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.”

Mermaid Valentine Printable

DIY Mermaid Valentine Printable - Mermaid Valentine's Day Card

For Valentine’s Day this year, I started by looking up some fun favors on Amazon and presenting them to the kids. Avery was super stoked about the flippy sequin bracelets I found, so we went with a Mermaid theme.

Inspired by her favorite color at the moment – GOLD, I created this super sparkly mermaid Valentine. Paired with the sequin bracelet favors and signed using my glitter pens, Avery’s definitely ready to make a splash at her school celebration!

Favor ideas to pair with this Valentine:
Mermaid Sequin Bracelet (as shown in photo above)
Mermaid Folding Paper Fans
Sequin Mermaid Tail Keychains
Mermaid Favor Assortment (Stamps, Stickers & Tattoos)
Glitter Spiral Notepad / Pencils
Mermaid Tattoos
Depending on your favor, you can tie it on with string, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or mermaid Washi tape.

To create your own Mermaid Valentine Printable, download here.
Mermaid Valent's Day Printable Card - projectsinparenting.com

Related: Unicorn Valentine Printable
DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards
Build a Robot Papercraft Valentine

“Be a mermaid and make waves.”

Unicorn Valentine Printable

Unicorn Valentine Banner

Right now Avery is OBSESSED with everything unicorn. Anytime she spots something at a store with a unicorn on it, she ogles at it like it’s a lost baby kitten and is convinced it was made for her. So to no surprise, this year we decided to create Valentine’s Day cards with this mystical creature – and just the right amount of sparkle!

Since Valentines these days usually come with a fun favor attached to them, I purchased cute unicorn fans to include with Avery’s. Some other ideas if you are interested in adding a favor (which you can either tie on, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or unicorn Washi tape)…

Based on whichever size you would like, click on the above image to download and start creating your own magical Valentines!

Related: DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards

“Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”

DIY Lion Guard Costumes

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Months ago, Jacob told me he wanted to be Kion from The Lion Guard for Halloween. To no surprise, Evan and Avery wanted to team up with him as Beshte and Ono to help defend the pride lands!

For Kion and Beshte, I used orange and grey footed pajamas from footedpajamas.com (while also scoring a 15% off coupon from Retail Me Not – deals rock!). I attached red and black craft fur that I got from Michael’s Craft store (also available online at Amazon or Walmart) for hair, and used fleece fabric to sew on ears and a tail.

For Beshte, I designed a mask and created this TEMPLATE to make it into a fabric mask using felt squares and Stitch Witchery. Seriously, this stuff is AMAZING! All you have to do is cut the Stitch Witchery to shape and iron your fabrics, bonding them together – no sewing required! (Note: I cut the eyes out after bonding all the materials together to make sure the fabric was even)

For Ono, I purchased a white leotard from Amazon and created wings and a tail, using fleece fabric (Fleece is great for this purpose since it does not fray at all). The leotard fabric and skinny arms were a bit difficult to work with, so I chose to use a combination of Velcro and sewing to attach the wings. To give the tail a more 3 dimensional look, I sewed in pipe cleaners between the two tail fabrics.

diy-ono-costume-wings-and-tailSimilar to Beshte – I designed an Ono mask for Avery and created a TEMPLATE so I could make a fabric mask, using felt squares and Stitch Witchery.

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To complete their costumes, The Lion Guard needs their badge of honor – so again I used my trusty Stitch Witchery to fuse the symbol (from felt squares) to each costume’s left arm. Tip: After printing out this TEMPLATE, I cut out the shapes with an X-ACTO knife, and chalked out a mirror image as a stencil.

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Now my little protectors of the pride lands are ready to roar on Halloween!

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Related: See Paw Patrol and Ghostbusters costumes.

 

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”

DIY Children’s Artwork Canvas Tote Bag

DIY Childrens Artwork Canvas Tote Bag

Homemade gifts are the sweetest and it doesn’t get much more adorable than children’s artwork – so this year for Mother’s Day, I worked with my sister in-laws to have each of the 8 grandchildren create a special piece for their Nana.

Each drawing/painting was created in a square format. I then took a photo of each masterpiece (Note: For best results, shoot outside in full sunlight), and used Diptic to group the photos into two sets of four with equal dimensions. This app also makes it super easy to create a fun colorful border, complimenting the kids’ artwork.


After combining the artwork into two collages, I printed each as a MIRROR IMAGE onto Fabric Transfer Sheets, then ironed them onto each side of a Canvas Tote Bag. (I stress “mirror image” because, regardless that it’s clearly on the instructions, I have forgotten this step on numerous occasions – trust me, you’ll want to save yourself the frustration)

Voila! Straight from a child’s heart and imagination… A one-of-a-kind, reusable tote, made especially for Nana. 🙂

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

To all the amazing moms out there – you are loved and appreciated today and every day… Happy Mother’s Day!!

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Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page Free Printable

It’s time to celebrate our real life superheroes – teachers! With Teacher Appreciation Day just around the corner, I wanted to come up with something the boys could give to their teachers at preschool. I thought it would be nice if they had a hand in creating it with their own personal touch – so I designed a coloring page with an option to add a statement about their teacher/classroom.

Click HERE for Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page. (Also great for nannies and child care providers)
Click HERE for Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page with Questionnaire.
Click HERE to see my latest post and NEW coloring page with full page questionnaire.

Thank you to all the hard-working teachers! I appreciate your dedication to making a difference, while inspiring curiosity and knowledge that ultimately shapes our children’s future.

“It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”

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Happy Father's Day Free Printable Questionnaire, All About Me - projectsinparenting.com Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book Banner dinosaur t-rex valentine banner

Bunny Silhouette Painting

Bunny Silhouette Painting

With Easter right around the corner, I decided to create bunny silhouette paintings with the kids. A great way to kick-off spring, and capture the beautiful upcoming season.

I started by printing out a bunny silhouette from Clip Art Queen on card stock, then cut along the edge with an x-acto blade (not including the tail), and taped the stencil to a blank sheet of paper. I mixed pastel pink, blue and yellow onto a tray for the kids, then they painted over the stencil using a sponge and/or their hands.  After removing the stencil, their paintings looked pretty adorable as-is. But for a little extra fun and individuality – we added a tail, eyes, a nose, and mouth… I’m not sure what it is with kids and googly eyes, but they can’t get enough!

The kids enjoyed this craft enough that I’ll definitely try it again with other silhouettes. A fun craft for all ages!

Tape Resistant Valentine Painting 

My niece, Brynn is a huge fan of our art room and loves when I have projects planned. I knew she was coming over so, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I prepared a craft to be given as a Valentine’s gift for the grandparents (They are in the mail, Papa and Nana!)… We created tape resistant paintings – a great way to let toddlers slosh paint around, channeling their inner artist, while ending up with a beautifully unique masterpiece every time!

STEP ONE: Apply painter’s tape to paper (I highly recommend using Frog Tape – This product has consistently outperformed all other brands I’ve tried).

STEP TWO: Put on a smile.

STEP THREE: Paint to your heart’s content. 

STEP FOUR: Peel off painter’s tape and appreciate the masterpiece!Tape Resistant Valentine Painting

“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tape Resistant Valentine Painting - Projects In Parenting