Celebrate Be Kind to Humankind Week

be-kind-to-humankind-week

Join in a celebration you might not have heard of before. This week marks the 22nd annual Be Kind to Humankind Week, which encourages people of all ages to show each other kindness and consideration (and carry it on throughout the rest of the year).

Take the opportunity to talk to your children about the importance of caring for others through our actions and words, and come up with ways you can “pay it forward” in your family or community. Here are a few ideas to get started…

1.     Say “thank you”

Think of the people who have made a difference in your kids’ lives—a favorite teacher, coach or family friend. Ask your children specific questions such as “What was your favorite part of Mr. Potter’s kindergarten class?” and “How did you feel when Melissa taught you how to swim the backstroke?” and help them write thank-you cards for each of their mentors. A simple, heartfelt letter is guaranteed to make someone’s day.

2.     Donate your time

Spend a day during Be Kind to Humankind Week volunteering for a local nonprofit as a family. Find a volunteer opportunity that is simple enough for small children and fits well with your family’s interests and abilities. Bring books and toys to a children’s hospital, help out with a community clean-up or prepare meals at a homeless shelter. You will get to work side-by-side with your kids for a good cause, and you may enjoy it so much that it becomes a regular family activity.

3.     Help out a neighbor

Ask your children to be on the lookout for simple ways to be kind your neighbors—from inviting the new kids on the block over to play to helping an elderly neighbor weed her garden. The small actions can make a big difference, and you may get to know your neighbors better.

4.     Create art

Break out the craft supplies and spend an afternoon making beautiful drawings, paintings, sculptures or jewelry. Give the creations to grandparents, teachers or other friends as “just because” gifts.

5.     Bake goodies

Get in touch with your sweet side; bake a few batches of delicious brownies, cookies or pastries and deliver them to people deserve a little extra appreciation. Your mail carrier, gardener, librarian or babysitter will love the unexpected treat.

How do you plan to celebrate Be Kind to Humankind Week? Post your ideas in the comments!

Five Literacy Organizations We Love

literary-organizations1

Reading opens our minds, hearts and imaginations, and we hope someday every child has the opportunity to fall in love with books. Here are a few of our favorite childhood literacy organizations that are doing amazing work to make that dream a reality.

1.     Raising a Reader
This national network of educational, nonprofit and community organizations works to engage parents in reading to their children from birth to age five, preparing them for kindergarten and instilling in them a lifelong passion for books. Since 1999, Raising a Reader has reached more than 700,000 children in sites across the country and hopes to increase this number to one million in the near future.

Get involved with Raising a Reader.

2.     Reading is Fundamental, Inc.
Reading is Fundamental, Inc. is the largest and oldest children’s literacy nonprofit organization in the United States. The organization’s mission is to motivate children to read by providing resources to families and creating national, regional and local reading programs. RIF is especially dedicated to reaching underserved children from birth to age eight; last year, RIF gave 4.4 million children 15 million new, free books and literary resources.

Volunteer with Reading is Fundamental.

3.     Reading Rockets
Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that uses PBS television programs, web services and teacher development opportunities to teach children how to read and give extra help to those who struggle. Its reading resources give parents and educators the support they need to build self-esteem and reading skills in kids overcoming reading difficulties.

Donate to Reading Rockets.

4.     Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read partners with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to promote early literacy and encourage families to read together. Pediatric health care providers incorporate the Reach Out and Read model into regular check-ups, giving kids new books to take home and advising parents about the importance of reading out loud to their children. In 2010, this organization will serve 3.9 million children nationwide.

Support Reach Out and Read.

5.     Beginning with Books
Beginning with Books uses research-based literacy programs to increase the number of children who become lifelong readers. Its core programs focus on donating books to families, providing reading mentors to children and breaking the generational cycle of literacy problems in underserved communities.

Donate to Beginning with Books.

This list only scratches the surface of all the literacy organizations doing great work out there. Who are we missing that you would like to add?

Buy a Frecklebox personalized storybook for the beginning reader in your life. 

Healthy and Delicious Summer Desserts

summerdessert

On a hot, summer day, nothing sounds better than a giant ice cream sundae with all the fixin’s (extra chocolate syrup, of course). While indulging in a big bowl of ice cream is a great treat every now and then, it’s not the healthiest dish to eat every day. Try out these light, healthy, guilt-free summer desserts on your family instead, and enjoy every bite!

Easy homemade popsicles

These refreshing treats are a cinch to make and will please even the pickiest kids. Fill popsicle molds with your favorite fruit blend (ideas below), freeze for about four hours, then add popsicle sticks to each mold and freeze until solid.

  • Fruit juice popsicles: All you need is your favorite fruit juice (apple, orange, grapefruit, berry)
  • Fruit and yogurt popsicles: Puree plain or vanilla yogurt, fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries and/or strawberries in a blender. Add a little honey or sugar for extra sweetness.
  • Pudding popsicles: Mix up a batch of instant pudding (chocolate, vanilla or butterscotch are favorites)

Sweet grilled peaches or apricots

Grilled fruit is the perfect addition to any barbecue. Simply cut peaches or apricots in half, remove pits and brush with a mixture of oil, cinnamon and sugar or honey. Let them marinate for 10 to 15 minutes, then grill for two to three minutes on each side.

Smoothies

An ice-cold smoothie tastes just as delicious as a milk shake, but it’s deceptively healthy and simple to make.

  • For a fruity sensation, throw frozen fruit (cherries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries), a whole banana, a cup of plain yogurt, a cup of ice and a bit of honey for added sweetness into a blender and puree until smooth.
  • For a chocolate-peanut-butter delight, blend 1¼ cup of milk (or almond or soy milk), one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, two teaspoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, a whole banana and a cup of ice.

Crepes

This French dessert is simple to prepare and can be customized in countless ways. To make a basic crepe, mix two eggs, ¾ cup of milk, one cup of flour and two or three tablespoons of butter (briefly pulsing the mixture in a blender produces a smooth consistency). In a small, nonstick pan, melt a small amount of butter and pour batter in a light layer to create a very thin pancake. Cook for about 30 seconds, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds.

Toppings:

  • Sugar, lemon juice and a bit of butter
  • Honey
  • Fruit jam or marmalade
  • Fresh fruit
  • A small amount of chocolate, peanut butter or almond butter

Sorbet

Garnish small bowls of store-bought sorbet with fresh fruit, chocolate chips or sprinkles and you instantly transform a plain dessert into a restaurant-quality indulgence.