9 Ideas for Encouraging Your Kids to be Generous

by jessicaturner on July 29, 2016


A generous spirit is a quality I believe most parents long to see their children to possess. Kids who experience life through a generous lens are not only more apt to become generous adults but they’re also more inclined to volunteer, to support important causes, and to become more intentional stewards of their time, finances, and influence.

Matthew and I have long believed that one of the most important ways that we can help change the world is by encouraging our children to be generous advocates for justice, hope, and change.

Of course, that’s a whole lot easier said than done. Let’s face it; we experience some weeks when getting our kids out the door to school with combed hair, matching socks, and a lunch that includes items from every food group is a huge challenge. Fitting in an intentional, creative, and active experience on why it’s important to be generous seems pretty impossible.

While it can sometimes feel like we’re the only parents in the world who struggle to find the time to engage in extracurricular generosity, we know that we’re not. Most of our friends who have kids are in similar boats as us. Which is why I decided to ask some of my friends for advice/ideas on how they teach their kids about the importance of generosity.

What I learned is that, even though the majority of parents don’t have it all figured out and sometimes feel as though they’re parenting failures, lots of parents were able to come to the table with one good idea, something that works for their family.

But remember. These are just ideas to keep in your parenting toolbox. Pick and choose what works for you. And with every ideas that you decide to try, remember to make it age appropriate for your child.

9 Ideas for Encouraging Your Kids to be Generous

1)  Live generously. Nearly every parent I talked to said that one of the most important ways to teach generosity is to simply live generously. Be kind. Compliment often. Let your kids see (not in a showy way) you being neighborly.

Last summer when my mom was in town, the UPS man came to our door on a hot and humid morning. My mom asked, “Can I get you a bottle of water?” The UPS man, though somewhat shocked by the offer, said, “Ma’am, that would be amazing.” What mom did that day left not only an impact on my kids, it left an impact on me, too. So, keep a case of bottled water in the fridge. Give it away on hot summer days.

2) Contact your local public schools. Public school officials are often the first to know about a family’s need for assistance. Often, the needs are basic like school uniform apparel, school supplies, or pantry items. And in most cases, all needs and donations remain anonymous. On several occasions, the kids and I have put together a bag or two of new and gently used items to help a family or student at our local elementary school. With school starting soon, communities have many opportunities to help others. 

3) Read fiction to your child. This advice from Colorado mom, Kathryn, might seem odd at first, but I think it’s fantastic! According to Kathryn, “Do all the voices when you read. Play pretend based on the stories you read to your kids. Immerse them in literature. A number of studies (including this one) suggest that those who read fiction [have] higher levels of empathy. And I think empathy is an extremely healthy basis for generosity.”

Swiffer vs generic

4) Share chores. Remember, generosity is about a lot more than just about giving away money and stuff, it’s about instilling the value of sharing, which that Jodi, a mom to 4 girls, tries to emulate at home. “We try to foster generosity within the family by sharing our household chores. Although we do give allowance, we do not pay for chores. Those are things we all do to contribute to the household. We often say, “Thanks for serving the family today”–not that the girls are always thrilled with this, but I’m not always thrilled to do chores either. We hope the takeaway is a regular reminder that life isn’t all about me, even within our little circle.”

5) Teach global awareness. “Whenever my kid—he’s 9—is learning about a city or state or country,” said a father who wished to remain anonymous, “we sit at the computer together and as we’re collecting the information that he needs for his report or class, I tell him about the challenges that the people in that particular country face. Last year, we talked about India and Poland and it was a really great way to help him learn not only the facts about a country but also about the good and not-so-good realities that people all around world encounter.”

For younger children, you can start even more simply, with books and coloring pages about the world.

6) Be ‘word’ generous. As a mom, one of the things that Sharon teaches her kids is that our words matter, which is why this Mississippi mom says, “[I tell my kids to] be generous with kind words and encouragement.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 9.20.54 PM

7) Give your kids the gift of giving. John, a father of 3 boys, says, “Every Christmas, each kid gets a chunk of money to donate to any charity they choose. Among other things, it give us a chance to show them how to 1). Research and discover good charities, and 2). Think systemically about global problems and be strategic about giving.”

You can request catalogs from many non-profits to give your children a hands-on piece to look at, like this one from World Vision.

8) Celebrate birthdays with donations. “We do donations on birthdays,” says Meg, a mom in Cincinnati. “Each kid gets $20 to give to something their little pre-K hearts’s value.” Because her kids are still young, Meg adds, “I offer them 3 choices because they are tiny and can’t read.”


9) Sponsor a child. Our family sponsors a number of children through World Vision. Our first sponsorship began a year or so after Elias was born. That child’s name is Juan, and he lives in the Dominican Republic. Matthew visited him in April and it was so fun to get to FaceTime him! 

Child sponsorship has been a great way to introduce our kids to the effects of poverty. They certainly can’t comprehend it fully. But child sponsorship has given us an ongoing connection to kids around their age who are affected in various ways to poverty and it’s been a good way to help our kids realize their abilities to help other people. You can sponsor a child here.

Speaking of World Vision, check out their PLAY-It-Forward Challenges: 10 fun family games that help your kids learn how to pay it forward this summer—with stories of real families who’ve made a difference. It’s an excellent resources that I know you’ll love.

What ways do you teach your kids to be generous?


Finding Dory Party Crafts

by jessicaturner on July 28, 2016

Finding Dory Party Crafts
Crafts are always a big hit at children’s birthday parties, so we decided to do three Finding Dory crafts for Adeline’s Finding Dory party.

While I shared briefly about the crafts on the Finding Dory party post, today I wanted to go more in-depth. These crafts could totally be used for an under the sea party or Little Mermaid party.

For the Finding Dory party, I called the craft area “Hank’s Handiwork” and made a little sign to hang over it. I love making signs for party decorations, as they are a great way to bring the theme together. (I hate that I forgot to glue the apostrophe, but I don’t think the kids noticed – ha!)

Finding Dory Party Crafts

Finding Dory Birthday Party and Finding Dory decorations

I had two long folding tables (I love these adjustable ones – best party investment I ever made. Well worth $30 each) + an additional child’s table for the crafts. The tables were covered in blue tablecloths from The Dollar Store, which made clean up easy.

Finding Dory Party Crafts

The kids each picked a station to start at and rotated through all three crafts, which were:

Craft 1: Seashell necklaces

Finding Dory Party Crafts

Because seashells play such an important part in Dory finding her way home and to her parents, the girls made seashell beaded necklaces.

To keep things simple and reduce mess, we had the beads pre-counted and in individual ziplocks. (This was something I had Elias and Adeline do to help with the party. They loved being a part of the prep.) If I had more time, I would have cut the necklace string too!

Seashells (be sure that they have holes in them)
Pony beads

I ordered purple shells from Etsy because purple shells were Dory’s mom’s favorite and bought pony beads and string at a local store.

Craft #2: Open Ocean Exhibits: Mini Aquariums:

Finding Dory party crafts

The children each made mini aquariums, like the open ocean exhibit that Dory’s family lived in. Of the three crafts, these were by far the favorites.


Finding Dory Party Crafts

This craft requires quite a few supplies, so shop around or use craft store coupons to get the best deals. I don’t think you can find the sea creatures or plant life cheaper than Amazon though!

For the assembly of these mini aquariums, have the children put the plants in first, then add the gravel.

Finding Dory Party Crafts

Then add the creatures (we did two per jar) and finally the distilled water.

Finding Dory Party Crafts

Finding Dory Party Crafts

We bought a jug of water with a built in dispenser that made filling them a snap.

Also, everyone’s aquariums will look the same, so have a sharpie on hand to write the child’s name on the top.

Craft 3: Hank the septopus

Finding Dory Party Crafts


Finding Dory Party Crafts

  • small terra cotta pots (I found these in three packs at The Dollar Store, but that’s because it was summer time! Some craft stores carry them year round, or you can buy them online.)
  • Red paint (I sprayed all the pots with red spray paint prior to the party)
  • googly eyes
  • big fuzzy pipe cleaners (bought at Michaels)
  • Glue for the eyes (I like Aleene’s)
  • Glue dots (Be sure to get the thick ones or the pipe cleaners won’t stick)

These little septopuses came together very simply, thanks to few supplies and some preparation before the party. It was important to have all the “tentacles” cut in advance of the party.

The thick glue dots were hard for some of the children to adhere to the pots, so grown-ups might need to help. But in the end, everyone left with a cute septopus of their own!

3 simple Finding Dory crafts to do at a Finding Dory Party

I hope this is helpful if you are planning a Finding Dory party. All the crafts were a huge hit.

For more Finding Dory inspiration check out my Finding Dory party post.


In my 34th year

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It’s my birthday today. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Los Angeles, as I am attending a conference for work. I woke up to text messages and Facebook messages and felt very loved. I’ve been thinking a lot about what this next year will hold. In my 34th year, I’ll travel overseas for the […]

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What Happened When My Son Watched Me Work Out

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A few weeks ago, Elias came with me to work out. The barre studio I was going to that day had childcare, so he brought a backpack with a few books and toys and tagged along. The little childcare area was just off the studio and Elias could peak out the door and see me. […]

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Being Mama Bear

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Before Elias was born, I asked local friends for pediatrician recommendations and interviewed several. We landed on an older woman who had an established practice, came highly recommended and seemed like she would be a great care partner for our family. Which was true…. Sort of. You see, Elias had chronic congestion and ear infections. […]

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$5 Friday Deals – Magazines, Clothes, Jewelry & More

July 22, 2016

If you are looking for some great deals, today is the day! Cents of Style is hosting a Fashion Friday Semi-Annual Clearance Event! Get 50% off the lowest price + FREE SHIPPING with the code HOTCLEARANCE.  Shop this morning for best selection. I found many great deals on clothes, jewelry, scarves, boot cuffs and shoes with prices […]

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Our Family: Right Now

July 21, 2016

It’s been awhile since I have done an update post about our family. After a two year hiatus, I am gearing up to get back into Project Life and think this would be a perfect post to put straight in our family album. Elias Reading: So much reading this summer! Favorite books include The Treehouse […]

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Help Needed: Quick Working Moms Survey

July 19, 2016

As you might know, in addition to my work as a writer and speaker, I work full-time outside the home. Needless to say, I definitely appreciate the challenges working moms face! This summer, I’ve commenced work on a new project exclusively for working moms. Whether you work outside the home, at home, full-time or part-time, […]

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Get The Fringe Hours for FREE – Still Available!

July 15, 2016

Today is the best day ever. Grove Collaborative emailed me and said, “how about we sweeten the Caldrea deal and give new customers a copy of The Fringe Hours?” Obviously, I said yes. To break it down: First-time Grove Collaborative customers who place an order of $20 or more with this link will receive a […]

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I finally get the DVR hype

July 14, 2016

This post is sponsored by XFINITY.  When Matthew and I first got married, cable television was a luxury that we really couldn’t afford. During those first couple years together, our TV received 4, sometimes 5 channels, but honestly, we sort of got used to our lack of viewing options. Eventually though, after our financial situation […]

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