Wearing masks out in public to protect each other’s health is the ultimate way of showing how much you care about each other. If you want to take that symbol to the next level how about getting matching masks or even his and her masks?
Tell them it’s President Young calling.
Setting up President for a Day
- Planning for this day can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like and can involve other family members participation.
- When you decide which day will work for the family you’ll simply say to your child, “Congratulations, the country has elected you President!” Then tell them which day will be inauguration day.
- The advantage to telling your child in advance about their special day is that there will be many opportunities for you to explain what the duties and responsibilities of the president are and give them the time to think and make the most out of their day in charge. They will be so excited by the time Inauguration Day rolls around!
- As Chief of Staff you will guide the President’s schedule.
- Assign other family members (both in and out of the house) the roles of Secret Service (perhaps the most fun job), Speaker of the House, Foreign Heads of State…there are plenty of jobs to go around and everyone in the family can get involved. It is very important that’s anyone who speaks to your child refers to them as Madam President or Mr. President at all times.
- The day’s agenda can include all sorts of challenging decisions, compromises and emergencies. Your child can interact remotely with the Leader of the House, Foreign Heads of State and even call an emergency meeting of the Subcommittee of Ice Cream Sundae Consumption.
- As their trusted advisor you can present them with a budget at the beginning of the day that will ensure that presidential requests don’t get out of hand. They can choose their own agenda and will have to set priorities that fit within the budget.
- Set up a scenario in which the President will need to convene the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader to discuss a new proposal and the need to reallocate funds. For instance, the plan for dinner falls through and the President must get approval from Congress to finalize what dinner will be.
Helping your kids understand how government works:
Understanding how government works is a daunting task even for adults and as great as our teacher’s are, it’s not the most exciting subject matter when you’re a kid.
Find fun ways to use the holiday to help kids understand how government works and the best way is to start at the local level. There are board games to help make this fun (we know….talking politics is about as fun as watching the news) but the earlier your kids get it, the better citizens they’ll be and they just might pick up some strategies to help them as they navigate this thing called life.
If you see a crew filling a pot hole, point out how that gets done through the city government. Explain how they Mayor sets the goals and works with the City Council to make them happen.
Ask your kids what they would do if they were mayor, governor or president? What things do they think elected officials could focus on to make your town better? Hold a mock election for your family and have older kids put together platforms for an imaginary campaign complete with banners and slogans. They can even write a stump speech!
Looking at politics as they’re intended to work:
- The small part of your town elects someone to be their City representative. That person’s job is to make decisions that will help the people on your street and your part of town. That includes fixing roads, bringing in new stores and businesses and generally helping to make life better for everyone. All of the districts of your town elect their own representative and all of those people make up the City Council.
- The town also votes to elect one person who will work with the City Council to make decisions for the city as a whole…the Mayor.
- Now, each member of the city government has a goal for their part of town. And one goal may not work well with another districts goals. That’s when politics start to work.
- All of those people with different ideas and projects have to come together and make compromises and strategies that ultimately help the city as a whole. If one street needs a pothole filled, the representative of that street has to make sure that there is money and resources put into the overall city’s budget to make that happen. The representatives listen to the people in their districts and work with their fellow representatives to get things done.
Starting small and local will help your kids apply that same thinking and structure to state government and national government….it all works the same, just the districts get bigger and bigger as you move up through the different levels.
The biggest takeaway for explaining politics to kids boils down to compromising. Being able to work through conflict with their friends and siblings in a constructive way now will develop skills that will serve them well as they enter the workforce in the future (and it just might help stop a few fights along the way).
Make a game out of explaining compromise and lead by example. When your kid is wanting something that doesn’t fit into your plan, compromise with them and show them the art of give-and-take. If you really want to win home-educator of the year, bring this game into your world.
A great tie-in is through some of the video games that require you to build homes, towns and a community! Tie in the connection between those games and the similarities with real world politics.
The purpose of Memorial Day is often overshadowed as the holiday has transitioned into the official kickoff of summer. Of course, most take time to post a thankful sentiment online or use the day to remember family members who have passed, but why not do something a little different this year?
Talk to the Men and Women who have served and continue to protect our great nation about what Memorial Day means to them. You can set it up with your kids and practice physical distancing by scheduling your call on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or any other audio call app.
If you don’t have someone in your family, we’d be willing to bet that there are several service members in your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. You can also reach out to local Veterans organizations to find out about volunteering opportunities.
Put together Interview style questions to kick off the conversation:
- Why did you join?
- What was your job?
- How long did you serve?
- What countries were you in?
- What’s your favorite memory?
- If they’re retired or have finished their duty….what was it like when you got out?
A few starter questions will be all you need to get the conversation rolling and before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful story that will help add some perspective this Memorial Day.
After your chat, talk to the kids about what they learned.
- What were their takeaways and impressions?
- For older kids, talk about the idea of service to your country and what that means.
- Encourage them to write their thoughts down while they’re fresh. They can draw a picture, write a few words of thanks and make a card to let the service person know how much they appreciated their time.
- Make interviews like this a tradition and plan to do it for every patriotic/veteran’s holiday.
- Find ways that you can help support our troops and those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country by sending cards, treats and supplies to those who are stationed overseas.
- Contact your local Veteran’s associations and see what volunteer options there may be.
We all do our best to recognize the service that others have given to our country. But this year, let’s all take just one extra step to understand what it’s like and show a member of our Armed Forces how much we appreciate them.
Learning about the original caretakers of the great land we now call America has traditionally been relegated to Thanksgiving, but the rich history of Indigenous (Native) Americans invite great projects and fun activities that can (and should) be discussed year-round!
Paper Plate Dream Catchers:
Dream Catchers are believed to catch negative energy and spirits in the webbing and allow positive dreams and energy to flow down and protect you while you sleep It’s easy to make your own and learn about Native American culture!
- Cut a circle out of the center of the paper plate. You can use the center part that you remove to cut out hearts, stars and moons to decorate your dream catcher.
- Cut even holes into the rim of your paper plate.
- Knot a piece of yarn to one hole and lace it through the holes, varying your direction. Pro tip: wrap yarn around the paper plate to hide the plate and add even more decoration.
- Thread beads onto the yarn as you go (pro tip: wrap the end with scotch tape to make it easier to work through the holes).
- Use the hearts, stars and moons in the center of your paper plate and wrap the thread around as you go to create a centerpiece.
- Once you have the center netting perfect add additional pieces of yarn to the bottom.
- String beads and the feathers through the ends to finish off your masterpiece! If you can’t find feathers, make them from felt!
Basket weaving was an important part of Native American culture and you can find thousands of beautiful pieces to use to introduce the idea. The perfect introduction to basket weaving (which can parlay into a new tradition of homemade gifts)! Bowls can be made to hold keys, toys, jewelry…anything! Using different colored yarn and different sized bowls, you can make one for every holiday or special celebration.
- Cut a slit form the rim of the bowl to the flat base – don’t go too deep into the bowl, just to where the flat part starts.
- Make slits about 2″ apart. For a 6″ diameter bowl, that’s about six slits. You’ll want to make sure there are an odd number of flaps.
- Cut a 3′ piece of yarn and tie it at the base of one of the flaps – it doesn’t matter where you start.
- Weave the yarn in and out of the slits of the bowl until the yarn runs out.
- Tie a 2′ piece of yarn in another color to the end of the first piece and continue weaving the yarn in and out of the slits.
- Continue this process, adding different colors as you go and experimenting with different lengths.
- When the whole bowl is covered, tie off the end and admire your work!
Native Americans have been making coil pots for cooking, storage or preserving seeds for more than 1,000 years. We’re guessing you kids know their way around a jar of play dough, which will make this project a snap! You only need one thing: air-dry clay and there are a ton of color choices!
- How easy is this project? Basically, anything you can make with play dough, you can make with air-dry clay and create your own clay pot! Combine different designs and build until your heart’s content! So that your pot will serve to actually hold things, make sure to start with a base and build from there!
- Make sure to follow the directions on the package for drying time. You can expect to have to let your kid’s creations sit for about a week before they are fully dry and ready to be used. So if you use this one to make homemade gifts, be sure to plan ahead!
It’s easier than you think for your kids to make their own Medicine Bags! Medicine bags were used for exactly what it sounds like…medicine! Hundreds of years ago, medicine was made from various plants that were used by either eating, being steeped as a drink or they could be muddled, made into pastes or rubs. These bags held the various remedies so they were easily accessible.
- You’ll need:
- A piece of fabric (thicker fabric works best and felt is a great option). The bigger the piece, the bigger your bag. A 12″ diameter piece will make a bag that stands about 4″-5″ tall.
- A piece of cord: you can use a shoestring, yarn, or a leather cord. The cord needs to be about 6″-8″ longer than the diameter of your fabric.
- Cut the fabric into a circle
- Mark holes around the edge of the fabric, about 1/2″ from the edge. They should be about 2″ apart.
- Use a hole punch to create the holes
- Tie a knot into one end of the cord and start weaving the cord in and out of the holes. When you get back to where you started, add some beads to the ends (beads can also be used to slide up and down the cords and keep the bag shut. tie the two ends together,
- Pull on the cord to cinch the bag closed and you’re done!
Have fun creating and learning with your kids! Here are just a few tidbits you can use in conversation while you’re having fun:
Values of Native Americans:
There are 5 themes that are found across all tribes that are life lessons we can all learn from and are perfect for the kiddos, incorporate them into your projects!
- Feed Strangers
- When the colonists arrived from Europe, most of them died from diseases and starvation. The surrounding tribes saw this and donated some of their harvest to the hungry colonists.
- Native Americans also taught the colonists how to plant and hunt in the new land.
- The Great Law of Peace written by the Iroquois tribes of New England in the 18th century advocated that a proper chief would never let his people go without food.
- Among present day Native Americans, extra food is usually expected to be taken home after an event so nobody goes hungry.
- Everyone is Equal
- Native American culture during the colonial eras saw everyone as equal to them. There was no segregation or separation. The Great Law of Peace reads “The Great Creator has made us of one blood and of the same soil…only different tongues constitute different nations.” The Iroquois nation’s Great Law of Peace was later a source of influence for the US Constitution.
- Though they were gender roles in tribes, no gender was superior to the other. In fact, among Iroquois tribes, the chief was always male, but the chief was always selected by a council of women.
- Homosexuals in tribes were often called “two-spirited” and accepted for their sexuality.
- Children were also welcomed with open arms as contributing members of the community and given large amounts of affection.
- Be Kind to Your New Neighbors
- Native Americans were actually quite fond of the colonists before all the historical disputes occurred. Many tribal leaders wanted to have trading agreements with their new neighbors and sought alliances between them.
- Tribes were also hospitable to the newcomers and supplied them with food and shelter as the colonists got back on their feet. Some colonists chose to join a tribe and were adopted as official members.
- Those who joined a tribe were allowed equal rights and privileges.
- The Creek council wrote to the English colonists in 1759, “The English are our friends and we love them dearly.”
- Education is the Key to Success
- Before the Europeans set foot in the New World, the Native Americans already had education for young children. Boys were taught how to hunt and fight while girls were taught how to cook and keep up a household, but also learned how to fight if the tribe ran short on male warriors.
- Each person in the tribe was expected to educate the children in some way. A Native proverb says “Children must be taught or they will not know anything; if they do not know anything; they will have no sense; if they have no sense, they will not know how to act.”
- Never Say Goodbye
- Our favorite of the major themes of Native American culture….never say goodbye since you will always see the person you’re parting with on a later date…either in this life, the next life or the afterlife.
- Most native languages don’t even have a word for “goodbye”. Instead, they say “toksa”, meaning “see you later”.
- There are 6.79 million Indigenous Americans living in the US in 2020.
- Why do we say Native Americans or Indigenous Americans instead of Indians? When Christopher Columbus landed in America, he thought he had sailed to India. The GPS and the internet weren’t exactly a thing back then. He called the tribes he encountered Indians and the name stuck, but as we know now, that label couldn’t be further from accurate.. The term “Indigenous” means original and is a synonym to “native”. It is being used more and more and your kids will hear it…introduce both Native and Indigenous to make sure they’re in the know.
- Native Americans lived in groups called tribes Cherokee, Apache, Sioux & Navajo are all some you’ve probably heard of. But what about Chickasaw, Winnebago (it’s more than just a tent on wheels), Kahnawake or Wappo? Each tribe created their own traditions and cultures and while there are several similarities there are also several differences.
- It’s easy to compare the different tribes to the differences between Italian, Irish, Puerto Rican, Japanese or Haitian. Or even a little closer to home…southern, Californian, New Englander, Texan or Midwesterner!
- Choose a tribe and dive in to what makes them unique.
- Pro-tip: Use the exploration of different tribes and how they generally lived peacefully together, but separate, to teach your kids about how we can be different and still accepting of other’s thoughts and values.
- There are more than 570 federally recognized tribes.
- Only about 30% of Native Americans still live on reservations.
- Art supplies:
- Books for kids:
- I am Sacagawea: introduce kids to this literal trailblazer and the ideas of courage and determination
- The Princess Pocahontas: the historically accurate story of Pocahontas, her playful, intelligent nature and desire for peace
- Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa: the story of Native American author, musician and activist, Gertrude Simmons, aka Zitkala-Sa
- Who is Maria Tallchief?: the fantastic story about America’s first major prima ballerina
- Thunder Boy Jr: Learn about father/son relationships, independence and self-identity
- Hungry Johnny: Learn about gratitude, patience and respect
Many families know that the US flag is folded a very specific way….but do you know that there is a reason for each of the 13 folds?
Families of service members and veterans who have been handed a flag on behalf of their loved one know all too well how powerful the visual of the folded flag is and now you can bring further understanding and appreciation to your family.
To get you started….the 13 folds of the flag are more than just a folding pattern that holds the flag neatly in place, each fold holds specific significance for those in the military, and by extension, all American citizens. Find the reasons for each fold and discuss the tradition with your family. Research the history and read stories about what the flag means to those families who have received one through formal ceremonies.
As an added activity, practice folding the flag at home; flags of all sizes can be purchased and it adds another project to learn about proper flag etiquette for the family.