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Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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5 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

November 21, 2014

By Amelia Orozco

5 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids | A multi-generational family sits at the table during Thanksgiving dinner.

Holidays can provide abundant opportunities for kids to learn, and Thanksgiving is no different. From the story of its origin to emotional and social activities that will become cherished traditions, even family who don’t live in the United States can learn about the holiday and connect with your children in meaningful ways.

Try these five activities with your children and extended family this Thanksgiving:

  1. Tell Stories
    Share the story of the English settlers and Native Americans’ first Thanksgiving dinner. This story can help even your youngest child remember the true meaning of the holiday. Use words like “exploration,” “feast,” “celebration,” “families,” “neighbors,” and “sharing” when discussing the story.
  2. Give Thanks with Notes
    As the holiday approaches, hide thank you notes for other members of your family to find, and encourage your children to do the same. These notes can say anything from “Thank you for taking out the trash” to “Thank you for being a good listener.”
  3. Draw Pictures
    If your children cannot read or write yet, they can still participate by creating a special picture by tracing leaves and then coloring in the shapes. You can leave them notes with smiley faces. These will remind your children how much you appreciate them.
  4. Donate to Charity
    Thanksgiving is also a wonderful time to donate to charity. Your children can help organize a drive for food, toys, or clothing at their school or playgroup. Inspiring them to take action will make them conscientious citizens who aspire to help others. It’s exciting to see how these activities awaken a desire to ask more questions.
  5. Share the Cooking Process
    Making a list of ingredients, shopping, and preparing a favorite Thanksgiving recipe will give you quality family time and many learning opportunities, from measuring exercises to a test in patience while waiting for the food to cook.

These activities can help your children and family create positive memories that will keep the happy thoughts coming until next year’s celebration.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving activities to do with your children? Tell me in the comments below.



Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.

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Halloween Movies for All Ages

October 30, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

Halloween Movies for All Ages | Happy Halloween image with bats in on an orange background.

One of the best parts about Halloween besides dressing up and getting free candy are the movies. There are so many genres of films, from funny cartoons to suspenseful slashers, that it’s easy to find something for every age. Embrace the season and cuddle up with your son or daughter on a chilly night and watch one of these good thrills.

Ages 0-6
These movies are a great introduction to Halloween for young ones. Each movie touches on Halloween traditions whether it’s trick or treating, telling scary stories, or learning about monsters.

Ages 7-12
These flicks have a little more spook to them, but don’t worry—they’re quickly redeemed with comedy.

Ages 13 and up
This list contains the classic scare movies. Warning: you might even have flashbacks to the first time you saw these movies and remember how scared you were!

Depending on what kind of movies you allow your child to watch (i.e. gory, slasher, suspense), be aware of the language, violence, sexual situations, and whether you deem it age appropriate. If you are unsure about a movie’s ratings, check out Common Sense Media. You can search most movies and the site will tell you everything you need to know from its educational value to positive role models to the level of violence. It also rates the movie on their own age scale, and includes reviews from parents and children.

What are some Halloween favorites you enjoy watching with your family? Tell me in the comments below.

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DIY: Spooky Halloween Projects on a Budget

October 16, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

For kids, Halloween isn’t just one day of the year; it’s a month-long celebration! And who can blame them when there are so many fun and exciting things to do daily? Sure, you can take them to the pumpkin patches or apple picking, but money can get stretched thin fast, especially if you have a costume to purchase for one or more kids. There are plenty of low-cost or free Halloween crafts that you can do in your own home. It’s also a great opportunity to bond and create holiday traditions!

Decorations

DIY: Spooky Halloween Projects on a Budget | milk jugs decorated like ghosts

Ghost Jugs
Need: 3-4 clean gallon milk or water jugs, black markers, holiday lights or battery-operated candle

Remove any stickers from the jugs and make sure they’re clean and dry. Using the black marker, draw a face on the opposite side of the handle. Keep the cap on so the jug doesn’t dent while drawing on it. If you have clear holiday lights or a battery-operated candle, cut a hole in the bottom of the jug (about the size of a half dollar) and insert either type of lighting inside to make the jugs glow. Put them around the house or in the windows for ghoulish decor.

DIY: Spooky Halloween Projects on a Budget | paper towel rolls with eye-like cutouts glow from the bushes thanks to glowsticks inside the tubes

Spooky Eyes
Need: 4-5 clean toilet paper rolls, kid-friendly scissors, tape, colored glow sticks

Cut pairs of small holes in the middle of the toilet paper roll. Put a glow stick in the toilet paper roll and tape the ends so it doesn’t fall out. Scatter the rolls around the front or back yard in the bushes. Don’t put them too deep—keep them near the surface of the bushes so they’re seen.

DIY: Spooky Halloween Projects on a Budget | black bat cutouts line an orange wall

Paper Cats, Bats, or Mice
Need: Black construction paper, pencil, kid-friendly scissors, masking tape, traceable template for the animal of choice (we found some good options here)

First, print the templates and cut out each animal you will be using. Using that animal as a guide, trace the shapes onto black construction paper and cut them out. Then mount as desired throughout the house, using the masking tape. If you have a staircase, put them at the bottom of each step to spook people walking up.

Food and Liquid Fun

DIY: Spooky Halloween Projects on a Budget | Orange and black plastic spiders sit inside ice cubes.

Spider Ice Cubes
Need: ice cube trays, water, plastic spiders

Put plastic spiders in the ice cube trays and fill them with water. Freeze overnight. If you have other tiny plastic critters that are clean and safe, you can use those, too. Once frozen, put the ice cubes in your favorite cold beverage. It will look like you are drinking critters!
Caution: only do this activity if your children are old enough to understand they shouldn’t swallow the plastic critters. To be safe, remind them that they should remove the critter once the ice melts.

DIY: Spooky Halloween Projects on a Budget | Halloween cookie and candy white chocolate bark

Halloween Bark (Easy No-Bake Treat)
Need: 1 lb white chocolate (melted in the microwave or on the stove), 1 tbsp Halloween food sprinkles, 1 cup of pretzels, 12 orange and black sandwich cookies, 1.5 cups candy corn, 20 candy eyeballs

Break apart the pretzels and cookies. Mix together the sprinkles, broken pretzels and cookies, candy corn, and candy eyeballs. Spread the mixture onto a cookie tray. Pour the melted white chocolate over the mixture, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Then place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours to harden. Once hardened, take out and break into small pieces. Enjoy!

For more creative Halloween ideas, check out our Pinterest page. Please share some of your Halloween traditions or creativity in the comments below!

Tags :  DIYholidayactivitiesbudgetfamily fun
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National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 1, 2014

By Jessica Vician

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2014

Since 1988, the United States has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Most of the time when we honor a specific heritage throughout a month-long period, it takes place within one month, but not National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why does this celebration occur during the last half of September and the first half of October? The answer lies in what we are honoring in that 30-day period.

Back in May, we introduced you to diez y seis de septiembre (also known as Mexican Independence Day). As the name implies, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. But National Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t only honor Mexican-Americans. We also celebrate the histories and cultures of Americans with ancestral backgrounds from Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Many of the countries in those areas celebrate significant days that fall between the 15th of September and the 15th of October. For example, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica all celebrate their independence days on September 15. Chile celebrates on September 18.

On October 12, many of these Spanish-speaking countries celebrate día de la raza (Day of the Race), which is referred to as Columbus Day in English and the U.S. On this day, we remember what happened after Christopher Columbus landed in the now-Bahamas. Notably, the multi-cultural society we live in today is the result of the blending of European and indigenous cultures throughout North, Central, and South America.

These are just four dates in Hispanic history, but due to the importance of each of them and the celebrations we hold around them, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage Month in this unique manner as the 30 days between September 15 and October 15.

At YOU Parent, we encourage you to share these stories of independence and celebration with your children. How have you honored National Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaycultureacademicsocialteachers
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Rosh Hashanah

September 24, 2014

By Jessica Vician

L'shanah tovah!

Tonight marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, a two-day holiday of the Jewish faith often referred to as the Jewish New Year. The "head of the year" celebrates the first and second days of the Jewish year and is one of the holiest days in the faith.

While each family may choose to celebrate the holiday a bit differently, many parents choose to teach their children the importance of spending time with family and treating others kindly throughout the upcoming year.

Traditions include attending a family service at Temple, reading books about Rosh Hashanah, blowing the shofar—a ram’s horn—and eating apples and honey to bring a sweet new year.

Whatever your faith, Rosh Hashanah is a perfect opportunity to sit down with your family for a meal and reflect on the year so far. Ask your children how they think they can be kinder to others for the rest of the calendar year, and make suggestions for yourself, too. Cap the evening off with apples and honey and have your whole family wish for a sweet year.

L’shanah tovah!

Tags :  holidayfamily funactivities
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