Make a Dream Catcher

The Ojibwa were the first Native Americans to use dream catchers. They believe that the night sky is filled with good and bad dreams, and when a dream catcher is hung over the bed, it snares them. The good ones pass through the openings, but the nightmares get trapped in the web only to be destroyed with the rising sun. Many other tribes and cultures have adopted this comforting tradition, and lucky for kids, dream catchers are easy and fun activity to make together. Our instructions are for a simple dream catcher, but feel free to encourage kids to add beads, craft feathers, and other decorations you have on hand.

What you’ll need:

  • Small embroidery hoop
  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Felt
  • Craft glue

What to do:

1. Remove the outer ring of the embroidery hoop. Set aside. Wrap the inner loop with yarn. (You can also paint it if you prefer.)

2. Cut a 3- to 4-foot piece of yarn. Knot one end to the hoop. Roll the remaining length into a small ball or bundle (it makes the yarn easier to manage).

3. To make the web, loop the yarn around the frame every few inches until you reach the starting point. At each point, go over the top of the hoop then wrap the yarn around the tight strand you just created. That will help anchor the loop in place. Continue weaving the yarn around the strands, pulling them tight as you go. You can follow a pattern or just do it randomly! When the web is complete. Knot the yarn and trim the ends.

4. Make the tails. Cut several lengths of yarn. Cut small and large feather shapes out of felt. Cut circles and other shapes if desired. Sandwich one end of yarn between two feathers. Glue to secure. Decorate with additional feathers or circles as you like. Knot the other end to the bottom of the hoop. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

5. Tie a loop of yarn at the top of the hoop, then hang your dream catcher over your bed.

Craft projects are among kids favorite activities that also teach life skills, including 1) following directions 2) concentration, 3) motor skills & 4) patience.

6 Things Housework Teaches Kids

Sure, we bet there are some kids out in the world who happily grab a sponge to wash the dishes after dinner without a reminder of any kind. (If you have one of those unicorns, feel free to skip to the next article!) The rest of us, however, are probably more familiar with the common species of youth who moan and groan through each and every task. Despite their (vastly) exaggerated pain, doing routine chores and housework teaches kids important life skills, including independence and collaboration. 

That’s because they learn how to do various tasks on their own—while also contributing to the greater good of the family. After all, when everybody helps, everybody wins. Now, it may be years before they cop to any of this. Totally fine. That’s their prerogative.  In the meantime, you can keep (gently) reminding them of all the benefits that come along with helping to create a clean, organized, and cozy home:

We feel calmer. Living in a constantly messy house can be stressful and makes it difficult to concentrate.

We feel proud. We worked together as a family to create a comfortable living space.

We have easier mornings. No one needs to run up, down, and all around to find their sneakers or homework or backpacks because everything is in its place.

 We learn how to do important jobs like loading the dishwasher, scooping the litter, and even cleaning the toilet. (Download our kid-safe cleaning-solution recipe cards!)

We can have fun while we’re doing what needs to get done. Blast some music and turn it into a dance party (brooms make excellent microphones!).

We have more time to do what we want. When everyone pitches in, the jobs get done fast. Truth!

We’re big fans of using a responsibility wheel to divide up the housework. Download our printable version and try it with your kids.

Let’s Talk About It!

Sometimes it helps to have a little help to get the conversation flowing! We’ve got a list of 24 questions that are perfect for the dinner table, FaceTiming with Grandma, even long car rides. Check them out below or click the button above to get a printable version. Happy chatting!

24 Conversation Starters for Kids

If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?

Who’s your best friend and why?

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

What sport are you afraid to try?

If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be?

What food did you hate at first, but now like?

What three words describe you best?

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Name a book you’d like to read this month?

What’s the best thing about being your age?

Share your earliest memory?

What’s your favorite dinner?

If you could have any pet in the world, what would you pick?

List three things you love about your family.

Share an all-time favorite vacation memory.

What is one thing you own that you would never sell?

If you were given a present, what would you like it to be?

What is your favorite movie and why?

If you could be an animal, which would you be?

What is one thing you wish you knew how to do?

If you could redecorate your room, how would it look?

What do you love about your cousins?

What scares you the most?

Describe your perfect day.

Make a Fortune Teller

How many times have you heard, “Mooooom, I’m boooored!”? A hundred? A million? In our homes, the digital natives get particularly restless when their screen time is up. Next time you hear the refrain in your house, have the kids make an old-school fortune teller. Yep, the same kind you probably made during lunch in elementary school! But instead of filling it with predictions about who you’ll marry or what kind of house you’ll have, write in fun ideas of things to do.

All you need to get started is a square piece of paper. If you don’t have any origami paper laying around, just use a sheet from the printer. Grab a bottom corner and pull it diagonally across to meet the opposite edge. Crease the paper. You’ll be left with a band across the top. Fold that down, crease, and then trim it off. You’ll be left with a perfect square!

Before you start folding (we’ve got the instructions!), have the kids make a list of eight activities they enjoy doing. The only rule? Nothing can involve screens! Some of our favorite screen-free activities:

• Go for a bike ride
• Go to the playground
• Read a book
• Build a block tower
• Play in the sprinkler
• Jump rope
• Shoot some hoops
• Play catch
• Play hide and seek
• Play Four Square
• Play hopscotch
• Draw a picture

No doubt your kids will have plenty of their own ideas to add to the list! For more keep-’em-busy activities, check out our printable word games and puzzles. And if you feel like the whole family needs to cut back on screen time, check out our Screen Time Family Agreement.

7 Long-distance Games & Activities

Just because grandparents, cousins, and friends live far away doesn’t mean you can’t hang out! We’re big fans of making weekly dates to video-chat with long-distance loved ones. Here are a few of our favorite ideas that you can try with your kids:

Before the call, print out our 24 Convo Starters  (and make sure your relative prints out a copy too.) Each week, take turns asking and answering two or three questions. You’ll all learn a lot!

This is a perfect game to play when you’re in different places. You each grab a board, set up your ships, and go! We recommend playing over Wi-Fi though to save your data.

Decorate cookies or cupcakes and show each other your work. Check out some of the Kidstir Happy Cooking Kit recipes for inspiration.

Most video chat apps allow you to call multiple people at the same time so you can all talk at once—perfect for a book club.

No picking out of a hat with this version. Each person can take turns acting out favorite books, movies, characters…or whatever you like!

Even if Grandma or Grandpa can’t be there to snuggle, they can still help tuck in your little ones with a story. Kids can follow along with their own copies, or just relax and listen.

Show your kids how to make a fortune teller (we’ve got the instructions!) and fill it with all sorts of silly predictions for the future. Laughter definitely guaranteed!

Screen Time You Can Feel Good About

We get it: Managing kids’ screen time can feel like a constant battle…especially when they’re lost in mindless games or YouTube videos. Oh, the meltdowns we have survived! But when kids use their screentime to create something new, well, that’s a whole different story. Engaging with technology in a positive way leaves them motivated and energized—not comatose. Next time your kids are begging for an extra session, try to point them in one of these creative directions:

Encourage your kids to explore their environment through a lens. Make a list of things to photograph around the house or neighborhood and go on a photo scavenger hunt. You can give this an alphabetical twist by challenging them to find things that represent each letter of the alphabet. Be sure to teach them some of the basics of taking great photos like following the rule of thirds (put the subject of the photo in either the top, right, left, or bottom third of the viewfinder) and showing them how to fill the frame (especially great for close-ups!).

Do your kids love to make up stories and pretend? Encourage them to write a script and then act it out (improv also works!). Maybe your kid has an opinion on everything. Have him record reviews of snacks, books, movies, whatever his passion is. Also super-fun: how-to videos. Have your star skateboarder teach his trademark kick-flip. Your mini baker can demo her mad cake-decorating skills. Set up a private YouTube channel and invite your friends and family to check ’em out.

Most devices have a voice-recording app, so let your kids try creating their own podcast. Before they get started, have them do a little brainstorming: What do they want to talk about? What should they call their show? Who will do the talking? Will they interview anyone…if so, what questions do they want to ask? If they’re stumped for themes, float one of these ideas:

• Family history interviews (here’s a list of questions!)
• Family news of the week
• Recaps of their favorite shows, games, whatevers!

You can simply email the mP3 files to friends and family, but if they really want to go pro, check out free podcasting platforms like Podbean and Anchor.