Mar 052014

Spring Sensory Outdoor Play {All Things Kids} -

Spring is in the air!  Or, depending on what part of the country (or world!) you are in, perhaps spring is only in your mind.  Either way, I think most of us are ready for some spring fun after a very long winter!

In that spirit, this week the bloggers of All Things Kids are hosting a series on Spring Sensory Play Date Activities.  (In case you missed them, our previous series focused on Winter Books and Activities and Showing Kids Love). Don’t forget to link up your own posts at the end!

As part of the character building classes I am teaching for Monkey and his friends, I recently did a unit on Love.  This included love of nature, so as part of that lesson I took them outside for some sensory play.

First I had them all draw in their notebooks pictures representing the five senses: ear, nose, eye, hand, and mouth.

Outdoor Sensory Play {All Things Kids}

Then we went through the senses one by one, and they had to sketch (with their mom’s help if needed) what they experienced with that sense.  So, for example, we heard birds chirping (and a truck going by, as it turned out), and we smelled different leaves we found.  In case you were worried that they would try to eat some sticks or something, for “taste” we cut up an orange from one of our trees 😉

Spring Sensory Outdoor Play {All Things Kids} -

It was fun to see what they came up with (one child observed that the air smelled like mud – it did!).  But most of all I hope that they experienced the outdoors differently than they had before, by beginning to pay attention to all five of their senses.

Spring Sensory Outdoor Play {All Things Kids} -

Has spring arrived where you are?

Spring Sensory Playdate Activities - All Things Kids

Be sure to visit the other bloggers in this series for more Spring Sensory fun: Crayon Chronicles, Sugar Aunts, House of Burke, Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, and Fun-A-Day! (You can read the full schedule on the series main page).

And don’t forget that you can find all this and more in our All Things Kids Google Plus community and our Pinterest Board!

Now it’s time to see your amazing posts!

Jan 202014

Teaching Kids to Help Others - MLK Day of Service Blog Hop -

This post is part of the MLK Day of Service Blog Hop. See details at the bottom of this post, including how to share your own posts and ideas about MLK Day and/or doing volunteer work with kids.

Starting this past fall, I have been lucky enough to teach a weekly character-building class for Monkey and some of his little friends (most of whom we did a preschool co-op with last year).  For my lesson plan, I rely heavily on the wonderful Radiant Hearts program from Enable Me to Grow.

One of the first units we did was about “service,” defined in this context as helping others.  Below are some of the activities we did to help the kids get a hands-on understanding of what doing service means and to get ready for our park clean up the following week.

Matching Game

After talking about what service means (“helping others”), we played a simple matching game I created.  I laid out four drawings of different places (living room, outdoors, bedroom, kitchen).  Then one by one we went through cards with drawings of different acts of service, and the kids took turns matching the service card to the place where s/he could do that act of service.  (Some of the cards had more than one correct answer).

Teaching Kids to Help Others - MLK Day of Service Blog Hop -

So, for example, watering plants would be done outside, while helping make cookies would be done in the kitchen.  Giving a hug, however, could take place anywhere!

Other service cards were for comforting someone, telling someone you love them, putting away clothes, cleaning up toys, and helping with groceries.

The point of this exercise was to get kids to think in a concrete way about acts of service and hopefully to imagine themselves doing them.


The kids were set to do a park clean up the following week, so in this class I wanted to help the kids get ready.  My goals were to help them be effective and safe at the clean up, while keeping it fun.

Before class I tore the pages out of old magazines and crumpled them up to make our trash.  I also took craft foam to make fake bottles, candy wrappers, and cigarettes.

Teaching Kids to Help Others - MLK Day of Service Blog Hop -

The game was for them to pick up all the “good” trash (paper, candy wrappers, unbroken bottles) as quickly as possible without picking up any “bad” trash (cigarettes, broken bottles, anything with a sharp edge).  They actually did much better than I expected!  The first attempt they were fast but picked up a lot of the “bad” trash, but the second time around they got the hang of it and managed to pick up (mostly) just the “good” trash.  They had so much fun we did it a third time just for kicks 🙂


One of the ideas in the Radiant Hearts Service lesson is to have kids be Service Super Heroes!  So for our craft we had the kids decorate super hero capes that one of the moms helped me cut out ahead of time.  (Here is a great tutorial from Racks and Mooby for an easy no-sew cape).

Teaching Kids to Help Others - MLK Day of Service Blog Hop -

Photo courtesy of D. Randolph

We originally thought to have them each do the initial of their name but decided to keep it simple by having everyone do an “S” for service.

Teaching Kids to Help Others - MLK Day of Service Blog Hop -

Photo courtesy of D. Randolph


For this and several other units, we used the coloring sheets from the Tiny Seeds Coloring Book by the amazing Misha Blaise.

Park Clean Up

The following week we all met at a local park to pick up trash.  Everyone wore their gloves and spread out over the grounds.  Although the kids didn’t have a tremendous attention span for this activity, I’d like to think we made the park a little cleaner before they rushed off to play.  And more importantly for my goals, I hope they had a positive experience with doing some service for others.

Teaching Kids to Help Others - MLK Day of Service Blog Hop -

Photo courtesy of D. Randolph

Now for more great ideas!

I am proud to join with members of Multicultural Kid Blogs to support the US Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service by challenging our readers (and ourselves!) to take the time to do service with our children. Today some of our wonderful bloggers are sharing ideas about the kinds of volunteer work they have done with their kids.

Share your own ideas in the comments or by linking up below! You can also join the discussion in our Google + Community!

For some ideas on doing volunteer work with kids, browse our list of family-friendly service projects or great organizations to support. You can also follow our Teaching Global Citizenship and Black History boards on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs

Pennies of Time

365 Days of Motherhood

Africa to America

All Done Monkey

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

The Good Long Road

Kid World Citizen

Learning to Be the Light

A Path of Light

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