Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

I’ve always encouraged my kids to “be kind” and “use kind words” but when there was an excess of crabbiness and bickering in our household, I invested in a book called ‘Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud‘. It literally changed our language around the concept of kindness to the point where “You are dipping in my bucket!” and “Did I fill your bucket?” have become common phrases in our house.

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Using a simple metaphor and explaining kindness in a way that children can grasp immediately, this book encourages positive behavior and explains how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis. It’s the perfect introduction to self-awareness and feelings, and beautifully helps kids visualize how their actions and words impact others.

To immerse ourselves a bit deeper in the concept of this book, I created a worksheet for the kids to help think through and specifically list out what “fills their bucket” and “dips in their bucket”. It was fun discussing the results as a family and interesting discovering what differences they had based on their individual personalities and/or love language(s).

Have You Filled a Bucket Today - Bucket Filling Worksheet - Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

Click Image to Download Free Printable

In an effort to encourage more “bucket filling” behavior into our daily life, as well as help visualize and reinforce the book’s concept of how “filling other people’s buckets also helps to fill our own”, I created these Gem Jars.

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Supplies for DIY Gem Jars:

General rules for our Gem Jars:

  1. Mom or Dad rewards an individual for “bucket filling” behavior / acts of kindness with a big or small gem – at their discretion, based on the specific act.
  2. There is no removal of gems for bucket dipping behavior. This is meant to detour any tattling on negative behavior, as our goal is to focus on and encourage positive behavior.
  3. It is perfectly acceptable to perform a bucket filling act specifically to ask for a gem. However, Mom or Dad may deny the gem for any reason (you’d be surprised at some of the stuff they come up with, lol).
  4. Children are encouraged to inform parents of their sibling’s kind acts so the bucket filler can receive a gem.
  5. When a child fills their Gem Jar, they receive a reward. Reward options are provided by Mom or Dad. Example rewards include: A specific toy/book/gift we know they want, 1:1 time with Mom/Dad like going to a movie, dinner at their favorite restaurant, out for ice cream, etc.

We have been using our Gem Jars for almost a year now and I’m happy to report that there has definitely been an increase in kindness and helping behavior around these parts. While I can honestly say I saw an immediate impact on my children’s behavior after reading this book and using our gem jars, I’m not going to pretend it’s some kind of miracle fix. I am just happy that it helped them become more self-aware and realize how their behavior impacts the people around them. Sure, sometimes they go out of their way to do kind things only because they want a gem – but hey, that’s the point! To be honest, I am especially proud of those moments when I see them clearly making a conscious effort to do something kind, when otherwise they may not have done so. When they are actively trying their best to be kind, everyone is happier. By putting happiness into terms the kids can understand and use, I think it really has helped them understand the effects of their actions and words on their own well being, as well as the well being of others. I couldn’t be more proud of my little bucket fillers!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” -Dalai Lama

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Continent, Country & Flag Identification

Color Coded Continents Countries and Flags Puzzle Identification - Hands on Learning - projectsinparenting.com
Since my boys were 3 years old, this US Foam Puzzle has been a favorite go-to of theirs. At 1st it was just fun for them to put together, but as they got older it became a great learning tool. They are now familiar with most US states, their shape, general location, as well as some facts we’ve learned along the way.

Jacob has been asking about the difference between city, state, country and continent lately, so I wanted to come up with a hands-on way for him to understand the bigger picture. Since they enjoyed the other foam puzzle so much, I decided to purchase this World Map Puzzle with Flags & Capitals. Understandably due to size constraints, it doesn’t include EVERY flag in the world. If it did, I think that would be too overwhelming anyway. The puzzle has a total of 65 flags (based mainly on country size) which seems to be the perfect start.

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The foam puzzle, flags and map provided are great. Unfortunately there is no ‘key’ to know where each flag goes. I was able to figure it out using the original sticker sheet, but both Jacob and Evan were at a complete loss putting the puzzle together without my help. To give them the independence of easily figuring it out on their own, I created a color-coded diagram showing all of the 65 flags and the corresponding country by continent. I also made a color-coordinating continent map for easy reference.

Click on image below for FREE Printable:

Hands-on Learning, Color Coded Continents, Countries and Flags - projectsinparenting.com
Hands-on Learning - Color Coded Continents, Countries and Flags - projectsinparenting.com

Once I gave them my diagrams (other than some adorably incorrect pronunciations) – easy peasy. Both Jacob and Evan were able to correctly identify 65 flags, place them in their corresponding country, and understand which continent they belonged to as well!

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I have no doubt this puzzle will be another one of their favorites – learning more as they grow and discovering new things each time they complete it.   🙂

Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book
Related: Constellation Sticker Craft

“Without geography, you are nowhere.”

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book Banner.jpg

We recently invested in a full-size digital piano and expanded our song list from my original post: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Sheets. I also switched the orientation of the pages (from horizontal to vertical). Doing so allowed me to create a beginner piano music book that sits nicely in the sheet stand. All I had to do was print them out, slide them into page protectors and insert the sheets into a 3-ring binder. To label our keys, I created these Removable Color Coded Piano Key Labels. Another option that coordinates exactly and are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards are these Color Coding Dot Labels (they just don’t remove as nicely).

Simple enough for my 4 year old to catch on quickly – this color coded piano music book has been such a confidence booster in my children’s ability to start reading sheet music.  Watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless. The best part – they are having so much fun learning!  🙂

To create your own Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book, including ALL NINE SONGS, click here.
Color Coded Piano Song Pack Banner

If you are simply looking to add to your collection from my previous post – below are the new songs…

Row Row Row Your Boat – FREE Download:
Row Row Row Your Boat

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday Banner

You Are My Sunshine and Baa Baa Black Sheep
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Are You Sleeping? (Frère Jacques)
Are You Sleeping Banner

And just in time for the holidays, I added Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Music Music Banner

Hope you enjoy these music sheets as much as we have!

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

Related Posts:

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music for Kids - Star Wars The Imperial March - projectsinparenting.com  DIY Darth Vader Star Wars Costume for Girls with Free printable chest plate iron-on - projectsinparenting.com  DIY Disney Autograph Memory Book - Multiple Colors

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music

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The other day, Jacob was jamming away on his toy piano singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – eyes closed, head bopping, slamming random keys on the key board…  I loved the enthusiasm and figured the boys are probably old enough to start reading beginner sheet music, so I decided to put together a few songs for them.

I am by no means a musician, but I did play piano back in the day and remembered some of the basics. I wanted to keep it simple with what I feel is a reasonable goal for toddlers and preschoolers: Find Middle C and play a simple song with one finger (not at all insisting on proper finger placement). I’m not trying to raise Mozart – I just want them to have fun and become comfortable with the basics of sheet music while doing so.

We have a Fischer-Price electronic keyboard that has color coding to the keys, so I decided to coordinate with that…. POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo), then upgraded to these Color Coding Dot Labels which coordinated perfectly, but then finally created these Removable Color Coded Piano Key Labels – Now the colors coordinate exactly and I love that they have a less harsh, easily removable adhesive.

I then created color-coded sheet music for a couple of their favorite songs. Click on below sheet music image to download a FREE printable.

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For more song selections and removable color-coded piano stickers, please visit my Etsy Shop.
9 song pack

As simple as that – now my boys understand the concept of reading and playing music on the piano. With or without an accurate rhythm on the keyboard, watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless!

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Related: Star Wars The Imperial March Beginner Piano Sheet Music
Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book

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Exploring Colors for Preschoolers

exploring-colors-for-preschoolers-projectsinparenting-com

Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet has been a long-time favorite book in our house. A truly brilliant and engaging way to introduce the idea of mixing colors. One of the best parts = The kids can mix colors, over and over again, without the actual mess of paint! Another great book to compliment this read is The Wonders of the Color Wheel, by Charles Ghigna. Similar to Mix It Up!, this book explains color combinations, but also touches upon the categorization of primary and secondary colors.

While paint seems to be the most logical activity for hands-on learning of mixing colors, I’ve found that (specifically when working with toddlers) the secondary colors never come out quite right. For example, when attempting to mix the bright green of a shamrock, we end up with more of a brownish-green that looks like rotting seaweed 😦

To make things a little easier (and more accurate), I’ve come up with a few other mediums that are great for exploring colors with kids…

1. Mixing Colored Water

water-color-exploring

I filled plastic cups with water and used food coloring to dye the cups in correspondence to this Color Math Printable. The boys then poured the 1st two cups in each row (primary colors), into the last empty cup, to create the secondary colors (green, purple & orange).

2. Play-Doh Color Wheel

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Using the primary colors of Play-Doh (blue, red & yellow), the boys mashed and rolled small pieces together to create each secondary color (green, purple & orange), and place them on their Color Wheel Printable.

3. Overlaying Transparency Colors

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Using the primary colors of Magnatiles, the boys held the tiles up to a window, overlapping them to discover each of the secondary colors. If you don’t have Magnatiles, any form of color transparencies can work.

Thanks for visiting my blog! For more fun kids’ activities and free printables, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can color the world are the ones who do”

Toddler Weekly Calendar

FREE Printable Toddler Weekly Calendar - projectsinparenting

Shortly after the boys turned 2 years old, they started finding Cory or I in the mornings and asking, “Is Dad home all day?”. If the answer was “no”, I often times had two crying kids on my hands. Understandably (in their minds), they were upset that Cory had to run off to some unknown “work” place, instead of staying home to play with them. Unfortunately for me, I had to break this news to them every Monday through Friday and they would be super angry with me – like it was MY choice which days Cory went to work.

While it was neat watching them realize the concept of days, I wanted to avoid the unnecessary tantrums and help them understand their schedules better. As a visual person myself, I decided to put together a weekly calendar *showing* them which days Dad was “home all day” (by putting a picture of Cory’s face on Saturday and Sunday). I printed out the calendar, put it in a sheet protector, and hung it on their bedroom door with a clothespin to mark the current day. Each morning, they would wake up and move the clothespin to the new day.

Both Jacob and Evan responded to the calendar extremely well, so I started adding images for almost everything – doctor’s appointments, swim class, holidays, etc. The boys quickly started understanding weekends vs. weekdays and were excited when something new would pop up on their calendar. Although our weekly events pretty much stayed the same, when I knew a holiday or special event was coming up, I would print the future week in advance and simply slide the sheet behind the current week (in the sheet protector) so that it was ready to go.

Avery is 2 years old now, and starting “toddler school” this week, so I started using the weekly calendar for her. She is loving the new responsibility of updating her marker for each day, and super excited for her 1st day of school. No more tantrums and full cooperation for the day’s activities (well, most of the time anyway). Either way, a definite WIN!

  • Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Printable.
  • Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Clipart Printable – Simply cut & paste appropriate holiday, event or activity onto your Weekly Calendar.
  • For sports classes such as swimming, gymnastics, tennis, etc., I recommend using images from Classroom Clipart (endless options and free!). This website also has perfect graphics to use for other activities (piano lessons, etc.) and additional holidays.

“December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

Related Posts:

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book Banner  Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

Constellation Sticker Craft

Constellation Sticker Craft - projectsinparenting

All things outer space has been a huge interest of the boys lately. They enjoy star gazing, identifying planets in the sky, and were thrilled to see the Super Blood Moon this past summer.

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Although it would be amazing if the moon were really that huge, it’s enlarged for effect  🙂

Jacob’s favorite thing to wear are his constellation pajama pants (as seen above) and he’s always asking us to point out the Big Dipper, especially after reading Touch the Brightest Star – one of his favorite interactive books, where you trace the Big and Little Dipper with your finger as part of the story. (Great book for any toddler’s bed time collection!)

I wanted a fun way to teach them the basic constellations, and ones that are easy to spot in the sky, so I came up with the following craft worksheets…

Big Dipper WorksheetLittle Dipper WorksheetCassiopeia WorksheetCygnus Worksheet

LeoPegasusOrion WorksheetCepheusGemini

Click on individual worksheet above for FREE printable, or HERE for pdf with ALL Worksheets.

First I had the boys place star stickers on the grey dots, then using the picture as reference, draw lines to create each constellation.

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After learning the constellations, the boys got creative with their worksheets – connecting the dots without stickers, outlining the constellation in all star stickers, putting other stars in the sky, tracing the letters to spell the constellations, etc. I enjoy watching them explore whatever materials I give them. It’s fun when they think outside the box and come up with new ways to do things… A great hands-on way to learn while using imagination and creativity!

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“Don’t wait for the stars to align. Reach up, rearrange them the way you want them to be. Create your own constellation.” – Pharrell Williams

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