Turn Playtime into a Volunteer Opportunity!

I’ve written about it before, but this is by far the easiest and most fun way to volunteer your time as a family!  It helps teach your children that their opinions are valuable and that volunteering does not have to be boring.   Volunteering to map playgrounds encourages you as a family to engage in play, explore new playgrounds and communicate in new ways.  So, if you are heading out to a playground or park today, consider snapping some pictures and adding it to the Map of Play.

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Put a Playground on the Map:  The Map of Play is a community generated play space finder and depends on volunteers to put playgrounds on the map. This is the ultimate family volunteer opportunity and perfect for children of any age. All you need to do to volunteer is sign up for an account on the Map of Play website. When you go to a new playground or park, snap some pictures and then ask your kids for their review of the space. Each time you add a play space to the map, you are helping other people find a great place to play!

via Do-Gooder Kids Activities.

The Power of Thank You

SONY DSCIf you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Josie donated her Chores For Charity earnings in March to KaBoom!  Well, her mommy had a terrible case of Procrastinitis and finally sent in her donation a couple weeks ago.   Yesterday, the postman delivered a letter addressed to Josie and she could hardly control her excitement.  We read it together as a family and I have to say that she has been beaming with pride about it ever since!  She is so excited that she helped to make a playground and the Thank You Note addressed to her was the perfect reminder.  It will definitely go into her memory box.

Of course, Josie was excited to get mail.  But, I think the fact that it was a Thank You card addressed to her was meaningful and really made her day.  So, my friends, don’t underestimate the power of a thank you.  Go forth and spread gratitude, thanks and goodness!

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Chores For Charity – Our Very Own March Madness

Dust Bunnies are no match for a girl and her Dustbuster.

Dust Bunnies are no match for a girl and her Dustbuster.

March was the first month of Chores for Charity in our house and, truth is, it roared in like a lion but forgot to go out like a lamb.  Let’s just say we are still “adjusting” to having a chore schedule.  I did not live up to my potential as the “Chore Enforcer” and it seems that the word chore can still induce a “drop to the floor and flail around like a fish out of water” kind of tantrum.  But, we are adjusting and things are getting better.  Getting Josie to make her bed is not like pulling teeth anymore.  And, we have discovered that she loves to use the Dustbuster.  Like most everything on the good planet Earth, Chores For Charity is evolving and that is a good thing.

More importantly, I think the concept behind Chores For Charity is sinking in.   Josie talks often about how she is going to help build a playground, which is usually accompanied by her saying, “This is so cool Mom!”  She is enjoying the idea of doing good for others and that is truly what this project is about.  An added benefit of this project is that Josie is learning to count money – it’s a real life math lesson!  During March, Josie earned $19.61 for KaBOOM! 

That said, we are going to change some things up.  Our chore chart had to change!  So, we are moving to a weekly sticker chart for chores that a friend of mine recommended.  It is more kid-friendly and the pictures make it clear to her what she needs to do.  I’ve also decided to add rewards for her – if she earns 25 stickers in a week, then she gets to choose one reward card.  The rules still apply – if she throws a tantrum, she doesn’t get a sticker but still needs to do the chore.  Also, chores on the weekend are not mandatory.  She can earn stickers for doing her chores but she doesn’t have to do them.  Our schedules are so unpredictable on the weekend that it really made it difficult to get everything done.   With these changes, I think Chores For Charity will be more enjoyable for everyone in the house!

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Stay tuned to learn which charity we selected to be April’s beneficiary!  It was inspired by our recent trip to Washington, DC and we can’t wait to tell you about it.

KaBOOM! had Josie at Hello

child holster

child holster (Photo credit: ryankent)

When it came time to choose our Chores For Charity beneficiary for March,  I initially had two options to present to Josie, but KaBOOM! had her at hello.  There is not a single 3 year old on the planet who would not love this mission:

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children.

Our mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, we envision a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

Top Ten Things I Love About KaBOOM!

  1. KaBOOM! is dedicated to saving play for America’s children.  What a fun mission!  Enough said.
  1. Through a special initiative, KaBOOM! is raising money to build playgrounds in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy in coastal New Jersey and New York.  I ♥ the Jersey Shore.
  1. They are a 4Star Charity on Charity NavigatorKaBOOM! spends 84.8% of revenue on program expenses.  According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity is considered highly efficient when they spend 75% or more on program expenses.  I love a charity with good financial practices!
  1. The Map of Play initiative encourages volunteerism among children and a “get out and play” mentality.  The concept is simple.  Visit a playground, snap some pictures, upload a review and it is entered into a database of playgrounds.  How cool is this?  You can volunteer and help this initiative by going out and playing with your kids.
  1. KaBOOM! involves community members in their playground projects, empowering local residents and giving them a vested interest in maintaining the playspace. One of the biggest tenets of community development is that you must have buy-in.  KaBOOM! gets buy-in.
  1. According to the website,  KaBOOM! has built, opened and improved 14,232 playgrounds since its founding 15 years ago.    In 2011 alone, they built or improved 1,375.  Pretty spectacular.
  1. Michelle Obama endorses their missionTo some this may not be a big deal, but I am crushing on her big time and think it is awesome.  How can you not love this woman?  She is always dressed fashionably, is smart, accomplished and has taken on childhood obesity and physical fitness as her cause.  Yep, I love her.
  1. In addition to direct construction of playscapes, KaBOOM! offers grants to communities to build new playgrounds or enhance existing ones.  Let’s face it, KaBOOM! cannot get into every corner of the country as quickly as is needed.  But, they offer opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals and community groups to kickstart a playground project in their neighborhoods.
  1. The effects of play in a child’s life are real. Kids who play are healthier and less likely to be obese. Physical play leads to stronger academic achievement.   Play helps children develop strong social skills.  Need I say more?
  1. KaBOOM! is giving children the gifts of memories.   I have distinct memories of playing on the school playground as a child.  I can still feel the burning on the back of my legs as I conquered the metal slide in the middle of summer.  I remember crawling through the jungle gym made out of recycled tires and the blackness of my fingertips when I was finished.  I’ve never forgotten the sense of accomplishment when I crossed the monkey bars for the first time all by myself.  Every child should have memories like this.  And KaBOOM! is working to make that happen.

So, what do you think?  If you love play as much as I do, help spread the word about KaBOOM! by sharing this post with your friends.   And, while you are at it, share your favorite play memories in the comments section below.

Do you remember:

The feeling of sliding down a hot metal slide?

English: Playground slide, metal Deutsch: Spie...

English: Playground slide, metal Deutsch: Spielplatzrutsche aus Metall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feeling like you could reach the clouds as you flew through the air on a swing?

Swinging

Swinging (Photo credit: Jim (jaytay))

Crossing the monkey bars for the first time?

Playground

Playground (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Making friends at the playground?

First time holding hands.

First time holding hands. (Photo credit: cproppe)