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4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas

December 13, 2016

By Jessica Vician

4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas | A pointed star piñata waits to be hit by children on Las Posadas.

What is your family doing to celebrate Las Posadas this year? We have four ideas for family activities that range from educational and fun to delicious and filling.

Las Posadas Learning Activity
Teach your toddler or early elementary student about Las Posadas by sharing the symbolism of the poinsettia, the story of Las Posadas, and the traditional way of celebrating in Mexico.

This Las Posadas activity from Scholastic is designed for a classroom but would be fun at home or at a party.

DIY Nativity Scene Toys
A nativity scene can be found in many Christian households during the holidays, but often, the pieces that make up the nativity scene are fragile and not to be touched.

Encourage your child to learn Mary and Joseph's story on the night of Jesus' birth while letting him or her play with a kid-friendly nativity scene that you make together. Mommy Maestra has a great DIY tutorial on making your own nativity scene.

Gather the Kids for a Play
Tap into their inner performer and encourage your kids and their friends to put on a play that tells the Las Posadas story. Gather the adults for an audience and share your parent pride with applause!

Recipes for Las Posadas
Celebrate Las Posadas with traditional Mexican recipes that will warm your family's hearts and bellies. Latino Foodie has recipes for chile verde pork tamales, chipotle-glazed ham, Oaxacan pollo almendrado, and pan dulce. ¡Que rico!

Ask your children to help prepare the meal by giving them age-appropriate tasks. Young ones can stir or set the table, while teenagers can do prep work like cutting vegetables. Let everyone help to keep the family close and the holiday spirit alive.

How does your family celebrate Las Posadas? Share your traditions in the comments below.

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How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family?

December 6, 2016

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family? | A young girl helps her mother make holiday cookies.

Question: My 6-year-old daughter wants to start a new holiday tradition. She said she wants one that's just for our family. I'm stumped on ideas. Can you think of an activity we can start that will grow with our family as we get older?

Answer: It's wonderful that your daughter takes pride in your family and wants to do something that will bring you closer. Her request reminds us that even though the holidays are busy, it's important to dedicate some time or an activity to your immediate family, and in this case, your daughter.

We have a few ideas for traditions that will hold up as she matures—they might even stay with you if you become a grandparent one day!

Ornament Exchange
Choose a date during the holidays for an ornament exchange. Each family member can spend the week prior making or buying an ornament. After a special lunch or dinner, put the wrapped ornaments in a pile. Draw numbers, and let the person who drew number one choose the first ornament. In order of their number drawn, each person unwraps an ornament, keeping it for him or herself or trading it for another one. Then, the family puts their new ornaments on the tree together.

Holiday Market Visit
Set a date each year, like the first Saturday in December, to visit a holiday market as a family. It might not be the same market each year—if you have a lot of options in your area, you may want to make a rule to never repeat. While your daughter is young, choose a market with activities or shops for children. The activities might change as your daughter grows up, but the warm feeling of being surrounded by holiday traditions, smells, and your family will stay the same.

The Nutcracker
See a performance of The Nutcracker every year together. There are many performances in various price ranges, from professional ballets in big cities to college performances to dance school recitals. Choose one in your budget and expose your daughter to a dance form not often shown on television or YouTube these days.

Borrow Traditions from Other Cultures and Religions
Do you celebrate Christmas? Borrow the candle-lighting tradition from Hanukkah and teach your daughter about why Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah. Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Borrow the principals of Kwanzaa to teach your daughter about community. SheKnows has a great list of global traditions that you can incorporate into your new family tradition while teaching your daughter about other cultures and religions.

Do our readers have suggestions for fun family traditions that grow with your kids? Share in the comments below.

For more family-focused holiday fun, read our 5 Must-Do Holiday Family Activities article.

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Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post

October 25, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post | How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)? Try this activity.

After the trick or treating ends and the costumes are put away, there’s one last thing a parent has to worry about for Halloween: the begging and pleading for one more! piece of candy.

How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)?

If your child is in elementary school or above, make a trading game out of it. Assign relative values to each candy. For example, two rolls of Smarties are equivalent to one two-pack of fun-size Starburst. Not only does this game teach your children to use both mathematical and analytical skills, but it also turns the candy into a commodity that your child will start to see as more than just a sugary, fruity, or chocolaty treat.

Once you have assigned the relative values to each candy, invite your kids to divide their candy into the various categories you have assigned. If you need help determining values, watch this hilarious and accurate Buzzfeed video.

Then, invite your kids to trade according to the value system in place. Since there is a lot of excitement on Halloween night, let them trade a few days’ worth of candy that night (and eat some of it, embracing the inevitable sugar high). In the days following, host a candy trading post at the kitchen table after school or dinner so that your kids can honor the value system and continue to trade their candy each night for one dessert’s worth.

Continue the activity every night until all the candy is gone. As a parent, you choose whether to participate or supervise. If you have an only child, you should definitely participate—otherwise, whom will he or she trade with every night? If you don’t want to eat your candy, bring it to the office or treat your child with it after his or her supply is gone.

This Halloween candy trading activity is a great way to trick your kids into rationing their treats without whining and overindulging while developing their analytical and bargaining skills at the same time.

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Family Activity: Sunday Meal Prep

August 9, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Family Activity: Sunday Meal Prep | This is a great activity and weekly tradition that you can start doing with your family. | A mother and daughter prepare dinner together.

A colleague recently told me about an activity she started doing with her son every weekend and I want to pass it along:

My son and I started planning our meals for the week on Sundays. After breakfast, we sit down and talk about what we want for dinner that week. He helps me write down the ingredients he remembers and I add the items he forgets.

Then, we go to the grocery store and pick out everything on the list. For him, it’s a shopping bonanza! He gets to choose his box of cereal, help me pick out the produce while learning what to look for—I let him softly squeeze tomatoes to see if they’re ripe and have showed him how to choose a good pineapple.

That afternoon, we start preparing food for the week. We’ll cut up carrots and celery for lunchbox snacks and sometimes we’ll bake bran muffins with fruit in them for breakfast on-the-go or after-school snacks. And we always make Sunday dinner together.

Now that we’ve started this tradition, he gets really excited for Sundays because it’s a day of shopping, cooking, and eating! I’m just glad he enjoys helping and I get a chance to teach him little lessons, like how to measure and pick out fruit and veggies. He values his food more now that he gets to participate in the process.

This is a great activity and weekly tradition that you can start doing with your family. My colleague’s son is four years old, so he can help with basic things like recalling ingredients in favorite recipes, measuring ingredients, and mixing ingredients by hand, but the older your child is, the more responsibility he or she can take on. For example, an 11-year-old could make the salad while a 15-year-old cooks the main course.

Try this activity this weekend and let us know how it goes in the comments below. Will you use it as an opportunity to teach measuring and math skills, or will you focus on the life skills like picking the right avocado and budgeting for your grocery run? Whatever lessons or skills you teach, this activity is also a bonding experience for your family, so have fun and bon appetit!

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Our 14 Best Back to School Tips

August 2, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Our writers and program author have over 150 years of education and parenting experience combined. From all of that expertise, we’ve gathered our best 14 back to school tips and put them in one place—right here!—so you don’t need to look any further. From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered. | An elementary school student chooses a pack of pencils for her back to school supplies.

Starting a New School

Starting preschool, kindergarten, high school, or a new school system altogether can be stressful for some children. As parents, we must ease that transition so that their first experience in each school setting is one of comfort and excitement instead of fear and anxiety.

Here’s how you can prepare your child, depending on what new school he or she is starting:

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | "Back to School" is written on an illustrated chalkboard with paint, rulers, and assorted school supplies in the image.

Back to School Tips

For kids returning to the same school, there are a few basic things you must do before they can start, including:

Once you have checked those activities off the list, relieve some of the anticipation and pressure of the first day of school.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | Going Away to College | A father watches his son grab his dorm supplies from the car.

Going Away to College

For teenagers heading off to college, it’s an exciting time. But for many parents and the siblings still at home, the first time a child goes off to college can be challenging. Learn how to prepare your family with these articles.

Whatever your child’s age, when you prepare him or her for school physically, emotionally, and socially, he or she will settle more easily into a successful academic routine. Use these activities to bond as a family before the transition and you’ll create happy memories before the school year begins. 

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