The last seven days of January can provide you with some fun activities for you and your child. Not only can you have some fun with the holidays and observances during this week, but you and your child also have the opportunity to learn something new. For example, some schools these days are eliminating the teaching of cursive writing. Now that might seem like a great thing for those gifted kids with nearly illegible handwriting, but it can also be a problem. National Handwriting Day is a day to learn about why handwriting is a good thing and what can happen when kids no longer learn it.
Your child can learn something during this week, too. She can learn about compliments and encouragement, and she can learn about kazoos and music. Kazoos are fun, too! Speaking of fun, how about some fun drawing dinosaurs on Draw a Dinosaur Day or working some puzzles. And imagine the fun the whole family can have on Backwards Day.
National Handwriting Day
I confess that my handwriting is atrocious, and I fully understand the frustration some kids feel when their fingers can’t keep up with their ideas. Typing is so much better! But what are we losing when we don’t write by hand? It’s bad enough that schools stopped teaching penmanship; now many are no longer teaching cursive writing. Sure, typing is faster and infinitely neater, but why not spend the day (or longer) working with handwriting? One way to do this is just to write for the sake of writing. The goal for the day is just to practice writing skills, not to express any particular ideas. You can make it fun. Just encourage your child to write in cursive, making letters anyway he wants. Don’t focus on how the letters look. Try backhand writing (slanting left rather than right). Try writing with the non-dominant hand. Make the writing loopy. Make it straight. Just have fun!
- About National Handwriting Day
- 7 Ways to Celebrate National Handwriting Day
- Poor Hand Writing of Gifted Children
- What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades
- How Handwriting Trains the Brain
National Compliment Day
A simple act of kindness can make the difference in a person’s day – or even in their life. One of the simplest acts of kindness is to pay a compliment to someone. It could be a family member, a friend, a classmate, or a neighbor. It might even be a compliment paid to a stranger (although this is not something to be encouraged in young children). Perhaps it’s that we don’t hear compliments very often or we don’t feel some of the compliments are sincere, or perhaps we have been taught to be humble – whatever the reason, some of us have no problem paying compliments, but have a hard time accepting one comfortably.
- How To Give And Receive Compliments (video)
- How to Gracefully Accept a Compliment
- 10 Compliments Your Kids Need to Hear
Toad Hollow Day of Encouragement
Remember Mr. Toad from Toad Hollow? This holiday is based on stories about Toad Hollow. Ralph Morrison, author of the stories, said that Toad Hollow could be found on in one’s heart. On this day, then, we want to open our hearts and encourage and support others. Not only should WE open our hearts, we should also encourage our children to open theirs and encourage others.
- What Is Toad Hollow Day of Encouragement?
- How Can I Encourage My Shy Child? (But don’t confuse shyness with introversion! They aren’t the same.)
- 9 Ways to Teach Kids Kindness
- 14 Little Ways to Encourage Kindness
National Kazoo Day
I can remember as a child marching around the house with my brothers playing my homemade kazoo. It was made out of a comb and wax paper and was my first musical instrument. No lessons or practice was necessary. I could jump right in and play along with my favorite songs – or play music on my own. Kazoos are an excellent way to introduce kids to music.
Not only are they inexpensive and easy to play, but they also can be lots of fun to make. It’s not just about wax paper and combs these days!
- The Kazoo: An Easy and Inexpensive Introduction to Music (Not my idea to put a picture of a kid drumming on pots to illustrate kazoos.)
- Exploring Sound: Making a Kazoo
- Make your own kazoos and flazoots (The flazoot is a flute version of a kazoo!)
- How A Kazoo Makes Sounds
1. Thomas Paine Day (aka Free Thinkers Day) This is one of my favorite observances. Today is the birthday of Thomas Paine, who was born in 1737. If you know anything about Paine, you’ll know why this day is also known as Free Thinkers Day. Paine was one of the most influential writers of his time, spreading the philosophy of the Enlightenment in works like “Common Sense.” The philosophy was radically different from any other of the time and shaped the course of history as it contributed to the ideas that led to the American and French Revolutions. Encourage your child today -and every day – to be a free thinker. That means not accepting what everyone else thinks just because it’s the main thought of the day. Instead, encourage your child to learn about Thomas Paine, challenge arbitrary authority, question the status quo (whatever it might be), and construct logical and reasonable arguments against ingrained behavior.
- About Thomas Paine Day
- How to teach your child to be a free thinker
- Ten ways public school destroys free thinking
- How to Promote Creative Thinking
- 6 Biographies of Thomas Paine for Kids
2. National Puzzle Day
What gifted child doesn’t love a good puzzle? When we think “puzzle,” most of us think of jigsaw puzzles. But those are just one kind of puzzle. A puzzle is something that gives our brains a workout, regardless of what kind of puzzle it is. (No wonder gifted kids love puzzles.) It could be jigsaw puzzles, but it could also be logic problems and other brain teasers.. Today is a great day to have your child work some puzzles, and maybe find some new ones.
- Riddle Me This! Celebrate National Puzzle Day
- Puzzle Crafts
- Fun Puzzles for Gifted Children:
From floor to flat to 3D
- Renew Your Child’s Interest in Those Old and Easy Jigsaw Puzzles
- Brain Teaser Manipulative Puzzles for Kids
Draw a Dinosaur Day
One of my son’s favorite topics when he was little was dinosaurs. Like many young children, he was interested in dinosaurs, but the topic became an obsession. He read constantly about dinosaurs. We actually ran out of books to check out at our local library and had to travel to other library branches to find some he hadn’t read. Library visits were critical as I couldn’t possibly have been able to afford all the books he wanted to read! I never taught him about these creatures. He taught me. By the time he was 5, he was telling me all about dinosaurs I’d never heard of before, like the micropachycephelosaurus. If only there had been a Draw a Dinosaur Day when he was young. He would have been in childhood heaven. If you have a little dino lover at home, encourage him or her to draw some dinosaurs. Just be sure to stress that the pictures don’t have to be perfect. They can be “expressive.” Spend some time this day looking some of the dinosaur pictures kids have drawn, too.
- Draw a Dinosaur Day from Tumblr (post your child’s drawings here!)
- Drawings of Dinosaurs for Draw a Dinosaur Day
- Draw-a-Saurus: Everything You Need to Know to Draw Your Favorite Dinosaurs (book)
You just know this is a day that appeals to kids, and maybe especially gifted kids. It can really fire up their imaginations. There are so many fun things to do on this day: put clothes on backwards, give greetings backwards (goodbye for hello, etc.), eat dessert before a meal, eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. I bet if you asked your child for more ideas for Backwards Day, you’d get a lot more. If your child likes to write, ask him or her to write a story or poem about a backward day.