. Tell someone how much you appreciate them today.
  23. Treat your sibling or friend to Culver’s custard!
  24. Volunteer to read at a nursing home.
  25. Teach someone something!

Great Valentine’s Day Activities to Focus on God’s Love with Your Kids

Over 8 Great Activities to Focus on God’s Love with Your Kids on Valentine’s Day

 

Valentine’s Day is big at our house for lots of reasons but this is what got me motivated.

He came into the dining room and declared that he didn’t want to do anything for Valentine’s Day at his school because he doesn’t love any girls at school.

Girls are yucky! he exclaimed.

He was only 5 at that time, but I knew then– we NEEDED to teach our boys that Valentine’s day is more than what the media, peers, the world says it is. Mind you, my husband and I do celebrate V-day and our kids know it because we usually plan something special for each other, but it’s so much more than celebrating romantic love interests.

So, this was my opportunity to teach them about all the things I love–serving, kindness and God’s love in us and overflowing from us. We are going on 8 years of celebrating Valentine’s Day by sharing His love and serving each other and those in our community.

Great Valentine’s Day Activities to Focus on God’s Love with Your Kids

  1. Love Coupons for the Family! Before you begin, start by reading and discussing the verses in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. Talk about the meaning of “love”. You can discuss how we are not always patient, kind… but He helps us. Sometimes we have to come to Him daily–when a sibling aggravates us or a child is whining and we are anything but patient. It’s in this constant yielding that He gives us the strength and love that we need.
    With this activity talk about how Jesus came to serve others and made daily deliberate choices to display God’s love to us. Then tell your children you’re going to make Acts of Love Coupons for each other. The coupons are a fun way we could love each other in practical ways. When my kids were little we would help them write things down on their coupons. We always manage to come up with some creative ideas like–a massage (using their cars), clearing the table, video game challenge, ice cream sundae night… check out the list of ideas here.
  2. Heart Attack! activity! This is a family favorite! Before you enjoy the “Heart Attack Activity” talk about the verse in Joshua 24:15. Then discuss how when we serve others we also serve God. When we choose to serve God, we start a chain reaction of events in our home, community and the world. By serving God, we also serve others. Then enjoy the “Heart Attack Activity” and print this out HERE or the family version HERE.
    Some years ago we “Heart Attacked” a few teachers! We gave some teachers at my son’s school a basket of goodies and shared this heart attack idea with them in hopes that they would pass it on.
  3. You can also “Heart Attack” each other as a family that has been a lot of fun. Basically, you cut out tons of hearts and write on each heart something you love about that person. Each family member writes 2 things for each person in the family. Make sure to go to the link above for the complete instructions. What has made this extra special is that you’re not the only one writing the love notes but everyone in the family is writing each other encouraging words.
  4. Rings of Love. Talk about the verse in 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” Discuss what LOVE means and how it starts with God. When we love others we are actually loving God. Draw 5 rings on a sheet of paper and write in each one–God, Family, Friends, Community (neighbors, church, community centers) and World. This is our “Rings of Love” circle. Then fill a bucket of water and drop a marble in it and watch the ripples move across the water. Explain how when we do acts of kindness we show others love and that creates a chain reaction that affects others. This one little action affects the whole pool of water. That’s just how it is with love. Everything we do as we serve God has an impact on our world one person at a time.

    4. Service Activities: Things we have done to serve others have been: Bought roses and gave them to the ladies on the street that are homeless or selling things.
    -One year we painted “Love Rocks”, wrote a message “Jesus Loves You!” on the back and then passed placed them in the park, neighborhood and local hospital.
    -We have also passed out heart crayons and called it our “Broken Crayons Still Color Project” because we recycled broken crayons and made hearts out of them (as shown in the picture above). It brought such joy to us to pass out the crayons with coloring books to kids on the street. -Another year we passed out Happy Meals to kids using the money our children had saved up from our Save, Give, Spend system.
    5. Movie Night that focuses on Love -Before you start, discuss God’s great love for us. Read 1 John 3:1. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” And that is what we are! Explain how in the movie you’re about to watch you will see threads of how God loves. I really like The Prince of Egypt it’s such a powerful story that depicts His love.  The Princess Bride depicts love and the lengths one goes to for the sake of love, which can also be tied back to God’s love for us. Beauty and the Beast is another good family movie for Valentine’s day where we can interweave His love for us even in our weaknesses.
    6. The story of St. Valentine. I love throwing in some history and Jesus into our holidays. Enjoy a heart snack and discuss the story behind St. Valentine. Before you begin read and discuss the verse in 1 John 3:16 and John 15:13–“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Then explain how His love is sacrificial and never-ending (Romans 8:37). Here is a short excerpt of St. Valentine’s story: “But a simple Christian priest named Valentine did come forward and stood up for love. He began to secretly marry soldiers before they went off to war, despite the emperor’s orders. In 269 A.D., Emperor Claudius found out about the secret ceremonies. He had Valentine thrown into prison and deemed that he would be put to death. As Valentine was awaiting execution, he fell in love with a blind girl who happened to be the jailer’s daughter. On the eve of his execution, with no writing instruments available, Valentine is said to have written her a sonnet in ink that he squeezed from violets. Legend has it that his words made the blind woman see again. It was a brief romance because the next day Valentine was clubbed to death by Roman executioners.” You can go here for the full explanation and then paraphrase it to your child’s level of understanding and maturity. In St. Valentine’s story you can also see examples of God’s sacrificial love for us.
    You can discuss the history of St. Valentine over your dinner or one year we also did a Valentine’s Day Cafe which was super simple to put together for our family.
    7. Share the Love! Here we want to encourage our family to love on others, neighbors, and friends with the ways the Lord has gifted us. Discuss Romans 12:4-6  Discuss how there are so many ways to love one another and one of them is by using the gifts God has given us. Ask your family–Who do they serve in their life? The Bible says he has given us special talents so we can serve others. Read the verse again and then ask, “What gifts do you have that you can use to serve others?” Together come up with tangible ways that your kids can use their gifts to serve someone in their community or world.
    For example, a simple and tangible way is to write an encouraging note to a missionary and/or someone serving their country. Or you can write to their family member who stayed behind and let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to let them go serve God on the mission field.  You can make cookies and pass them out to homeless people or your neighbors. These 15 n0 bake neighborly ideas might inspire you. As God’s children, we are called to walk in love–Ephesians 5:1.
    As a family, we try to make Valentine’s day cards or treats so we can give them out to friends and neighbors to remind them of God’s love. Here are some fun ones: Non-Candy Valentine Idea, Slime for my Valentine,
    8. Pop! Activity –Everything we do, do in Love!  Look up verses that talk about God’s love and then write them down on a slip of paper. Here are a few verses: 1 John 4:7-12, Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 13: 4-8, Ephesians 5:1. Place each verse inside a balloon and have the kids pop the balloon. Have them one at a time, read out loud what each verse says.  If your child doesn’t like things that pop then place the verse outside the balloon. End with reading the verse in 1 Corinthians 16:14 and have them put it into practice–do a chore around the house that would help someone. Here’s a free printable to go with that verse.
    9. Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt – Another Family favorite! Hide scripture hearts around the house and enjoy this fun Valentine’s Day treat with the kids. You can also attach the scripture hearts to balloons as we did here.
    10. Here are some extra ideas! This is for your spouse–Scripture Love Notes
    11. Fun meal!
    I have heard of families that go all out and do a fun meal with dressing up and fancy food but we usually have an extra special meal without the dressing up. Sometimes it’s a fun dessert and we have fondue.
    12. Heart Attack! Nerf Gun style – Set up two forts which are areas with targets (use cans or plastic bottles) one on each side of the room and the goal is to try to knock down as many cans or plastic bottles with the nerf guns. I like to add heart stickies to the ends of the bullets just for fun. Divide into two teams and each team’s goal is to protect and shoot. Protect their bottles from getting knocked down and shoot the others bottles down. Rules are simple you can’t stand in front of your bottles to protect them nor right in front of theirs to shoot it. You have to be constantly moving.
    13. Love Rocks! Paint rocks and right a message of God’s love on the rocks. It can be as simple as “God loves you!” and place them around your community to encourage someone. We have placed ours in parks, around water fountains, near restaurant doors, on the ground near a mailbox, in hospital waiting areas, bathroom sink, and napkin areas…

Now It’s Your Turn

Share with me in the comments below what you do to take this commercialized holiday and turn it into a lesson of your values and faith.

Here are 24+ Ideas on How to Explore Your City With Kids

Start off the year right with an “Adventurous Year” Challenge- 12 Months of Exploring Your City! I encourage you to enjoy a staycation and explore your local establishments and discover the history and culture in your area.

When we first arrived to our host country we did not do very much exploring on our own. We arrive with a baby and a toddler  in tow. All of the horror stories we had heard of people getting robbed, killed and what not–paralyzed us. I think at the time it was just easy to let our new friends and family show us around because they had a vehicle, so we let them.

I’m an adventurous soul so I was bursting at the seams to explore on my own. My husband worked during the day so it was either figure it out on my own or only go out on weekends. So I began walking to the store by myself. Then I started taking the taxi my own. It was scary at first but then we got the hang of it. The extent of our exploring was nothing adventurous, it was mostly to the grocery store and market because we were still trying to acquire the basics for our new home. But then we moved on to riding the trolley which is quite a cultural experience in itself. So baby step your way if you’re feeling a bit cautious

So I encourage all of you, to go out and explore!  Don’t let all of those horror stories paralyze you from enjoying the city you live in. There are some places you should never explore for safety reasons and you should definitely consider the advice given to you so figure out what those are and stay away from those but for the rest of the city–explore it!

An Adventurous Year Challenge- 12 Months of Exploring Your City

In the 9 years we have lived here I’ve been surprised how many expats have left this amazing country without exploring it the least bit.

But I say, “No more!” to that nonsense.

Decide today to take risks and get out of your comfort zone so you can explore your very own city and if you’re feeling extra adventurous explore your state or country.

I set us the challenge of finding something extraordinary to do each month for the entire year. Something fun. Something adventurous. Something delicious or out of the ordinary. Something magical. ~Lisa Mckay

How to start!

Think of yourself as a tourist. Remember to stay flexible and enjoy the adventure. Be a smart traveler. Think creatively.

  1. Sit down and make a bucket list. If you have kids and they are old enough to contribute include them in this activity. If you’re not familiar with the area get online and start looking at places become a tourist in your own country.
  2. Then pull out your 2017 calendar and write down where you’re going for the next 12 months. So next to February write down–Farmer’s market if you’ve never been there and need to baby step your way into this. I highly recommend to pencil in a day and change it if need be but get it in on that calendar.
  3. Write down some mantras to help you through this if you’re feeling a bit out of your comfort zone.
  4. As you get closer to each outing start researching it and if need be change the location but don’t skip the outing.
  5. You can make one of them a night away in your local city as a special outing.

Become a tourist in your own city. Take your identification card, snacks (just in case you get lost), camera, sunscreen and water. Have a staycation!

 

There will always be a reason or excuse for not getting out and exploring. Especially for those of you who are home bodies but get out and make memories with your family. Make memories for yourself even the negative experiences from these outings shape us and refine us. I won’t make any unrealistic promises though you will get lost, you will get flustered, you will have moments of stress but you would experience the same things, even if you were in your very own home. Well maybe not the get lost part.

24 Things You Can Do In Your City

  • Visit a local museum. Look it up online and find out if they have a day that it’s open to the public for free.
  • Enjoy the arts in your town. Go online and look up where there’s a local festival, play and concert. Many times you’ll find lots of free things to do.
  • Go to your local farmers market. That’s always a great way to discover what your neighbors are growing and cultivating in your very own city.
  • Go visit a community park you have not gone to before and explore. Here in Ecuador we discovered one of the local parks has wild llamas running around and we love going there just for that reason.
  • Try geocaching. My husband got into this hobby with my boys and this opened up new places we had not discovered before.
  • Visit the zoo.

  • Go camping. Yes, you can even go camping in your own backyard which is still exploring because you’re able to discover all the night sounds of your community that you had not noticed before.
  • Go bike riding. It’s a totally different experience to explore an area with a  bike. I highly recommend it. If you don’t own a bike you can always borrow one or rent one for the day.
  • Walk around your neighborhood and or surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Explore your cities botanical gardens.

  • Go hiking to your nearest national park.
  • Go to the beach or pool. We don’t live a beach so it’s always fun for our kids to pay a nearby hotel to use their pool for the day.
  • Take public transportation.
  • Go horseback riding.
  • Take a class. There’s always something you can learn and even if there aren’t any organized classes you can ask a local. That’s where getting out and about in your community helps. I once asked a lady from the market to teach me how she cooked that and she was more than happy to do this for me.
  • Go down and have tea or ice cream at your local cafe.
  • Try making a recipe thats from your area.
  • Check into a hotel for the night and enjoy the night away in your own city.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Enjoy an activity you would normally do like golfing or wall climbing.
  • Have a progressive dinner at restaurants in your new home town.

  • Explore a non-profit organization and volunteer for the day.
  • Take a tour of a local farm, restaurant… Many places offer official tours but if they don’t it wouldn’t hurt to offer to pay a fee for a tour of their establishment.
  • Do a park-hop. Where you visit 3 different parks in one day or back to back during the weekend.
  • Have a scavenger hunt. When my little guy was 4 we went around town and enjoyed an ABC Picture Scavenger Hunt around our city. Later I turned into a photo book for him.

You don’t need to go on a fancy vacation to have fun with your family. We’ve enjoyed both exploring our town and city but also going beyond that and exploring the country. All of the memories we’ve made from our exploring this country have bonded our family in such a neat way that I can’t imagine not having those experiences in our life.

 

These experiences shape our stories and build memories for a lifetime. We’ve skipped through the amazon jungle, hiked up volcanoes, swung across the tropical rain forest on a wire, swam with penguins, played with sea lions, lived with indigenous indians, held monkeys and snakes and have eaten jungle ants… all because we decided to become students of this beautiful place we call home.

I got this idea from Lisa McKay and she goes on to say,

I declared a “year of awesome” because in some ways it felt like we were paddling hard just to keep our heads above water, and it had felt that way for a long time. Because, with everything on our plates and two kids under five who have been terrible sleepers for most of their lives, it was easy not to stretch to create moments and outings and days that are memorable for lovely reasons…We’re four months into the year of awesome now. We’ve been out on a glass-bottom-boat, journeyed out to islands, snorkeled over bright coral, celebrated our birthdays with champagne, and gone camping on the beach with baby turtles. So far, so good.”

How to Help Your Kids Give Back with This Fun Christmas Activity

How to Help Your Kids Give Back with This Fun Christmas Activity! I share below this fun tradition we do each year as a family.

Help Your Kids Give Back with This Fun Christmas Activity

We took the challenge of decluttering for charity years ago when they were little. Honestly, though I must say it hasn’t always been easy. Even in light of all the giving and serving we do, it’s hard for our kids to part with their toys.

But just because something is hard doesn’t mean we don’t do it.

You’ll probably think they are not ready to for this when you see them having a meltdown. But if you don’t start now you’ll find it gets harder as they get older. Believe me I know lots of grown adults who struggle with sharing.

In light of the challenges and meltdowns we have had I’m still plugging along guiding and encouraging our kids. So I came up with this fun activity in hopes it helps them.

The Operation Spread Christmas Joy activity is a fun way for kids to get into the spirit of giving. Below is the link for the FREE printables.

I’m happy to report it worked! It really did work!

Help Your Kids Give Back with This Fun Christmas Activity

How to Help Your Kids Give Back with This Fun Christmas Activity

Hopefully the incentive that gifts are coming will help motivate them to get rid of their unused toys.

  1. Explain to your child it’s time to declutter the toys and stuff in the house.
  2. Let them know you are going to make room for new ones.
  3. All the gently used toys they don’t use or need anymore will be placed in sack or bag that you labeled “Spread Christmas Joy” or “Santa’s Little Helpers” sack.
  4. Then donate it to your local charity or kids in need.

I do want to emphasize as the poem says, “trash the broken toys”. I have to remind my kids of this each year. The toys that are falling apart need to be thrown away NOT given away. I share here “How to Give to the Poor” tips that were put together by the many people who are on the other end of giving the toys you send.

operation-charity

 

I’m sharing with you two printables! The content is the same but I made one for those who don’t do Santa. Just click HERE for your 2 free printables.

Make Your Own Easy Reindeer Cookies From Gingerbread Men

Would you believe me if I told you that The Secret to Christmas Joy is Found in Cookies?  Well, keep reading to find out what I mean.

reindeer-cookies

One of our family Christmas traditions is our Christmas ADVENTures and each day we have scripture reading, a Christmas carol and an optional activity. Throughout our advent days there are lots cultivating compassion activities to do as a family.

Christmas lights are not only beautifully adorned around homes and Christmas trees around this time of the year but they also serve as symbolic reminder that He is the light and we can also be light. One way we can shine light into peoples darkness is with acts of kindness.

family-baking

One of activities we enjoy doing together as a family during this time of the year  is making Christmas treats to give to our neighbors, community helpers and teachers. One year we kept a basket in our car with homemade cookie treats and we gave them out to the street kids as we drove around running errands. You don’t even have to make them homemade. I love adding icing to store bought cookies and bars to personalize them.

christmas-cookie-book

I recently came across this book called The Legend of the Christmas Cookie by Dandy Daley Mackall when looking for a new Christmas book to add to our Christmas collection.  The Legend of the Christmas Cookie tells the story of a young boy named Jack who learns from his generous mother the story behind the Christmas cookie. The family who began the tradition of baking the special cookies gave them to the needy and shared the story of the very first Christmas. This sweet holiday book offers inspiration for readers to become cheerful givers themselves and encourages them to share the true tale of Jesus’ birth. A delicious recipe is included on the jacket flap so readers can make their own Christmas sugar cookies.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” —Kahlil Gibran

10-days-of-christ-focused-kids-activities

10 days of Christ focused Christmas Activities Inspired by Books Blog hop starts today! We have all sorts of fun activities, recipes and family fun that are inspired by a Children’s Christmas book that share the real meaning of Christmas! Make sure to follow along on Facebook, you can take a look at the schedule over at Inspired by Familia blog. Here are our fabulous bloggers: Inspired by Family, Meaningful Mama, Teaching Mama, Beautiful Messy Motherhood, Happy Home Fairy, Simple home Blessings, The Chaos and the Clutter, Creative Family Fun, True Aim Education and Sunshine Whispers!

gingerbread-men-cookies

Make Your Own Easy Reindeer Cookies From Gingerbread Men

First, you’ll turn your gingerbread man upside down and that’s how you get antlers from the feet of the gingerbread man.

reindeer-cookies-from-gingerbread-men-2

Then use your icing to decorate the face. Make sure your eyes are around the mid section of the body b/c the gingerbreads actual head will be where you place the nose and mouth.

Pack them up in cute little baggies and pass them out to your neighbors, community helpers like mailman, garbage collectors. Place a basket in your car and pass them out to the homeless with a milk or juice.  Once year our family hosted a Christmas Cookie Exchange with a Twist and instead of taking the cookies for ourselves that were exchanged we each took them to pass them out the homeless.

Follow along this week to see the fabulous ideas from our super star bloggers! 10 bloggers, 10 books and 10 days of Christmas Activities inspired by children books that are faith based.

christmas-blog-hop-image

December 5th
Day 1 Inspired by Family-The Legend of the Christmas Cookie book & Easy Reindeer Cookies
December 6th
Day 2 Teaching Mama  The Legend of the Candy Cane book & Easy & Cute Candy Cane ornament 
December 7th
Day 3 Beautiful Messy Motherhood A Carol for Christmas book & Write Your Own Christmas Carol Idea
Day 4 Meaningful Mama The Crippled Lamb book & Handprint Nativity Craft
December 8th
Day 5 Happy Home Fairy -M is for Manger book & another lovely and different (from the one above) Nativity Handprint Craft
Day 6 Simple home Blessings Who is Coming to Our House book & Christmas Garland craft
December 9th
Day 7 The Chaos and the Clutter I Spy Christmas book & I Spy Christmas Sensory Bag
Day 8 Creative Family Fun   The Birds of Bethlehem Book & Felt Birds Craft for Kids
December 10th
Day 9 True Aim Education The book of Character & Neighbor Kindness Activity
Day 10 Sunshine Whispers The Sparkle Box book & Sparkle Box Gift Jar Activity

Looking for more favorite Christ-focused Children’s Christmas books?

Easy Manger Craft for Kids with free printable inspired by Mortimer’s Christmas Manger book

Easy Santa Christmas Ornament inspired by Santa’s Favorite Story book

Nativity Craft from Toilet Paper Tubes inspired by Itsy Bitsy Christmas book