You may have seen this photograph circulating around social media in the last few years. It was taken by Kirsty Kelly from Lanarkshire who graciously gave me permission to use the image. Kirsty’s photographs are gorgeous, but this one in particular captures a wonderfully unscripted moment. It is a picture of Kirsty’s daughter responding to a picture of Anna Pavlova painted by John Lavery. I love it!
What images does the Charleston invoke for you? For me it is the dance that captures the spirit of the roaring twenties. It conjures up images of young women in fabulous dresses, dancing with carefree abandon. It brings back memories of my grandmothers as this was their dance; the one they learned in their teens. It is fun, lively and makes me smile. Last week the library rang to the music of the Charleston as children aged 6-13 dressed up 1920’s fashion and learned some basic Charleston steps. There was lots of laughter and they did really well. It was wonderful.
It occurred to me that this would a really fun thing for parents to do with their children. Learning the dance doesn’t take a lot of preparation or expense, but will help burn off energy, give you something fun to do together, and build great memories. This is Gangnam Style done the 1920’s way!
You will need
- Some 1920’s music. You can download it from iTunes (search for The Charleston), or play something like the Extended Charleston Mix on YouTube
- Some dance instructions. Probably the easiest way to learn is to follow some instructional videos and there are lots available on YouTube.
- How to Charleston breaks the dance down into some very simple steps that anyone can follow.
- Quick Charleston Moves gives instructions for dancing solo or with a partner.
Costumes are optional, but do add to the fun. All you need are some headbands, beads, and a mustache. Cut mustaches out of black construction paper and stick them on with a loop of tape, or use washable markers and draw them on.
So gather your children, strap on your dancing shoes, move back the furniture, and start dancing. The idea is to have fun, so don’t worry about getting the steps exactly right. Just give it a try and enjoy the missteps and laughter. Don’t forget to take pictures, or even a video to mark the occasion.
And just for fun here is a movie clip from the 1920’s
Do you dance with your children? What dances have you learned together? How might dancing with your kids help you build strong connections?
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” John Holmes
“Mom we have to help,” declared my oldest. He had seen some of the images on the television. He saw the devastation and the need. Like so many children his compassionate response was immediate. It wasn’t complicated in his mind. There was a need and we had the means to help.
He did extra chores to earn money and made his own contribution to our donation. It was a wonderful experience for us both.
I have been working with children for over 40 years. I have found that most children are naturally kind and generous. If they are invited to help others they will throw themselves wholeheartedly into the project. It is wonderful to see.
It is also wonderful to watch the smiles and enthusiasm that accompany even the smallest act of kindness. Kids love this stuff!
Doing an act of kindness is a wonderful family activity
It feels really good to be able to help others and making it a family project has all kinds of benefits. One of the simplest ways to reach out is to make a Kiva loan.
Who or what is Kiva?
Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows people to lend money to people in developing countries. Kiva works with micro-finance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. It literally changes people’ lives.
To understand how Kiva works take a moment and watch their Video.
Raising the money for the loan
The first thing you will need is $25. You could just take the money out of your bank account, but it is far more meaningful if you work together to raise the money.
Brainstorm ways of raising $25. Why not ask your children for their ideas. You might surprised at their ingenuity!
7 ideas to get the creative juices flowing
- Ask each member of the family to contribute gently used items that can be sold.
- One night a week enjoy a low cost meal and put aside the money that you save.
- Make your own bread and put aside the money that you save.
- Ask each member of the family to give up one treat a week.
- Have a baking party and sell baked goods to friends or family members who would appreciate a home made treat
- Go on a loose change scavenger hunt. Check under sofa cushions, on top of bureaus, in pockets, in the laundry room.
- If you live where refundable deposits are charged on bottles go on a bottle hunt. Round up those empties and take them back to claim the deposit.
Together choose one or more idea and put your plan into action. When you have raised your $25 it’s time to make the loan.
Make the Loan
Making a Kiva loan is simple. Start by gathering together as a family. Explain that in some countries it is almost impossible for people to find work or get a loan to start a business. Go to the Kiva website and help the children to explore the site.
Next open a Kiva account, choose a project to support, and then make your loan!
You might like to print out the profile of the individual who is receiving the loan and post it somewhere that is visible to the whole family.
When the loan is repaid (97% of them are) choose another project to support and repeat the process. It’s as simple as that.
Now it’s your turn
Have you ever made a micro-loan? Have you any creative fund raising ideas to share?
The magic of glow sticks
There is something almost magical about glow sticks. Children love them and they are so much fun to play with. They are also fairly inexpensive, so grab a few packages and go have fun with your children. You will probably find that your children will quickly come up with their own ideas, so I would encourage you to follow their lead and play along. However, if you are looking for some inspiration I ‘vve found five ways for you to have fun with glow sticks.
Five ways to have fun with glow sticks
- Gold Jellybean has a tutorial for making glow jars
- Lil’ Luna gives instructions for glow in the dark Easter Egg Hunt.
- Reading Confetti provides instructions for making glow in the dark fireflies. Don’t stop there, invite your children to make other pictures
- A Little Learning for Two shows you how to make a glow stick ring toss
- Glow stick tag sounds like fun. You might adapt this to play hide and glow seek.
If you have children who are interested in things scientific, this is a fun video about luminescence.
Looking for more glow in the dark activities?
A word of caution
Pinterest has a number of pins for activities involving glow sticks that look really impressive. Unfortunately a number of them don’t work very well. Some feature prominently on the famous “Pinterest Fail” or “Nailed It” lists. When I was researching for this post one idea that fell short over and over again was called “fairies in a jar.” Too bad as it looks enchanting. Sadly it seems that this idea doesn’t work as well as the photoshopped picture indicates! If you find something on Pinterest that looks like fun, you might want to test it first, so you don’t end up with disappointed children.
Glow sticks are labeled non-toxic, but be cautious if you are doing something that requires you to break them open. Make sure the children do not get the liquid in their eyes or mouths.
Have you had fun with glow sticks? What activities would you recommend?