Everyday Memory Making Opportunities

Posted by  | Sunday, February 10, 2008  at 1:44 PM  
So here are some of the things we do at our house on a regular basis that I hope will become fond memories for my children as well as well as for my husband and I. To keep the list somewhat short I am not going to include the obvious things like playing with my kids, reading books and the like. I will just include things you may not have heard of before or thought of as memory making opportunities.

In no particular order....


• Snow in a Bowl - When it is too cold outside we bring in a bowl, put on our mittens and play. We even made a snow man once.
• Fun with Food....Hot Dog People,Plate Faces and Green Eggs and Pancakes. Hot dog people are easy to make. My mom used to do this all the time and it was so much fun. you cut slits in the hot dogs before you boil them. a slit to separate the legs, two for the arms. Then for a boy you make a cut to make a bill of a hat and for girls, two little cuts for pig tails. Really cute. Friends' kids actually request these when they come to our house.

Plate faces are just arranging the food on the plate to make a face. Orange slices, grapes, and carrot sticks are good for this as well as raisins. You can make hair, ears, eyes, glasses, entire bodies. Really anything—get creative. It is a great way to teach body parts too. Get the kids involved too. Here is a photo of Liam making simple faces on top of some sandwiches.


Another fun thing to mix it up is making green eggs or green pancakes. My mom always did this on St. Patrick's day. It is fun and surprising to kids that the food still tastes the same! Just add a drop or two of food coloring.


Leaf Houses - great fall time activity if you have to rake leaves. You rake the leaves in to lines to make rooms. Kind of like looking at a floor plan from above. You have doorways and hall ways. We used to do this ALL THE TIME when I was little. We loved it as toddlers and well into elementary, when we could do it ourselves. We had hours and hours of fun pretending and running through the maze. We would use old rugs or blankets and make beds, bring out baby dolls, the whole works. Great fun.

Playing Grocery Store - get out some real groceries (canned food, boxes, etc) and set up a little store. You can use play food, but something about the "real thing" makes it more fun. We use the steps, the couch, kitchen chairs, whatever for the shelves. Then let the kids go shopping. They use our little play cart, but a wagon or basket would work. Then we use a calculator as a pretend cash register, make the beeping sounds and use play money we make by just cutting up green paper. Put the groceries in an old paper shopping bag. They always want to do it again and again. Great opportunity to talk about money or choosing healthy foods.


• Play Houses & Tents - Any time we get a big box at our house it instantly becomes a play house. We cut off or tape closed the flaps, cut a door and/or windows and let the kids color all over the box. We put stickers on the box. It is hours of fun. If my kids aren't too rough on them it will last weeks, but even if only for a few days, it is a special thing. And who can forget FREE!
Making tents is a lot of fun too. It creates a cozy, private world for play and pretend. Just throw a blanket over a chair, table or couch. Ours get pretty elaborate sometimes.

• Trash to Treasure - It is funny how much play time kids get out of the simplest things. Empty cereal boxes, oatmeal canisters, paper towel rolls and shoe boxes have provided lots of joy for my kids. Liam's favorite thing is to make engine sheds out of shoe boxes or packages we get in the mail. We cut little doors all in a row and color the box or put stickers on it. One time I painted it like the engine shed in one of his Thomas books. We draw and cut trains and planes and dogs and cats out of cereal box cardboard. Just draw it on the blank side and cut it out. The kids get to color it and it is surprising how long they play with these flat flimsy things. They love it.




One time I made our own lacing cards by printing out Thomas pictures from the internet and glueing them on old cereal boxes, then punching holes around the edges. Old shoe string or yarn with tape on the end and you're in business. Every large box we get is used. Sometimes we just unfold it and let the kids have a big surface to color on on the floor. We traced their bodies on this one and let them color it in. Another great lesson on identifying body parts and clothing.

• Indulge their imaginations - One morning my son Liam was playing with his trains when he came and told me it was Thomas's birthday. We have a Thomas book that is about Thomas's surprise birthday party. Whether this is where he got the idea or not, I said, "oh, it is!?" He went back to playing and I decided to go with it. I made cupcakes and got out the old party hats. (in the story they wear "silly hats"). So when my husband came home from work we had a surprise party for Thomas! We even had little hat's for Thomas and for Kate's train, Lady. He told me, "Thomas was one, because he is number one." So we had one candle and Liam helped him blow it out. Thomas is Liam's best friend in the world and I hope this was a great memory for him. Whether or not he'll remember it years from now or not, it was a special way to get into his world and spur on his imagination, as well as acknowledging that we knew how special Thomas was to him.
• Singing and Reading in the Car - We sing all the time in the car. A great way to teach them nursery rhymes and sunday school songs. My kids love it. (This was a big memory for me as a kid.)

My mom also used to read to us on long car trips—usually a vacation. She read chapter books, sometimes pretty long ones. She did this even when we were well into high school. The whole family got really into it. In fact, I can remember one time we had gotten to our destination, but Dad didn't tell us and kept driving around for 2 hours so he could hear the end of the book! Our kids are just now getting old enough and have the attention span to do this. Maybe this summer!

• Special Daddy Time/DevotionsLink - one thing my husband does special with the kids is feeds them breakfast, every morning that he doesn't have an breakfast meeting. He has done breakfast for Liam since he was around 6 months old. It is their special time with just daddy everyday. I am able to sleep in or get ready to start a day with the kids. It has been great for all of us. The memories they will have of those special times in the morning are priceless.

Now that the kids are2 and 3 they read a Bible Story and talk about how to live it out. Right now we are using "Devotions for Preschoolers" and "100 Bible Stories 100 Bible Songs" or the "Read with me Bible". The Devotions for Preschoolers is nice because it has a lesson for every day of the year, but they tend to be a little cheesy. We prefer the other too as far as content goes. And the 100 Bible Stories and Songs book comes with 2 CD's with 50 songs each, one for each lesson. I really like these CDs because they take so long to repeat themselves. The kids like to listen to them while they play. If Eric is not there for breakfast, I will do the Bible Story for the day. They are always sure to remind me.
• Scripture Memorization - Our kids are in Awana at church and are starting to learn Bible verses. My husband and I have verses we are trying to memorize too, sometimes for a class we're in. The kids get a real kick out it that when we ask them to say their verse that they get to ask us to do ours. What a great memory to have of memorizing scripture as a family. I have really enjoyed this one.

• "When you were little/When I was little Stories - This is something we do once in a while. We do it when we're just cuddling during the day, driving in the car, at meal times, or at bedtime. They love to hear stories about when they were babies or when we were their age. It helps connect to the past and build a sense of identity. Also a great way to share what God has done in your life and their lives. Teaches how to look back and see the hand of God at work.

Speaking of which, this reminds me of something we learned from our mentors, the Dusseaus. They have a little glass cabinet with a dozen or so strange little objects in it—not things you would display in a glass cabinet. They are memory triggers to stories about how God has worked in their lives and their family. We have started this tradition too, but ours is in a bowl for now. A couple times a year ever since their kids were little they get these items out and go through each story of the lesson God taught them or whatever. As the kids got older they were able to tell the stories to the family. One I can remember of theirs is a piece of cotton fluff from a stuffed animal. One time when their daughter Grace was 4 she and Steve, the dad, were at a Dunkin Donuts for some reason. As they were eating their donuts Steve noticed these two dirty, ratty teenage boys pumping quarter after quarter into the claw vending machine. He thought, "What are they doing? They should be using that money to by themselves some new clothes." Just then the boys won a little stuffed bear. Then they walked straight over and gave it to Grace. "Ouch!" is what Steve usually says at this point in the story. God used those two boys to teach Steve a lesson about compassion and being too quick to judge. What a great object lesson from real life to repeat year after year to your kids! Plus, when people notice this little cabinet with a piece of cotton fluff in it they usually inquire about it and it leads to many opportunities for sharing Christ and for discipleship. We have a couple of items in our bowl. It has been challenging to me to think through the ways God has provided for us and the things he has taught us, so that we can put an item in the bowl to remember it and teach it to our children. It is like Ebenezers in the Bible.

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the lord helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

"In Hebrew an Ebenezer is literally a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help." link

"Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. in the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:5-7

• Serving Others - We have a food pantry at our church and every Sunday we let the kids pick (from a choice of 2 or 3) food items to take to give to people who need food. They get to carry the item into church and put it in the bin. It has been great to have conversations about why and how we should help others.

Well, I think this list is long enough. Geesh! Sorry it took me so long to post.

1 comment:

markandmeg said...

Great ideas! I especially love the idea for collecting items to remind you of lessons God has taught you!

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