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Homemade Gifts for Teachers

Many children want to give their teacher a gift for the holidays. While this is a great idea and one that should be encouraged, a “World’s Best Teacher” mug or glass is not always the best choice. Just about every teacher will tell you that they already have several of these. So, what should you give them to show your appreciation for all their hard work? The options may be a little closer to the heart for most.

Gift cards

Starbucks Gift Card

It's hard to go wrong with a gift card. These can be purchased at local grocery stores for just about dollar amount imaginable. And getting one from their favorite stores, coffee shops, or teacher supply outlets will go a long way to show that you care.

Homemade gifts and cards

We have found that many teachers love to receive anything homemade or crafted by their students. Your child’s artwork, a handwritten card, or a crafted Christmas ornament with your child’s name and the year on it are items that teachers can keep year after year to remember their students and all the lives they have touched along the way.

School supplies for all

Another great idea is to get them much-needed school supplies. Many teachers pay for classroom materials like lined paper, pencils, sticky notes, pens, erasers, and much more themselves. So, gifts of this nature are often much needed and will always be appreciated. If you don’t know what to get exactly a gift card to bookstores and teacher supply stores is a great place to start.

Donations in their name

For schools or teachers who aren’t in need of such items for their classrooms, they often suggest giving donations in their name instead. Find out what causes your teacher supports or cares about and donate either time, money, or specific items to that cause using your teacher’s name. This will show your teacher that you care and are willing to help others who may be less fortunate and also gives that teacher an opportunity to be a part of that giving.

Thank you letters or notes

Sometimes the simplest of gifts can be the most precious. The job of a teacher can often be a thankless one that is taken for granted. Writing a letter or short note can be just the thing to brighten their day and make all their hard work this year worth it. A heartfelt “thank you” can say much more even the most expensive gift.

Ask just about any experienced teacher what their favorite gifts over the years have been and they will tell you about ones that came from the heart. The ones that really mean something are ones that were well thought out, painstakingly constructed by little hands, and given out of honor and a heart of appreciation, not from obligation. This year, instead of another coffee mug, give your teacher something that matters a little more.

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Wright Flyer Aircraft model

On this day, December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright took their first or maiden flight in an aircraft they had designed together. And while it is unknown if this was the first actual flight ever made in history, it was done in the first ever patented aircraft, the Wright Flyer. The brothers went on to make further inventions and additions to aviation technology, leading the way for all future aviators.

History of Wright Brothers’ Day

President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the one responsible for creating this codified holiday. As such, it is commemorated each year and marked on government calendars but is not classified an actual government holiday. President Eisenhower declared on September 24, 1959, that December 17th should forevermore be celebrated, honoring the experiments of the Wright brothers and all others who have contributed to aviation history and technology.

How to Celebrate Wright Brothers’ Day

Wright Brother’s inventions

Since that time, every U. S. President has made an annual proclamation, honoring the Wright brothers and their endeavors in flight as well as inviting all Americans to do the same. Furthermore, Washington D. C. holds the Wright Brothers Dinner each year where the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy is awarded

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where that maiden flight was taken also celebrates the day with similar festivities, as does Dayton, Ohio, the brothers’ hometown. Many schools are known are to hold special activities that focus on aviation and its history, some even take field trips to the closest aviation museums. Other institutions or programs hold various luncheons and dinners to honor these pioneers of flight.

Individually, many decide to celebrate in their own way by going to museums that focus on aviation, going to the airport, attending air shows, taking a flight, or even taking flight lessons. It may seem to you that this old looking plane the Wright brothers flew wasn’t all that great, especially compared to what airplanes and crafts that are flown nowadays. However, you have to remember that at the time, there was nothing else like this. This was the cutting edge of technology, a dream of the future at the time.

Can you imagine what aviation would look like today if these two brothers hadn’t created the Wright Flyer and made that flight? While their craft is not the only kind that was manufactured, nor were they the only ones experimenting with such technology, their efforts led the way for inventions and aviation leaders all over the globe. This day is meant to remember and honor those efforts, understanding that actions and discoveries made today will someday be a part of history.

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Girl says thank you

In this age of entitlement and materialism, it can be difficult to feel that your child appreciates or is grateful for anything. However, there are some ways to try and curb this unattractive fad in your home and raise children that not only say thank you but also mean it.

Be a Model of Gratitude

It’s a proven fact that children learn from experiences. The same is true when it comes to their attitudes. If you as a parent are continually showing an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness, your children are likely to do the same. However, if you spend a lot of time talking about or making money, shopping, watching TV, etc., you are showing them that you value materials more than thankfulness. They are likely to follow your example.

Reduce Exposure to Contrasting Models

You are not the only person who your child learns from. Materialistic models are found by the multitudes on TV and online. If your child is exposed to these models on a regular basis, they will begin to emulate their ideas and values, ones that you may not want in your home. It is suggested that children 2 and up have no more than two hours of screen time per day (TV, computer, video game, and smartphone included).

And when they do come into contact with those values be there to talk about the intentions of the ad and how unrealistic many of them are. This will help to discourage your child’s desire to be that way or want a certain product.

Encourage Intrinsic Values

Happy Family

Research has shown that intrinsic values starkly contrast those that are taught by materialism. This means that if you teach your child to understand and appreciate ideas like having good and healthy relationships, trying to leave the world a better place, and following your own interests and curiosity for personal growth they will be less likely to think selfishly about themselves and what they want and do not have.

Expose them to Suffering and Beauty

When your children are allowed to see true suffering and beauty, they begin to see what they have in comparison and be grateful. Take your child to the local soup kitchen and serve a meal, volunteer your family for mission projects where your children will see others in need. You will be amazed at what they learn from those experiences.

True and deep beauty can have much of the same effect. Museums and nature are great places to start when looking for beauty. This can open their eyes to some of the vastness of the world and life. Typically, this sense of awe and wonder can start a conversation about gratefulness and contentment.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the many advertisements screaming for our attention and that of our children. However, we must remember that the impact of those may have a resounding effect on our youngsters, one that isn’t very desirous. Try at least one of these tips in your home and see how your child is affected. Start small and work your way up. You may just find that your child is genuinely more appreciative.

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How To Teach Persistence

At some point, every student finds a subject, an activity, or a situation that they no longer want to continue. It could be the new book they have been assigned in class or maybe the algebra problems they were sent home with. Maybe it’s a sport or musical activity. But we can’t let them simply quit. This is their education and it's too important. A little persistence can go a long way, but how you can get your middle or high school student to understand that and put it to good use?

Don’t Rush to the Rescue

As parents, it is difficult to see our children struggling, no matter what it is. And often times we find it tempting to come to their rescue and make it all better. However, that doesn’t teach them persistence. We all learn by trial and error. That means we have to give them a chance to fail and succeed on their own.

So instead of doing it for them, work through it together and ask them to do the thinking. If they never learn to do it on their own, they will never be able to solve their own problems. Life, in general, isn’t always fair or easy. Letting them work through these situations will teach them to persevere even if life isn’t being gentle.

Don’t Rush to the Rescue

Talk About it

Sometimes the best way to help them understand is to just talk about it with them. Hearing about the importance of persistence often can greatly benefit your child. If they are constantly hearing phrases such as, “I can do it,” “I won’t quit,” or “It’s always hardest the first time,” it’s much easier for them face problems with your positive voice in their heads. You might think of a family persistence mantra to say often, such as “Mistakes won’t get us down.”

Give them a Gentle Nudge

Pushing your child can be difficult for both parents and children, but it can make a world of difference. As creatures of habit, many of us, including our students, tend to stay in our comfort zone without straying too far. However, you can help your child by pushing them to try just a little harder, practice a little longer, and make it a little more challenging.

The key is to not push too hard or make expectations too great. A child will easily get discouraged and the lesson will be lost to them if are never able to reach your goals. A simple kitchen timer can work wonders here. For example, instead of only practicing their band instrument for 10 minutes, add another five minutes. And when they complain or grumble about it, remind them of their past achievements and give them encouragement.

When your child is feeling defeated and begins to say he can’t, make sure to remind him of all the times that he has. Use your family persistence mantra and give her a little nudge in the right direction. Your child needs to hear this from you and will benefit greatly from these persistence lessons that will last a lifetime.

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Pouring Water into Cup

Not many children or teens actually enjoy doing chores, in fact neither do many adults. However, these are activities are a must and so we do them. For teens, they can be an invaluable way to teach some very crucial life lessons, as well as prepare them for life as an adult. Below are a few common household chores most teens are very capable of completing on a daily or weekly basis.

Do Their Own Laundry

This is fairly simple. Teach them load and use the washer and dryer in your home. Washing their own laundry, including towels and sheets will help them to prepare for college life. This should also include folding and/or putting away the laundry, and even using an iron.

Sweep and Vacuum

They aren’t too young to walk behind the vacuum in the living room or sweep the kitchen with a broom. Depending on your teen and your typical cleaning schedule, you could have them do one room at a time or make it a larger project.

Take Out the Trash

Most families have a weekly trash pick up day. Your teen is old enough to go room to room emptying trash baskets and collecting them to be taken out each week. While this helps keep the house tidy, it also serves to teach your child some responsibility about making sure tasks are completed before a specific due date.

Tidy the Bathroom

You know that toothpaste residue that the sink always seems to be caked in? Your teen is now old enough to scrub it out himself. This is part of teaching them to pick up after themselves. They can also clean counters, mirrors, and even the toilet.

Take Care of Pets

If your family includes a few four-legged members, having your teen clean the litter box or feed and water them are simple tasks they can handle. You might even allow them to take them for walks or give them a batch occasionally.

Washing Dishes

Washing Dishes

Now is the perfect age for your teen to learn how to load, run, and unload the dishwasher. You can help them out by completing part of that task or give them the entire daily task, depending on your teen. They can also learn to scrub pots, pans, and items that might not be dishwasher appropriate.

Making Dinner

At this age, your teen should be perfectly able to prepare some simple and well-balanced meals. This does not mean mac-n-cheese out of a box. This will ensure that your teen doesn’t starve when he moves out of your home for college. Spaghetti is a good starting point and is easy to master.

Start instilling these life lessons in your teen today and soon you will find that not only do you have a shorter to-do list but your child will have learned some responsibility and be well on their way to a successful adulthood.

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Thanksgiving Games

Thanksgiving is a fabulous holiday. It’s an excuse to get together with your family and friends to eat, spend time with all that you are thankful for. However, most family Thanksgiving dinners are, well, just that. They are dinners and sometimes a little on the boring side. And for those of us with children, it can seem even more boring. This year, why not make it a little different? Here are some family-friendly activities and games for every age and to put a fun spin on your large gatherings.

Traffic Yam

Supplies: metal spoons, uncooked yams, and painter’ tape (or anything to make a straight line on the floor)

Each player is given a yam and a metal spoon. The yam is placed on the floor on one end of the room. The players must then race to get their yam across the room to your tape line and back to the starting line. The yam can only be moved with the spoon. No hands. Whoever gets across the finish line first wins. Players can play defense as well and push other people’s yams.

The Feather Float

Supplies: Small, light feathers

This one is super simple and can be played individually or on teams. Each player gets a feather. Players must blow their feather in the air, keeping it afloat for as long as possible. You could also give a time limit and the players have to keep their feather in the air for that amount of time.

The Mayflower

Thanksgiving Games

Supplies: small corks, fake flowers, Large under the bed containers, plastic straws (optional)

Fill the under the bed container with water. Attach a fake flower to the corks and give one to every player. To play, each person must place their cork in the water at one end of the container and then blow it to the other end. The first boat or cork to reach the other end wins. Players can use a plastic straw to blow if they would like.

Corn to the Copia

Supplies: empty cornucopia, small fake corn, blindfold

This is a team game with two players on each team. One player stands on one side of the room and gets blindfolded and the empty cornucopia. The other stands about ten or so feet away and has a bucket of the fake corn. The player with the corn must hike the corn like a football to their teammate with the cornucopia. The idea is for the blindfolded player to catch the corn as it is hiked.

Try out a few of these ideas for your Thanksgiving gathering this year to make things a little more fun and encouraging for all. From all of us here at Best Brains, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Make A Gift Day

In case you hadn’t realized, Christmas is almost here. A time spent with family and friends, eating your favorites dishes and exchanging gifts. When it comes to those exchanged gifts, the goal is usually to give something heartfelt, something that will be appreciated, and something that shows the recipient just how much they mean to you. Nothing does this quite like a handmade gift. It's also a great way to maybe save some money or make use of old and/or forgotten items. And then there is always that gift you forgot to get and now have to improvise for.

History of Make A Gift Day

This is an unofficial national holiday, which means that it is pretty much celebrated nationally on the same day every year but no one really knows who came up with the idea or when it came to be and no documentation of it can be found in presidential proclamations or congressional records. However, it makes sense for this holiday to be around this time, as Christmas is just around the corner and the gift-giving season is in full swing.

With that being said, handmade gifts have been a huge success for years, especially before the time of commercialized stores and ready-made products. For hundreds of years, people always made their own gifts, not to mention everything else. If you wanted to give your sister a new dress for Christmas or your brother a new toy, you had to make it yourself. This is a day to bring that back a bit and to get in touch with your creative side, even if you don’t think you have many crafting skills. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

How to Celebrate

Homemade Gifts

There are so many countless ways to celebrate and enjoy this holiday. The idea is to just get out there and try. It doesn’t matter what you make or create. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach your children about the gift of giving to others and how much a heartfelt, homemade gift can mean. So, get together with your children and make something.

It could be as simple as a handwritten card or letter, a cupcake, or a batch of cookies for their teacher or grandparents. Start small and work your way up. Make a collage using some of their art projects from the past year or a personalized mug with their picture or artwork on it. There are so many options and ideas to choose from and the sky is really the limit. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the most beautiful creation in the makers’ eyes, the recipient of such a gift will absolutely love it.

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Group of Children’s

Whether you have children or not, it's nearly impossible to see that they are our future. In just a few short years, those that are right now playing tag with their friends in the schoolyard or learning to tie their shoes and button up their shirts will be leading our nations, teaching in our schools, and tending the sick and dying. They will be in charge of making important decisions, leading their own children, and making the world a better place. So why shouldn’t we celebrate them? This day is made to honor all that they are right now and all they can be.

History of Universal Children’s Day

In 1954, the General Assembly of the United Nations first announced this day. They had two goals in mind. First, it is meant to encourage children to spend time together; learning from one another, getting to know each other, and understanding their differences, races, and religions. It is from this learning and understanding of each other that peace is built upon.

Secondly, this day is meant to bring awareness to the problems that face today’s children in governments worldwide. If we can change someone’s mind or allow them to see children who are struggling with certain issues, maybe changes can be made to better their future and the future of the world.

Since its inception, this holiday has served many honorable causes such as making sure children everywhere are given a good education and access to schools. It as also helped the commitment to stopping HIV/AIDS and other diseases that all too often affect children.

How to Celebrate This Day?

How to Celebrate Universal Children’s Day

While the United Nations has announced this day to be on November 20th every year, almost every nation celebrates this holiday on a different day. For example, in Cuba, it is held on the third Sunday of July, in South Sudan they celebrate “Children’s Day” on December 23rd, and in Poland on June 1st. Nearly every country has their own established day to celebrate the joys and gifts of children, however, the goal is same everywhere: to promote peace and concern for the future of our world through our children.

Some towns and areas may hold large festivals, while others celebrate in a much more informal and private way. Many simply spend the day with their children or the children who most influence their life.

If you have children of your own, this is a good day to spend with them, enjoying their presence, doing something they enjoy, and making memories together. It won’t be long before these young and care-free individuals will be grown and making independent choices without your help or guidance. Use this day to teach them of other cultures, environments, and different parts of the world, so they are better prepared for their future and all the wonders it may hold.

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I Love to Write Day

Writing is a huge part of education. During your child’s academic career, they will have written tens of thousands of words. These may be simple answers to everyday questions. They may be poems, short stories, letters, essays, and/or and thesis papers. And for school purposes, most do not like the task of completing them.

However, if you can instill in your child a love of writing or even a mild tolerance, you will be amazed at what they can create. I Love to Write Day is to use this and expand it. While it's not every child’s dream to write for a living, everyone does have dreams they want to see unfold. Many times, writing them down helps to solidify those aspirations and make them come to life.

History of I Love to Write Day

This day was started in 2002 by John Riddle, a non-fiction and self-help, Delaware-based author. John has been writing for over thirty years, with a total of 34 published books in his name. As many authors do, he has a great love of writing and the creativity it creates. Also, like many authors and writing-lovers, John would like others to take part in and learn to enjoy his passion as well.

That is why he created this day. It is a call to action; however, it is not meant to be overwhelming or too audacious. John stated that his goal for this day is to simply get all peoples from all ages and walks of life writing. It can be any length, any genre, and anywhere. Just something that puts your thoughts onto paper or in a computer and gets you writing. Who knows, this could be the start of your New York Times bestseller.

How to Celebrate the Day?

History of I Love to Write Day

Many different organizations including community centers, churches, schools, and even stores celebrate this day and use it to strengthen a child’s skills in writing and putting their thoughts into words.

Celebrating this day for yourself and your children is just as simple as it sounds. Write something. Don’t put limitations on it, such as length, style, or genre. Don’t think too hard about it, just write. Start a journal, write a poem, a letter, or a simple greeting or thank you card for your child’s teacher.

And don’t worry if it doesn’t sound amazing. Everyone has to start somewhere. J.K. Rowling didn’t imagine everything in her Harry Potter series in one writing session. She didn’t submit her work and get immediate approval. And she didn’t become a world-renown writer overnight.

If you or your child has big dreams, they will take time and effort before they may come to light. But the time to start is now, with just a line or two. Get those creative juices flowing. Before you know it, you may just have a masterpiece in your hands.

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