Category: helping

Disasters, Kids, Japan, Helping…

By , March 18, 2011 9:47 pm


The first thing I did on 9/11 was head down to my local Red Cross to join the giant blood donation line, something I had never done before.  Unfortunately there were not enough survivors to need blood, especially mine that was located way far away in New Mexico.  But of course no one knew that at the time.  I felt shocked, confused, helpless.  The only way to regain an illusion of control over life was to attempt to help in some way.

Children are prone to even more confusion and fear than adults when disasters strike somewhere on our planet.  With very young children, avoiding any TV or radio news coverage in their presence is probably the best solution.

With older children, viewing news together (or, in the case of our family, listening together) and answering questions is a better technique.  Children will hear talk at school that might be sensationalist, inaccurate, or incomplete.  Even those who are home schooled and perhaps more sheltered from school-yard talk, need to learn eventually how to analyze news broadcasts and understand the world.  This will be an important learning moment.

  • Stick to facts.  If there is something you don’t understand, research the answer together.
  • Stress that sometimes media coverage can be exaggerated.
  • Reassure them that such extreme events are rare and that they, and family members, are safe.
  • Brainstorm together ways to help, even if only in a small way.

HELPING (my favorite topic!):

Of course this post is inspired by Japan.  Here are some ways for you and your children to help there:

“Hope Letters will find ways to deliver the messages to local schools and school boards.  The messages may be posted electronically if that is available, placed as a hardcopy journal or broadcasted via local news agencies.  (Hope Letters is currently working to establish these distribution channels.  If you have suggestions, please get in touch with Hope Letters at HopeLettersCanada “at” gmail “dot” com.)”

  • Quick Fundraising Ideas (able to be organized within several weeks at most):

For schools – try bake sales, used book sales (like the one we did for Haiti), a penny war, yard sale, car wash, raffle off something cool (shh… for a good cause, people will buy tickets … even if your prize is really not that cool…), 50/50 fundraiser, guessing game.

For home – How about a lemonade stand, garage sale, birthday parties (donations in lieu of presents), street-side bake sale, car wash.

  • Be sure to donate your money to an official disaster relief organization now working in Japan.

It has been exactly one week since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  It has taken me one week to attempt to comprehend what has happened there.  My thoughts are with Japan.

Random Acts of Kindness

By , February 16, 2011 12:08 pm


Apparently it is Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Who knew?

But now seems like an excellent time to teach your children about Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) and the concept of Pay it Forward.  I just gave a successful class on this very subject at my children’s Montessori School and here is what I suggest:

  • Make sure everyone understands what the words “random” and “act of kindness” mean.
  • Read the book Because Brian Hugged His Mother by David L. Rice (illustrated by Kathryn Dyble Thompson).  An excellent introduction to the concept of “Pay it Forward” in a story that children can relate to (NOTE:  I have LOVED this book for a long time.  If you want, please read my review).
  • Suggest some easy things kids can do to make a positive difference in someone’s day.  Here are a few:
    • Smile at someone  :-)
    • Hold a door open for someone
    • Do a daily chore normally performed by a sibling
    • Do a household chore without being asked:  feed dog, do the dirty dishes you see in sink, etc.
    • Leave your change in the soda machine for someone else to find
    • Shovel your neighbors’ steps
    • Plant a seed
  • Have the kids brainstorm some more easy ideas.
  • Let them give it a try.  Give them one week to complete one RAK and report back on what they did and the outcome (how it felt, consequences to them if any, etc.).


Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Kid Activities – Acts of Kindness

KindSpring – Kindness Ideas

[Image thanks to Kid Activities!]

Book & Bake Sale for Haiti

By , February 2, 2010 11:51 am



That’s how much a class of thirteen 6 to 9 year-olds raised for

Partners in Health’s Haiti relief fund

with a simple Book & Bake Sale!

If they can do it, you can do it too!

How they did it:

Two weeks ahead of time:

  • They hung a sign on the school door asking for donations of books and baked goods for our Haiti fundraiser.
  • They placed an empty box in the school entryway for collecting the books.
  • They also put a sealed box in the lobby for any impromptu donations.

Day before, set-up:

  • The day before the sale they accepted baked goods.
  • After school they sorted the books into children and adult piles.
  • They organized the children’s books into separate boxes and baskets based on level (picture books, readers, chapter books).
  • Everything was set up on tables in our tiny school entryway with a simple pricing system posted.

The Sale:

  • The morning of the sale, they set up the baked goods outside the door on a table (it was so cold and snowy that there was no danger of spoilage!).
  • The school is on a side street, so they put out a sign on the main road nearby.  They also put signs in the grocery store and the library.  All signs said clearly that proceeds would be for Haiti.
  • The sealed box went to a prominent location on the book table, with a basket nearby with a few small bills and coins for making change.
  • They hung a Haitian flag and also posted some information about Partners in Health so any interested people could read more about where their money would be going.


  • I helped them sort through the leftover books and we separated the ones that were fairly recent and looked pretty new.
  • We took these “good” leftovers to our local bookstore so the owner could buy any that would work for her used book section. She ended up buying almost all of them, and even gave us more than her normal cash price since we were doing this for Haiti!  (Be sure to let a bookstore know that you are selling for Haiti)
  • The kids packed up the other books and we put them in storage for our annual school yard sale.


  • Practical math lesson:  The children counted the cash and were SO excited, especially when they found a $100 bill in the box!
  • Their teacher counted the checks for privacy reasons (NOTE:  For ease of accounting, we made sure people made their checks out directly to Partners in Health and not to our school).
  • I took the cash to the bank and traded it in for a cashiers check made out to Partners in Health.

And voilà!  Not a whole lot of effort really, but now we have a nice donation to send off to Partners in Health and the kids feel GREAT!

Why not try it with your school?

Stand With Haiti

For more fundraising ideas, please read Help Your Kids Help Haiti.

Change – Weekly Unplugged Project

By , October 25, 2009 8:19 pm

This week’s post is a change from other Unplugged Project posts.  The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was change.  We did lots of things this week that involve change, but no real sit down and do it kind of “project.”  None of these projects were planned around the theme, they just happened.

Change the world: On Thursday I took my oldest daughter and a few other children from her class to our local soup kitchen to help serve lunch and clean tables.  I am leading a community service workshop for our small Montessori school’s elementary class (6 to 9 year-olds).  If we want to change the world, we must start with the children.  More on this project later.

Small change (can change the world): Of their own initiative, my oldest daughter and two friends have formed a secret club called The Helping Hands Club (The HHC for those in the know!).  On Saturday they sold homemade chocolate chip cookies that they made (by themselves) and pumpkins (that they bought with their own money) to a few neighbors and made $21+ in small change for charity!  (Reminded me a bit of the great Heifer International Christmas ornament sale a few years ago.)

Change of seasons: It is fall in our part of the world and we walked together on this glorious fall day. The sky was blue, the fall colors vibrant, the air crisp yet comfortable. A fire is crackling in the fireplace now as I write this.

Changing the worm bin: Yes, the worms in our worm bin are still happily eating, reproducing, and pooping.  It was time to change the bedding and harvest the castings, so we did it today.  The kids love interacting with the worms.  We are trying a new harvesting method this time, more on that later if it works.


If you did a change Unplugged Project, then please link to your POST not just your blog in the Linky below. If you did not join in, then do not link, but you can always read more here about how to participate in the Unplugged Project. We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Have fun and be creative!


Panorama Theme by Themocracy