With spring break just around the corner, students from K-12 are eager to get some well-deserved rest. With nicer weather on the way, but pandemic restrictions still in place, many are likely looking for suggestions for keeping their children busy, but away from the screen. Check out our suggestions below for activities that draw on TREE’s core components of peace education. These are designed for kids and teens of all ages to connect with others and stay meaningfully entertained, all while making a difference!
Write a letter to someone who might need a little extra encouragement. The pandemic has resulted in many having to limit their regular social interactions, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. This is particularly prevalent in seniors in long-term care homes who are unable to have visitors. Several organizations and care facilities have created letter writing programs that match kids and teens with a senior to send letters to, and these programs have continued to grow. Ensure that you are sending your letter under a designated organization such as Mississauga-based Sending Sunshine – this program offers both one-time card sending, or pen pal programs that can count towards high school volunteer hours. You can be creative with your card designs; try including a quote from your favourite peacemaker to encourage others. This is a great way to brighten a senior’s day and form a new connection!
If you would like to stick with something more personal, consider a friend or relative who would appreciate hearing from a loved one via a surprise letter or card. Even if you are in regular contact with this person, everyone loves getting mail!
Turn your home green. Changing some of our everyday practices can help reduce our carbon footprint and create something new along the way! Visit this website for various upcycling projects, such as turning old t-shirts into reusable grocery bags, or making a jump rope out of plastic bags. These activities range from beginner to advanced DIY skills, and they use supplies you would find in your home that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
With the warmer weather, you could also make your own indoor or outdoor composter. This only requires three ‘ingredients’, and can further reduce waste in your home.
Not only is it good for the environment, but it creates better soil for other plants you might want to grow. Visit your local plant nursery for some plants to occupy your home.
Graffiti for good. Looking for another way to spread purposeful encouragement? Grab some sidewalk chalk and create some designs on your driveway, your sidewalk, or a nearby parking lot (with adult supervision). Together, you can come up with motivating messages for those passing by. Art For Kids Hub offers lots of step-by-step video tutorials for different drawings, including this one that teaches you how to write word art in ‘graffiti style’.
Consider how you can go beyond surface-level positivity and spread more meaningful, social justice-themed messages. Try looking through books you have at home and write a favourite quote, or create art based on the book’s message. If you’re in need of some inspiration, the Waterloo Public Library is continually updating their readings lists for kids and teens, many of which are based on social justice topics and centering BIPOC authors. Not only are you reading about important issues that prompt conversations with your kids, but creating a visual representation of their takeaways is a great way to solidify their learning and encourage others to learn as well.
How are you planning to spend spring break with your family? Let us know below!
Art for Kids Hub. (2019, January 30). How to draw the word art (simple graffiti style) + challenge time [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVyz90JDrFA
The National Environmental Education Foundation. At-home upcycle projects from climate superstars. https://www.neefusa.org/education/upcycle-projects
Sending Sunshine. Writing a card. https://www.sendingsunshine.ca/card-writing-help
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Composting at home. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
Waterloo Public Library. (2019). Kids’ Picks. https://www.wpl.ca/kids%20picks
Haley Bauman is a graduate from the University of Waterloo with a BA in Therapeutic Recreation. During her undergrad, Haley completed a placement at a high school in Brampton that helped her discover her passion for working with children and youth in urban schools. Haley is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Education from Western University with a specialty in Urban Education. She is excited to be involved with TREE and learn more about social justice in education contexts.