Let’s Make A Memory
Gloria Gaither & Shirley Dobson
White or light-colored construction paper Crayons
An iron and an ironing board
• Collect strong leaves without holes or flaws. (Green leaves are usually strong and not easily torn.)
• With bright crayons, carefully color the outer side of each leaf.
• Lay the construction paper on an ironing board. Arrange the leaves on top of it, with the colored sides face down on the paper.
• Iron the leaves with a medium-to-hot iron. (You can iron through a sheet of waxed paper if you prefer not to iron directly onto the leaves.)
• Peel the waxed paper (if you used any) and the leaves from the paper. A crayoned print will be left on the construction paper.
• Have fun decorating a wall, bulletin board or bedroom door with these natural art pieces—or turn them into note paper or attractive gift wrap!
An iron and an ironing board
• Collect brightly colored leaves of different sizes or shapes.
• Make identical picture frames from two sheets of construction paper. Cut a rectangle, square, oval, circle or more ornate design from the center of each sheet. Trim the outer edges to whatever shape you desire.
• Cut a piece of waxed paper large enough so that, when folded double, it is larger than the cut-out center of the construction paper frame.
• Place one or two leaves inside the folded waxed paper.
• Iron with a medium-to-hot iron until the waxed paper layers are sealed to each other around the leaves.
• Insert the sealed sheet between the two paper frames, and glue the edges of the frames together.
• Tape the completed “stained-glass leaves” to your windows, or hang them in a selected place in your home.
The Night Before Halloween
• Place a candle and a small amount of dry ice inside a carved-out pumpkin. (The ice will release a spooky vapor.) An adult should handle these to avoid the danger of a child burning himself from the ice or the candle. Also, set an eerie atmosphere with decorations and lighting effects.
• Let the children dress up in their Halloween costumes and masks. Discuss the characters they are pretending to be. Also, talk about the different kinds of invisible “masks” we sometimes wear, and why people wear them.
• In addition, encourage each member of the family to share some of their fears—real and imaginary. Discuss how these might be diminished or dispelled.
• For refreshments, serve Halloween cupcakes and orange soda.
Invite a few guests to dinner who otherwise would spend Thanksgiving Day alone. A few days before the dinner, ask each guest to recall several of his or her favorite dishes from previous Thanksgivings or other holidays. Serve one of each guest’s favorite dishes with your turkey dinner. They will be delighted by your thoughtfulness!
Create a Centerpiece
As a family project, create a traditional centerpiece to be used each year on your Thanksgiving table. It can be as simple or as complex as you choose, but family participation is important. Be creative!
Some suggestions: Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers, a papier-mache turkey, a horn o’ plenty filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, or a dried flower arrangement.
“Thank You” Place Cards
• Fold 3×5 cards in half to make place cards for every person at the Thanksgiving table.
• Decorate the cards in a Thanksgiving theme, writing each person’s name on the front of a card.
• On the inside, write a thank-you message. Make each message personal, honest and specific.
• Larger cards may be used so that every member of the family can write a message to each person. That way, all receive an expression of gratitude from several people.
“I’m Thankful for…”
Play the “20 Questions” game and base it on things for which each person is thankful. The person who is “it” thinks of one thing for which he or she is thankful, and the others try to guess what it is by asking questions which can only be answered “yes” or “no.” If the group cannot guess the answer in 20 questions or less, the person who is “it” is the winner.
Yuletide Family Fun
Start a tradition of viewing family photographs, slides and movies at Christmastime. It’s fun to see how everyone has changed and to reminisce about past holidays together.
On December 1, set up a jigsaw puzzle with a winter or Christmas scene on a card table. As guests visit your home throughout the holidays, encourage them to work on the puzzle. Challenge your family to complete it by Christmas Day, perhaps saving the final piece for then.
Go caroling with another family and invite them over for refreshments.
Cover a large Styrofoam ball with sprigs of mistletoe, and hang it in a doorway as a reason for family hugs and kisses. (Be sure to pick up any berries that fall from this ornament, since they are poisonous and may be swallowed by small children.)
Make large letters out of newspaper or construction paper to spell the words “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS” on a large, front window of your home.
Growing Christmas Collections
Every year, give each child an ornament of his or her own. As the children grow up, they will have their own ornaments to cherish and eventually take with them into their families’ homes. Give a different kind each year. Here are some suggestions:
These ornaments should be collections of special memories, to be treasured throughout the years.
Family Fun for the New Year
Decorated coffee can
Colored construction paper
3″x3″ cardboard patterns, one for each family member
• During the first week of the New Year, place a colorfully decorated coffee can near the kitchen table. Label it “Family Fun Throughout the Year.”
• Give each member of the family a different—colored piece of construction paper, scissors, a pencil and a 3″ x3″ cardboard pattern.
• Have each person trace the square pattern five times on his construction paper, and cut out the shapes.
• Everyone should then write on each of their squares a family activity which they would like to do on “Family Fun” night, and drop the slips of paper into the container.
• Each week, draw one activity from the can. The person whose color was selected one week does not get another turn until all other colors have been chosen. This gives each family member a fair chance to choose an activity.
• Replenish the coffee can with new cards as needed.
Celebration of the First Snow
Make up a simple song or cheer for the sight of the first snowflake.
Decorate your home with paper snowflakes. Make them by folding a piece of white paper in half, then in half again three more times. Cut snips randomly from the corners and edges. Use your imagination, so no two will be alike. Unfold the papers and hang the snowflakes by black thread in doorways and from ceiling fixtures.
Build “snowmen” and “snow forts” from marshmallows and toothpicks. Set them on a mirror, and use the display for a table centerpiece!
Birdseed pretzels are sure to draw a winter crowd of feathered guests. Explain to your children how difficult it is for birds to find food during these months, and how they can help by providing attractive nourishment for the birds in your neighborhood:
• Lay a 12-inch piece of waxed paper on a protected surface. (The corners may have to be taped down to keep the paper from curling.)
• Squirt wide lines of Elmer’s Glue on the waxed paper to form a pretzel-like design in which all lines meet another.
• Sprinkle birdseed or sunflower seeds onto the glue, and allow the project to dry overnight.
• Turn the designs upside down on a flat surface. Carefully peel away the waxed paper.
• Hang the “pretzels” from tree limbs or fences using strands of thread.
A VALENTINE’S DAY TREAT
How Mom and Dad Met
With the family gathered around, Mom and Dad can tell the story of their first date and courtship. They may want to include:
• How and where they met
• Activities and places they enjoyed while dating
• When they “fell in love”
• What qualities attracted them to one another
• Humorous stories about their courtship and engagement
Everyone will enjoy pictures of Dad and Mom when they were young. And, as a nice touch, they can show the family how they kissed the very first time!
While nothing is growing outside, you can start a garden inside your home by planting vegetables and placing them in your kitchen window.
• Beans: Fill small paper cups or sections of an egg carton with potting soil. Soak bean seeds or dried beans such as navy, pinto or butter beans in water overnight. Push two beans into the soil in each cup until they are just below the surface, and cover them. Water daily.
• Carrots: Cut off the tops of several carrots, leaving about one inch of carrot attached to each top. Place the carrot tops in a saucer or pie pan and add enough water to keep the bottom of each piece in water. Do not allow them to dry out. Before long, roots will form and new tops will grow.
• Sweet potatoes: Cut sweet potatoes in the same way as carrots, and use the same method to grow green tops. Toothpicks can be used to suspend the potato from the rim of a small glass. Keep enough water in the glass so that the bottom of the vegetable cutting stays totally submerged.
• Alfalfa or bean sprouts: Fold several paper towels and place them in the bottom of a flat bowl or large saucer. Soak the towels with water and sprinkle alfalfa seeds or beans on them. Keep the towels wet. In a few days the seeds will sprout, and can be used in salads or on sandwiches. (Sprouts can also be grown in a sealed jar. Put just enough water in a jar to partially cover the seeds. As the water inside the jar evaporates, moisture eventually condenses on the underside of the lid and “rains” down on the seeds. You will have sprouts within a few days.)
SIGNS OF SPRING
Use a bulletin board or chalkboard in your home to record special signs of spring. Print the title “SPRING FIRSTS” at the top of the board.
As a family, discuss things that remind each person of a typical spring sight. Then decide which things everyone should notice, and list them on the board. The first person to spot a sign of spring can put his or her name on the board beside the “spring first,” and paste on a picture of what was observed.
First Robin Contest
After a cold winter, welcome spring by having a “first robin” contest. The first member of the family to see and report a robin is the winner. This contest can continue even after children are grown. No matter where they live, they can call home with “first robin” and claim victory. This tradition celebrates the triumphant return of spring.
The following activity is especially good for elementary and preschool-age children. But be prepared for their older brothers and sisters to participate as well!
Spring Penny Walk
When the flowers and trees begin to bloom, take a “Spring Penny Walk” and enjoy the beautiful sights of spring. Toss a penny at each intersection to determine what path will be taken. (“Heads” indicates a right turn and “tails” specifies a left turn.) After returning home, have each member of the family color a picture of what he or she liked best about the springtime walk. Share the results after dinner.
FAMILY EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE
Ahead of time..
• Choose a special, quiet place from which the sunrise can be seen.
• Prepare a simple, carry-along breakfast of boiled eggs, rolls, juice, etc. (Each person’s breakfast can be packed in a colorful Easter basket, with surprises hidden in the bottom.)
• The week before Easter, read from the Bible or a Bible storybook about the events leading up to the Resurrection, and discuss them together.
• The night before Easter Sunday, talk about how the disciples must have felt on the Saturday night before the Resurrection; how Jesus’ mother must have felt; what Mary Magdalene and those who had known Jesus might have felt.
On Easter morning…
• Rise early enough to get to your special place before the sun does!
• Wear casual clothes (you can get ready for church later), and take warm jackets and blankets.
• Sit together on a blanket, and read the Easter story from the Bible.
• As the sun comes peeping over the horizon, sing a victorious song about our risen Lord. Then, with your eyes wide open, thank God for the Resurrection and what it means to your family.
• Celebrate by sharing the simple breakfast you prepared.
FRUIT BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
Decorate windows and bulletin boards with pictures cut from magazines or seed catalogs of the fruit most commonly grown in your area.
Bring dead limbs into the house and decorate them with mock blossoms made from tissue or crepe paper.
Make ice cream using frozen fruit from last year’s crop.
Celebrate the bees. Explain how without them, there would be no fruit. Ask one of your children to find out why and report on the subject at supper.
Tie “welcome ribbons” around each budding tree. Match the ribbons to the colors of the fruit that each tree will bear.
Plant a seedling. If your yard is small, a dwarf tree is best. You may want to use this idea in the fall, so the seedling can develop a root system during the dormant winter months.
MAY DAY SURPRISE
On May 1, rise early in the morning and pick a bouquet of spring flowers. Place the flowers in a pretty basket that can hang on a doorknob. (You can make your own basket from construction paper.)
Hang the May basket on the knob of the front door at a friend’s house. Ring the doorbell, and hide. When someone comes to the door, jump out and shout, “May Day!”
SUMMER MEMORY BOOK
At the beginning of summer, record dates and descriptions of special outings, family activities and unusual events. Paste or tape ticket stubs, programs, place cards and other souvenirs into a “summer memory book” for your family.
Review the notebook with family members at the end of the summer, and enjoy the memories you have created!
SUMMER LOLLIPOP COOKIES
Use a favorite crispy cookie recipe:
• Roll out the dough (not too thin) and cut into round shapes with a cookie cutter or a glass.
• Place the cookies on a baking sheet, insert a wooden Popsicle stick one or two inches into the base of each one, and bake.
• After the cookies have cooled, frost them with a sunshine-yellow icing.
• Candies or raisins can be used to decorate the “suns” with faces!
JULY 4TH PATRIOT PARADE
Ahead of time…
• Invite family and friends to join in the parade.
• Decorate bikes, trikes, wagons, “Big Wheels” and doll buggies with red, white or blue paper stars, crepe-paper streamers and ribbons.
• Have each participant choose a patriot to represent. Make suitable costumes from crepe paper, construction paper and old clothes. (Some possible characters: George Washington, Betsy Ross, Uncle Sam, Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Paul Revere, Martha Washington, a bugler, a drummer.)
• Get family pets into the act. Tie bright ribbons, bows or strips of paper to leashes, collars, cages or pet boxes. (Be careful to separate pets who don’t like each other.)
At the scheduled time…
• Have observers sit in lawn chairs where they can see the “parade route.”
• Announce the beginning of the parade with a bugle call, and signal the drummer(s) to lead the procession.
• Have an announcer introduce each patriot or parade entry as that “act” passes by.
• After the parade, have the announcer invite everyone to sing “America the Beautiful” together. Serve cold slices of watermelon.
A Present for Our Land
Give a living and growing present to our land by planting a tree or bush. Determine what kind of plant should be selected and where it would grow best.
Talk with your children about the environmental reasons for giving such a gift. (It releases oxygen into the atmosphere, gives shelter to birds, provides shade, etc.) Plant the tree or bush in your yard, or ask the city or park service to select an appropriate spot for it in the community.
July 4th “We Love You, America” Dinner
Plan an all-American dinner:
• Include traditional foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, apple pie and ice cream.
• Decorate the table with a patriotic theme, using red, white and blue napkins, tablecloths and flowers.
• If a globe is available, show young children where the United States is located in relation to other countries. Talk about the customs of peoples in other countries and our own, and reasons why people love their native lands.
• Look in an encyclopedia for further information concerning Independence Day, and share it with everyone. After you have discussed the article, ask each child to remember one important fact or idea he or she learned from it.
NEIGHBORHOOD ART SHOW
Ahead of time…
• With other families in the neighborhood, agree on a place, time and date for the art show. Give two or three weeks’ notice.
• Make colorful signs about the event and post them in places where they will attract attention.
• While the children make art pieces for the show, mothers and fathers can plan simple refreshments.
On the day of the show…
• Collect all entries at an early hour (which should be announced in advance) such as 9 a.m.
• Make sure each item is clearly marked with the name of the artist and the price.
• Separate entries into categories, such as paintings, sculptures and drawings.
• Set up displays, keeping categories together and arranging entries so they may be easily seen.
At show time…
• Serve refreshments while parents and friends browse.
• Provide a cashier’s table where art may be purchased. If the money is to return to the individual artists, have the cashier keep track of the items sold.
After the event…
• Make each artist responsible for picking up unsold items and taking them home.
• Have a clean-up committee put away tables and chairs, pick up trash and take care of leftover refreshments.
THE FIRST TO SHARE
Celebrate the arrival of nature’s first fruits by sharing as a family:
• the first rosebud. Place it in a prominent place and enjoy its beauty together.
• the first apple from the tree. Divide it and make every bite count!
• the first cider. Buy it as a family. Make a tradition by always serving it in a special way: with popcorn, hot with cinnamon sticks and honey, or straight from the jug.
• the first pumpkin pie. Make a tradition of inviting the same guest(s) to share it—such as a grandparent, friend, neighbor or relative.
THE GIFT OF WORK
To help your children appreciate the gift of work, make arrangements to take them to your place of employment on a regular workday. If that is impossible, share pictures and materials with them that demonstrate the work you do.
• Talk about how work is a gift to us and about the joy we find in contributing to other person’s lives through the use of our skills.
• Take an outing to your place of employment. (If both parents work, include both jobs.) Help the children learn about the end result of your specific job.
• Show them the entire facility, especially your work area, and introduce them to some of your co-workers.
• Eat together in the plant cafeteria, an office snack shop or a nearby restaurant where you often go for lunch. If you usually take your lunch, pack one for each member of the family.
• At the end of the day, discuss how each person in your family does specific jobs to make your home run smoothly. Thank God together for the health, strength and intelligence to work.
THE GIFT OF WHO YOU ARE
This gift is very special for a family member away at college or in the service, and makes a thoughtful birthday present. It is great medicine for counteracting discouragement all year long!
• Buy large, empty capsules from a drugstore or pharmacy.
• On strips of bright-colored paper, have each member of the family write, love you because…” and sign his or her name on the back. Each person may contribute many words of encouragement!
• Roll the strips tightly and insert one in each capsule.
• Put the capsules into a small box, and wrap or decorate the package. Then send it to the person you are honoring. He or she can read the slips of paper now, or save them as bolsters for their self-esteem in the future!
The above article, “Let’s Make a Memory” is written by Gloria Gaither & Shirley Dobson. The article was excerpted from a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family in 1991.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.