I hope you enjoy this article, just in time for Easter and published in the March Issue of the La Quinta Gem!
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
We often make the mistake of thinking that kids are “too little” to make a difference, but there is nothing further from the truth. Here are ten fun and engaging ways to help children express love and kindness to animals:
1. Cuddly Book Buddies: If you are a teacher, invite your students to bring a stuffed animal to school to read with a younger grade level. You could arrange for a special visit from your class to another, bringing their pups with them, to snuggle up and read a great book with them. Use this opportunity to plant the seed for children to consider reading with their own animals at home.
2. Give a Little, Get a Lot: Brainstorm a list of things dogs and cats need in their daily lives, and then challenge each child to bring one care item to school (a can of food, a leash for a dog, a cat toy, a tennis ball, a bowl, a blanket, etc.) to create a care package for a local animal shelter. Then involve your class in creating a letter to the animals at the shelter, including a class pic of the kids with their own dogs, and send it to your local shelter. This is such a wonderful way to express compassion for these often very lonely animals.
3. Cook Up Some Goodness: Involve your students in a class cooking project to make dog and cat treats for a local animal rescue group. You can invite each child to bring one ingredient from home to create your masterpiece. Then if possible, actually deliver the treats on a class field trip, along with a class letter to give to the rescue group and its’ animals.
4. Stuffed Buddies for Other Kids: Invite your students to bring a gently-used stuffed animal to school – to donate to a local children’s charity (or even to another school) so they too can have their own reading buddy. Ask each student to write a letter to another child, explaining that this is a new reading buddy for them so they won’t have to be alone as they learn to read.
5. Add a Splash of Creativity and Color: You could have your students create animal-themed bookmarks for a younger class, with each bookmark listing three things kids can do to demonstrate kindness to animals in their lives. You could combine this idea with #1 above to make that experience extra-special!
6. 100 Acts of Kindness: Challenge your students to list 100 kind acts towards animals in their lives for the week. This could mean making sure your pet has clean water every day, offering to take your dog out first thing in the morning, feeding your fish every day, cleaning your hamster’s cage, offering to walk your neighbor’s dog, giving a special treat to your grandma’s cat, or spending extra quality time with your pet this week.
7. Kindness for Animals in Your Community: Cleaning up trash in your neighborhood or even on your school grounds helps to keep both people and animals healthy and safe. Challenge your class to pick up 10 pieces of trash each to help your school stay beautiful and clean, while also preventing animals from eating foil and other items that can be dangerous for them. Remember, animals in the wild do not have doctors or veterinarians to help them if they eat a candy wrapper or some Styrofoam – one way we can help to protect these animals is by cleaning up our trash.
8. Raise a Little Love Money: Hold a “class garage sale” where each child brings in one toy or stuffed animal to donate to the sale, or organize a Valentine’s Day Candy Sale – with all proceeds going towards an animal shelter of their choice!
9. Kindness in Our Everyday Lives: Here’s a great way to encourage children to think about ways they can express simple acts of kindness. In different parts of your classroom, place five poster board signs:
Divide your students randomly into five groups, and then have each group brainstorm and list ideas for how they can show kindness to both people and animals in each place. Then come back together as a group to see how many ideas you can generate together. Finally, challenge your students to actually do these acts of kindness over the next week, placing a heart-shaped sticker beside each act of kindness children carry out. ☺
10. Think Beyond Ourselves: Challenge your students to think big about ways they can continue to help animals in their lives, such as asking for donations for an animal rescue group for their next birthday party instead of asking for gifts. There are some wonderful examples of how other children have done this on the Humane Society of the United States website at: http://www.humanesociety.org/parents_educators/kids/kids/.
You might also want to consider subscribing to the Humane Society magazine, Kind News (http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/kind_news/) , which features child heroes for animals.
One of my favorite things about this time of the year is feeling inspired to create and distill my big goals for the next twelve months. I used to reserve a quiet evening each January to snuggle up by the fire with my two little pups and a hot mug of tea so I could dream and write about what I wanted the next year to look and feel like. It was satisfying, but somewhere along the way, I would lose track of my goals and begin to take them less seriously. Often, I even lost that piece of paper, too. 🙂
Then, about five years ago, I learned the art of creating vision boards from my mentor Jack Canfield, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and The Success Principles. Jack attributes much of his success, both personally and professionally, to the regular practice of creating and using vision boards in his daily life. Since learning to create vision boards, my life has changed in significant ways. I wouldn’t call vision boards “magic,” but I would attribute much of my success directly to the daily, focused attention to and visualization of what I really, really want from this incredible life.
Because of this, I began teaching younger students how to create vision boards of their own. I’ve worked with children as young as seven years old to teach them to articulate what it is their big goals and dreams are for their lives, and it’s always such a heart-warming and exciting experience to learn that what really matters to a lot of children isn’t what we think it might be. I invite you to challenge yourself this year to give your students the tools and strategies they need to learn to believe in themselves, to dream big, and to create the life of their dreams through vision boards. Just watch my video below to learn how!
Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time for everyone in your family – including the dogs – because of the delicious goodies and aromas filling our homes. But just in case you are tempted to indulge your pet with a special “treat,” make sure you know which human foods can actually be a nightmare for our dogs.
Published this November in the La Quinta Gem:
It’s hard to believe it’s already almost that time of the year again! I know we are all rushing around preparing for Thanksgiving, but the reality is that Christmas really is just around the corner. It can catch us by surprise because the week we get back from Thanksgiving break, it’s already December. And then the question always comes up: What should I do for my students this holiday season for a gift? Because we don’t want to spend a lot of money – or let me rephrase that – because we don’t have a lot of money to spend – each year, I found myself trying to find class sets of some kind of a little trinket that ultimately probably just ended up getting lost or thrown out in the trash. So finally, I came up with an idea that not only truly demonstrated how much I cared about my students, but also lasted 12 school days, didn’t cost me a lot of money, and really brought back the beauty, joy, and magic of the season. It isn’t about the gift – it’s about the thoughtfulness behind it, and I know my students felt loved and thought of every single day since I began this tradition in my classroom. I hope you enjoy this little gift from me to you! Just click the image below to get access to this video and free template now!
I’m thrilled that Univsion came to Rio Vista Elementary School yesterday (Nov. 10th) to feature my program on the news. A huge thank you to two of the parents, Aurora and Catherine, who came out to speak about their experience with the program, as well as to teacher Teresa Jacobson and her 2nd grade class for hosting us!
And the best part? Univision is coming back again next week to cover the story of our “Doggone Awesome Reading Celebration and Adoption Ceremony” on Nov. 18th where 120 children will get to adopt and take their little stuffed dogs home to become part of their forever families. A huge thank you to Jonathan, the reporter, for coming out and for demonstrating such genuine care for children’s education.
I’m SO excited! Loving All Animals is holding their HUGE Annual Super Pet Adoption Festival soon, and if the kids who are participating in my program come visit me at my booth, they can get their own REAL golden bone dog tag engraved with their little stuffed pup’s name on it! Watch the video below to learn the details:
I hope to see you at this wonderful event!