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10 DIY Fall/Winter Decor Items Your kids Can Help You Create

10 DIY Fall/Winter Decor Items Your kids Can Help You Create

When the air turns colder and the days shorter, it’s time to find a way to entertain the kids indoors. One way to keep them occupied is by having them help create fall and winter decor items. These projects are fun, easy and educational. So shut that cold weather out and get cozy with these crafts!

Photo by Dave meier Picography

    Living Wreath

    One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is seeing all the houses in the neighborhood decked out with festive flare. Wreaths are a traditional decoration that signify the holidays. This year, instead of putting up the usual dried pine boughs, make a living wreath. Creating a living wreath is an exercise in micro gardening, as well as showing our children that we don’t always have to destroy nature to suit our needs – such as by chopping limbs off a pine tree. We can create something beautiful that also sustains life.

    Makers Kit- permission given

      Mason Herb Garden Kit

      Fresh herbs make every recipe taste better, but let’s be honest: They can be really expensive. Growing your own herbs for pennies on the dollar is a great solution. Even if you don’t have room to plant a large garden, you can grow your own herbs indoors in a mason jar.

      Your kids will love this project because they get to play with the dirt and watch it grow. Gardening indoors will teach them about making use of the space they do have and the growing cycle of edible plants.

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      kaboom pics crayons

        Homemade Candles

        Does your kid have a bunch of old crayons laying around? Turn them into candles! This colorful project teaches kids the value and joy of upcycling. Instead of tossing out old or broken toys – in this case, crayons – kids can upcycle them into something new and different. For a scented candle, add essential oils. Citrus and peppermint oils are energizing and uplift the spirits. Lavender and cedarwood oils are calming.

        Photo by Kerry Foster soap

          Handmade Soap

          Making soap is a lost art. It’s now mass-produced, and most soaps contain chemicals and dyes that are unnecessary and potentially harmful as well. Teach your kids that they can make pure soaps just like their ancestors. To make it fun, use different molds, colors and scents. Candy corn soap is the perfect craft for fall. You and your kids can even make the soap as gifts for their teachers or friends.

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          thankful tree photo by Steven Yeh

            Thankful Tree

            A thankful tree makes the perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. This vintage-inspired design combines rustic wooden disks and chalkboard pieces with a tall glass jar and mixed nuts in place of the usual river rocks or glass beads.

            Get your kids involved by having them help you write out things they are thankful for. Help them think about all the great things that happened during the year and guide them to be thankful for things that aren’t materialistic.  It’s a good way to teach them to be mindful of good experiences they have.

            maple leaf photo by Amin mat Azahar

              Maple Leaf Globe

              Peering into a maple leaf globe will take you back in time to when you were a kid playing in a big pile of fall leaves. You jumped in and threw big armfuls up in the air so the leaves would rain down on you. Like a snow globe, a maple leaf globe sets a scene inside a glass filled with water, but instead of white snowy flakes, maple leaves in vibrant colors flurry around.

              Your kid can help you pick out the tree and leaves that will go in the globe, and after it’s all put together, you can watch the leaves fall and teach your child all about the fun things you did during your childhood.

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              pipe cleaner photo by Daniel Orth

                Crystalized Snowflakes

                This project is so fun and easy the kids won’t even realize they’re getting a lesson in chemistry. With just two ingredients, you can fill your home with beautiful crystallized snowflakes. All you have to do is dip pipe cleaners in Borax overnight and crystals form on the small fibers. When you wake up in the morning, you have beautiful crystallized snowflakes.

                You don’t have to stop at just snowflakes, either. You can make hearts for Valentine’s Day or clover for St Patrick’s Day.

                birdseed ornament photo by Sxates

                  Birdseed Ornaments

                  Adorable birdseed ornaments make the perfect addition to any rustic Christmas tree or holiday decoration. Making them is fun for the whole family. When the holidays are over, have your children hang them on trees outside. They will learn the importance of helping our animal friends thrive, especially when natural food resources are scarce.

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                  scarf by saxarocks

                    Hand-Dyed Scarf

                    Hand-dyed scarves make wonderful gifts. They are a one-size-fits-all accessory that women and men alike can wear. How do you make a gift that can seem so generic seem special? Make it yourself. Creating a hand-dyed scarf is a quick and simple project that your kids will enjoy. It may not be the most expensive gift to give someone, but your children will learn that it is the thought the counts when it comes to giving.

                    To make a special scarf for someone, your child will need to learn about the recipient – their favorite color or possibly their favorite sports team if the scarf will be themed. Putting thought into what the recipient will like and then coming up with a design to suit will hold more meaning than any store-bought gift that is more expensive.

                    window clings

                      Window Clings

                      My kids love to decorate the windows with seasonal clings. Make it even more fun by creating your own window clings using cookie cutters and homemade paint. It’s really two crafts in one. First you can make the paint together, which will provide hours of fun on its own, then you can fill seasonal cookie cutters with the paint to make window clings.  Make leaves and pumpkins for fall or Christmas trees and snowflakes for winter. Your kids will learn that even the simplest things are more fun when you’re part of the process from start to finish.

                      Use the cold winter months cooped up in the house to pass along the DIY bug to your kids. Not only will they get to spend quality time with you, but they’ll also learn lessons that they can keep forever.

                      Featured photo credit: elleau via flickr.com

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                      Published on May 24, 2019

                      How to Raise a Confident Child with Grit

                      How to Raise a Confident Child with Grit

                      My husband and I facilitate a couple’s marriage and parenting group. Recently, the group discussed qualities, characteristics, and traits we wanted to see our children develop as they grow up. One term that came up that all parents seemed to upon agree as a highly valued trait was that of grit. The question from our group was:

                      “Can grit be taught to our children?”

                      The answer is, yes. Parents can help their child develop grit.

                      What is grit? Dr. Angela Duckworth is the top researcher on this subject and wrote the book Grit. She defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long term goals”. This new buzz word is popular in the adult realm, but what about our developing children? What if we could help our children develop grit as young children.

                      Grit is more crucial to success than IQ. Duckworth, through her research at Harvard, found that having grit was a better predictor for an individual’s success than IQ. This means having the smartest kid in the room doesn’t ensure any level of success in their future. They can be brilliant, but if they aren’t properly intrinsically motivated, they won’t be successful.

                      Grit determines long term success. If a child can’t pick themselves up and try again after a failure, then how are they going to be able to do it as adult?

                      What a gift it would be to our children to engage them in a manner that helps them recognize their passions, talents, and develop a persevere to purse their goals. Below are some tips on how to raise a confident child with grit.

                      1. Encouragement is Key

                      When a child wants to learn how to ride a bike, do they keep going after they fall down or do they quit after the first fall?

                      If they aren’t encouraged to get up and try again, and instead are coddled and told they can try again some other day, then they are being taught to play it safe.

                      Safe and coddled don’t exactly go hand-in-hand with building up grit. The child needs to be encouraged to try again. This can be a parent saying “you can do it, I believe in you” and “I know that even if you fall again you will try again and eventually you will get the hang of it”.

                      Encouragement to keep trying so that they can build up perseverance is very helpful in building a child’s confidence. This confidence is what will help them strike out and try again.

                      If they feel that they can’t do it or shouldn’t do it, then they won’t. The mind is a powerful thing. If a child believes that they can’t be successful in doing something, then they won’t be successful. Part of building that mentality of believing in themselves comes from encouragement from their parents, care givers, and teachers.

                      Cheer Them On

                      How many times have you heard a story of success that someone had in life that all began because someone believed in that person?

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                      A coach, a mom, a teacher can have a huge impact by believing in the child’s ability to be successful and voicing that encouragement to them. Words are powerful. Use them to build up a child, by telling them that they can do it even if they have try again and again.

                      Be their support system by being their cheerleader. Cheerleaders don’t just cheer when the team is winning. They cheer words of encouragement to keep the team going.

                      The same goes with children. We need to cheer for their successes, but also cheer for them to keep going and fighting the fight when life gets tough!

                      You Can’t Force Them

                      Keep in mind that you can’t force a child to keep trying. They have to do it themselves.

                      For example, when my daughter was learning to tie her shoes, it was a real struggle. She gave up. I couldn’t make her want to try to do it again. She had to take a break from the struggle for a few months and then try again.

                      She was more successful the second time around, because she had matured and her fine motor skills had improved. It would have been ridiculous for me to force her to practice tying her shoes for the three or four months in between, with tears and arguing taking place.

                      No, instead we took a break. She tried again later. Forcing her to learn something that she wasn’t ready to learn would have pit us against one another. That would have been a poor parenting move.

                      There are boundaries that parents can set though in some cases. For example, if your child begins an activity and wants to quit mid-season because they are terrible at the sport, you have the opportunity to keep them in the sport through the end of the season to show them that quitting is not an option.

                      Although they may not win another tennis match the rest of the season or win another swimming race all year long, finishing the commitment is important. It will help with the development of grit by teaching them to persevere through the defeat. It is character building.

                      If your child is great at all things all the time, they will not develop grit. They need to try things that challenge them. When they aren’t the best at something, or for that matter, the worst, it creates an opportunity for them feel real struggle. Real struggle builds real character.

                      2. Get Them out of Their Comfort Zone

                      My daughter wanted to try cheerleading this past fall. She has never done this activity in the past, nor is she particularly coordinated (sorry sweetie). For that matter, she couldn’t even do a cartwheel when cheer season began.

                      However, we signed up because she was so excited to become a cheerleader. I signed up to coach because there was a need for more cheer coaches. We were all-in at that point.

                      Once the season began, I quickly realized that cheerleading was far outside my daughter’s comfort zone. The idea of cheerleading was great in her mind. The reality of memorizing cheers and learning physical skills that were hard for her made the experience a struggle. She wanted to quit. I said to her “no, you were the one who wanted to do this, so we finish what we started.” I had to say this more than once. I don’t think anyone on the squad knew this was the case, because she kept at it.

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                      She kept practicing those cheers every evening. It did not come naturally to her at first, so it was uncomfortable. She always seemed to be half a beat behind the other cheerleaders, which made it very awkward and uncomfortable for her. However, letting her know that quitting mid-season was not an option made her try harder. She wanted to learn the cheers so she wouldn’t stand out on the squad as the girl who didn’t know what she is doing.

                      By the end of the season, she became a decent cheerleader. Not the best, but she was no longer half a beat behind the rest. She learned skills that were hard for her to conquer. Now that she felt success in achieving something that was uncomfortable and hard for her. She knows she has it in her to do that in other areas of life.

                      That is why it’s ok for us as parents to let our kids feel the struggle and be uncomfortable. If they don’t experience it when they are young, they will as adults, but they won’t be equipped with the perseverance and inner-strength built from years of working hard through smaller struggles as they grew up.

                      Allowing our children to struggle helps them build that skill of perseverance, so that they have the grit to achieve hard things in life that they really desire to accomplish.

                      3. Allow Them To Fail

                      Your child will fail at things in life. Let them. Do not swoop in and rescue your child from their personal failures. If they don’t fail, then they don’t have the opportunity to pick themselves up and try again.

                      If I had pulled my daughter from cheerleader once I realized that it was going to be a real struggle, she wouldn’t have experienced failure and struggle. Letting her have this small failure in life taught her lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom. She learned about the power she has within herself to try harder, to practice in order to make change happen, and to push through it even when you feel like giving up because it is embarrassing.

                      Failure is embarrassing. Learning to handle embarrassment is taking on a fear. When kids learn to do this at a young age, it is practice for adult life. They will experience failure as an adult. They will be better equipped to handle life’s disappointments and failures if they have learned to handle the fear of embarrassment and failure when they are young.

                      Practice builds up the skill. Processing and handling fear, embarrassment, and failure are skills.

                      If I had pulled my daughter from cheer and allowed her to quit, I would have taken from her the opportunity to learn how to process and handle the embarrassment and failure she was experiencing at each practice and games. She learned to keep trying and that practicing the skills would lessen the embarrassment and feelings of failure.

                      Learning the value of practice and how to preserve through the fear and failure are priceless lessons. We may want to rescue our children because we want them to be successful at the things that they do, but how will they be successful in this competitive world as adults if they are provided with only opportunities in which they succeed?

                      Failure is needed to learn to thrive. Success in adulthood does not come easy to children who are protected from failure because they haven’t built up the ability to persevere.

                      Perseverance comes when they have learned time and time again how to take the fear of embarrassment and failure head on and practice to get better.

                      4. Teach Them to Try Again

                      Encourage your child to try again. Don’t let them quit on the first try.

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                      Life is hard. If we quit the first time we tried at things, we would never amount to anything in life. We need to teach our children that trying again is simply part of life.

                      Help them to give it a go by providing encouragement and support. Offer to practice with them, provide them with tutoring or coaching if necessary — whatever it takes to get them back on the proverbial horse and trying again.

                      Break it Down

                      Sometimes failure occurs because they are trying something all at one time and they haven’t mastered the smaller components.

                      For example, a math student isn’t going to jump into calculus as their first high school math course. No, of course not. They build on their skills. They begin with basic math, then algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus to then they get to the calculus level.

                      If they are thrown into the deep end by taking on calculus before the foundation of their math skills are built, they will fail.

                      Help your child try again by breaking down what it is they are trying to achieve.

                      Going back to my cheer example… my daughter was not the best at learning the cheers when we began. It then dawned on me that we needed to break down each cheer phrase by phrase. Once we learned the phrase and movements that went with it, we could then learn the next one. Once these were learned, we could combine the phrases, practice them together, and then try to move to learn the next phrase in the cheer. It was a tedious process, but it worked.

                      Not all skills come easy for kids. Helping them learn the skill of breaking things down into manageable tasks is another way we teach them about grit. They are learning to build skills by persisting, practicing, and building upon previous experience, knowledge, and skills.

                      Grit is put into practice in childhood when they learn how to break down large tasks into smaller achievable tasks in order to build toward a greater goal.

                      5. Let Them Find Their Passion

                      Your child may be a wonderful pianist. However, if they aren’t passionate about the skill, then they likely won’t be happy or fulfilled in becoming a concert pianist.

                      It’s great to help your child discover their talents, but also let them discover what they are passionate about in life.

                      True success will come because they are passionate about the activity, not because they are the best. The best usually become that way because they are passionate first. Therefore, let your child experience a variety of activities and interests so that they can discover what they love to do.

                      6. Praise Their Efforts, Not the Outcome

                      Praising their efforts keeps them motivated and trying. If you focus on outcome, then when they fail, they will become defeated and discouraged.

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                      Focusing on the fact that they tried hard and pointing out specific ways that they did well in terms of effort will support them in trying again. When you make a habit of focusing on outcome, then failures are avoided at all costs, including taking risks.

                      Risks are needed in order to become successful. Therefore, make a habit of praising their efforts, even when the outcome is not what they had hoped and tried for, because eventually, if they keep trying their efforts will result in success.

                      7. Be a Model of Grit

                      If you are a parent or a caregiver for a child, then you are a model to that child. Children naturally look up to the adults in their life that are closest to them, especially their parents. They will look at your ability to persevere and achieve. Your grit will show.

                      Your children are watching. They may not know the term grit, but they will learn about working hard, not giving up, trying again after failure, and all that grit entails from your actions.

                      How you handle life is being watched by your children. You can work on your own grit by reading Angela Duckworth’s book Grit .

                      Develop a Growth Mindset

                      Helping your child develop a growth mindset is also helpful to your child in their development of grit. Dr. Dweck, author of Growth Mindset and researcher at Stanford, developed a theory of fixed versus growth mindset.

                      Basically, what it means is that if you have a fixed mindset, you will fear failure and easily give up. Someone with a growth mindset believes that their talents, skills, and abilities can be improved with hard work and learning. Parents and caregivers can help with the development of a growth mindset.

                        Some of the ways that a growth mindset can be developed include:

                        • Teaching your child how the brain works: neuron connections, right brain versus left brain.
                        • Teach them to set goals.
                        • Teach them to have a “can do” attitude.
                        • Teach them to develop a strategy when they want to achieve something.
                        • Teach them that mistakes are an opportunity to learn.
                        • Teach them that failure is a normal part of life.
                        • Teach them about self talk: Self Talk Determines Your Success

                        There are a great deal of activities and materials online for helping your child develop a growth mindset including these resources below (each site contains at least some free content):

                        The Bottom Line

                        Grit is not just for adults, it is something we can help our children develop. Grit is more critical to success than IQ, so we should be helping our children develop this quality early in life.

                        As a parent, being a model of grit, is one of the first ways to help our children become “gritty”.

                        Featured photo credit: Gabriela Braga via unsplash.com

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