Go Back to School With Camp Kinda

This year’s back-to-school season might require a little more preparation than normal years, especially for students who were remote all year, or little ones who haven’t been in their new buildings yet. Camp Kinda (and Camp Kinda, Jr.) have you covered. Take a look at our Destination: School adventures to get geared up and ready to roll. You’ll find activities like these and more:

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Clean out your gross backpack! Did you know you can throw the whole thing in the washing machine? The important part is to open all the zippers and put it in a washable bag or pillowcase first. Learn more from the pros at Whirlpool, including instructions for hand-washing as well. CHECK IT OUT

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Set up a landing zone. Get ready for school by creating a landing zone at home—a place where you can put your backpack and any other papers when you get home each day.

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And just for little campers... Make your own crayons! Got a lot of old, broken crayons lying around? Learn how to recycle them and make cool new ones! CHECK IT OUT

Celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so it’s a great time to do some family learning, reading, and viewing together to celebrate.

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Put the spotlight on Asian-American and Pacific Islander voices and stories with these recommended books. There’s something here for every kid (and grown-up) reader in your house. CHECK IT OUT

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Scroll through this slideshow to find links to cool resources on Asian-American history and art from the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and more. VISIT

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Enjoy a family viewing of “Linsanity,” a documentary about Taiwanese-American basketball phenom Jeremy Lin. It’s available on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and other streaming platforms. As always, check out the Common Sense Media review to make sure it’s a good fit for your family. WATCH

Interview Your Kids

It’s been a wild year in all our lives, and not one we’ll soon forget. Have you asked your kids what they’ll remember most? This week, document their perspectives by interviewing them.

Work with your kids to put together a list of questions: What have you missed the most during the pandemic? Can you tell me about something good that has come out of this experience? What has been especially hard for you? What has been kinda fun? You can record the interview on your phone, or write their answers down. Then turn the tables and let them interview you.

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If you want, try using the StoryCorps app to record your interviews. StoryCorps offers tips and tricks for crafting good questions and making the most out of your interview. CHECK IT OUT

Dinnertime Read-Aloud

Dinnertime is for eating, right? Sure, we love to eat. But it’s also a vital time for connecting as a family after long and busy days. Talking is great (and we’ve got quirky questions to jumpstart your conversations), but have you tried reading together? With World Book Day coming up on April 23, there’s no time like the present to give this a try.


Here’s how it works: Start with your youngest family member and let them pick a book, any book. Then read it aloud while you eat. That’s it! Next time, let someone else choose the reading material. If your kids are old enough to get into novels, choose something everyone will enjoy and try reading a chapter a day. You can even pass the book around and take turns reading. Just remind them not to read with their mouths full.

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PragmaticMom offers tons of great book recommendations on her blog, with a focus on diverse stories and #OwnVoices books (those authored by writers who share an identity with the experiences portrayed in the story). Start with her recommended Asian American books for kids, and go from there. CHECK IT OUT

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And if you’re looking for more, we’ve got some of our own favorites by Black authors here. READ

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Here are some we love that celebrate Latinx stories and voices. LET'S GO

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And here’s a great roundup of children’s books featuring trans, gender expansive, and non-binary kids. VISIT

All the Festivals of Spring!

This week, many families are celebrating holidays that usher in the new season, from Easter and Passover to Holi, the Hindu festival of spring, and April Fools, the annual festival of jokes. Whatever you’re celebrating this week, enjoy learning about these holidays together.

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It isn’t every year that Passover and Easter overlap, but this year they do. Why do these holidays hop around every year? Turns out, it has to do with the lunar calendar. READ

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If your kids need a quick rundown of all the different spring celebrations, PBS Kids offers some short explainer videos. VISIT

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In India, the festival of Holi welcomes spring with...color! Watch this National Geographic video to get a taste of the experience. CHECK IT OUT

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Why do we play jokes on each other on April 1st? April Fools Day has a surprisingly long history. LET'S GO

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Enjoy a family viewing of “Hop,” a comedy from the makers of “Despicable Me” about a bunny who was destined for Easter, but just wanted to rock and roll. It’s rentable on YouTube. (As always, check out the Common Sense Media review to make sure it’s a good fit for your family.) WATCH

Women’s History Month Bonanza

In addition to being the Longest Month of All Months, March is also when we give an extra shout-out to women’s history. Celebrate at home with this collection of resources.

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Enjoy this Common Sense Media-recommended collection of movies to celebrate the experiences and accomplishments of women and girls around the world. WATCH

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There’s something for everyone and every day in this toolkit from the National Women’s History Museum. Explore exhibits, videos, and more. CHECK IT OUT

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Younger family members will enjoy this read-aloud of Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts. It’s read by Senator Elizabeth Lockman, a state senator representing Delaware’s third district. LISTEN

The Video Game Showdown

Video games might sound like something your kids do on their own time (and maybe they are). But there’s serious fun to be had when you make it a family affair, and you don’t need a gaming system to play. Check out these free or low-cost online games that can include everyone in your house—and your Zoom family, too.

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“It was Professor Peacock in the library with the candlestick!” Surely you remember Clue, the classic board game. We still recommend the analog version, but try the multi-player online version to include virtual friends and family in the mystery solving, too. There are a few different sites that will let you play online, or you can download the Clue game app from the Apple or Google app stores. PLAY

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Build your world (maybe one without a raging global pandemic?) in Minecraft. Minecraft Classic is available for free online play. PLAY

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Explore the outdoors from indoors with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, the online version of the popular Nintendo Switch game that you can download and play on a PC or Mac. PLAY

Black History Month Viewing List

Curl up on the couch and stay warm this Black History Month with these must-watch films for the whole family. All of these films are rentable on YouTube, and don’t forget to check the Common Sense Media reviews to make sure they’re a good fit for your family before tuning in.

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In "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (PG), young Miles Morales becomes the new Spider-Man. An animated film for Spider-Man fans of all ages (or at least tweens and up). WATCH

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This 1997 version of "Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella" (G) stars Brandy in the title role and also features Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother. That’s all we need to say, right WATCH

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"A Ballerina’s Tale" (not rated) is a documentary that takes viewers into the life of Misty Copeland, the first Black principal dancer in New York City Ballet. The aspiring performers in your house will especially enjoy this one. WATCH

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"Remember the Titans" (PG) is a year-round favorite around here. This film is based on the true story of a newly integrated high school football team in Alexandria, VA in 1971. It stars Denzel Washington, who gives an excellent performance, as always. WATCH

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"Drumline" (PG-13) is the story of Devon, a young man who earns a college scholarship for his drum playing. While his marching band is under pressure to beat their rivals, Devon’s teacher is focused on instilling the power of music and character. WATCH

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We can’t not include "Black Panther" (PG-13) on this list, the first Marvel film to center a Black superhero. This one is a must-watch for families with slightly older kids. WATCH

The Year of the Ox Is Coming

The Lunar New Year, celebrated by families in many East and Southeast Asian countries, marks the turn of the “lunisolar” calendar. Based on these traditions, 2021 is the Year of the Ox. The Lunar New Year is usually a time for huge celebrations, and although they’ll probably look different this year, there’s still plenty you can do at home to welcome the new year.

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In Vietnam, the new year festival is called Tet. In Tibet, it’s Losar. In Korea, Seollal. Watch this video to learn about Lunar New Year celebrations all over Asia. WATCH

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Celebrate with this lion dance, performed in Bangkok, Thailand. WATCH

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Learn about Chinese traditions associated with the new year, from special dishes to cook to how to write and say “Happy New Year” in Mandarin. READ

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You’ve heard of the Great Wall. You’ve probably seen pictures. But have you ever wondered where it starts? Travel to China to visit the spot where the Great Wall meets the sea, thanks to Atlas Obscura. VISIT

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If you have access to Netflix, enjoy a family viewing of "Over the Moon," a new animated film about a young girl who uses her science skills to build a rocket—and ends up taking herself to the moon. As usual, check out the Common Sense Media review to make sure this film is a good fit for your family. WATCH

Celebrate Black History Month at Home

February is Black History Month, and if you’re not already filling your home with Black history, literature, art, and community all year round, now is a great time to start. We’ve got some suggestions for things to read, watch, and do as a family—and we’d love to hear what you’re up to, too.

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Whether you’re a fan of fiction or nonfiction, poetry or drama, our team has favorite books by Black authors for every age. READ

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Your kids have probably learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. They might know Rosa Parks’ story, too. But have they met Dr. Daniel Hale Williams? What about other influential Black scientists and inventors? Check out this animated history lesson from 88 Brains. WATCH

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If you haven’t seen it already (or even if you have!), enjoy a family viewing of Hidden Figures. This film captures the stories of Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, NASA engineers who played key roles in launching astronaut John Glenn into orbit in 1962. As usual, read the Common Sense Media review to make sure it’s a good fit for your family. The film is available on Disney+ or rentable on YouTube, Amazon, and other platforms. WATCH

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Mari Copeny, aka “Little Miss Flint,” is a young activist who is already making history for her work advocating for clean water in her hometown of Flint, MI and around the world. Meet Mari in this short video. WATCH

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Speaking of young activists, remember Marley Dias, the teen who launched a campaign to collect and donate 1,000 books about Black girls when she was still in elementary school? (Spoiler alert: She ended up collecting more than 12,000 books.) These days, Marley has a new venture over at Netflix. If you have the streaming service at home, your youngest family members might enjoy Bookmarks: Celebrating the Black Experience, which features Black celebrities doing read-alouds of picture books by Black authors. Here’s the trailer. WATCH

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Dance Theatre of Harlem is a world-renowned, predominantly Black ballet company based in Harlem, NY, where they also run a school for dancers as young as three years old. Check out this video of DTH performers dancing through their hometown. CHECK IT OUT

Family Game Night

Our hours of daylight are gradually extending again, but they’re still too limited for after-dinner outdoor excursions. It’s tempting to return to screens for the evening downtime, but how about some family games instead? These three options make for a fun night for everyone—no special equipment required.

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20 Questions is a classic game that can be played at home, in the car, while you’re waiting in a long line for a Covid-19 test—wherever you happen to be. One person thinks of an object and the rest of the group has to figure out what it is, asking only up to 20 questions. But if you’ve been there and done that already, here are five other “thinking games” that you might not have tried before. PLAY

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You’ve played Charades, but have you heard of Fishbowl? If you’ve got 4 people or more, give this one a try. (You could even bring in extra family or friends on Zoom!) All you need is some scraps of paper, a pen, a bowl to put them in, and a timer. PLAY

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For a quieter “on paper” game for two, try Dots and Boxes. Here’s how to play. PLAY

Celebrate MLK, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be celebrated this year on Monday, January 18 (Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929). This week, take some time to talk about Dr. King’s legacy and the history of civil rights in this country.

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For younger family members, National Geographic Kids has a good introduction to Dr. King’s life and accomplishments. CHECK IT OUT

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You’ve undoubtedly read Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, but have you seen live footage of Dr. King delivering the speech? Even if you have, watch it again with your kids: Reading Dr. King’s words is powerful, but hearing him speak them is even more so. WATCH

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For families with mature tweens and teens, consider a viewing of “Selma,” director Ava DuVernay’s depiction of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the months leading up to the famous Selma-to-Montgomery march for voters’ rights. Before viewing, check out the Common Sense Media review to make sure it’s a good fit for your family (and know that the film contains racial slurs, historically accurate violence, and other content that may be difficult for young viewers). The movie is available for rent on YouTube or Amazon. WATCH

Ring In 2021 with a Virtual Arts Festival

2020 was a year of loss, but it was also a year that artists and arts organizations got creative about how to bring joy to people all over the world when we couldn’t come together in person. Celebrate the new year by enjoying these virtual musical and dance performances.

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Students from Berklee College of Music created this virtual performance of “What the World Needs Now” way back at the start of the shutdown—in fact, one student came up with the idea when she was on her way home from college. But it hasn’t gotten old; if anything, it’s more uplifting than ever. LISTEN

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In June, the same Berklee students organized a global group of over 300 musicians and vocalists to perform an original song, “Rebuild,” to raise money for the NAACP and Americans for the Arts. LISTEN

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the premiere dance companies in the world. Mr. Ailey originally choreographed “Cry” as a birthday present for his mother, and it went on to become one of his company’s iconic works. Enjoy this virtual performance by leading women from Ailey companies past and present, as they perform “Cry” from living rooms, rooftops, and dance studios across the country. WATCH

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If you enjoyed that, watch Ailey’s signature work, “Revelations,” a celebration of African-American culture and heritage. A must-watch performance! WATCH

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If all this dance makes you want to get moving, check out the yoga, dance, and fitness workshops led by Ballet Hispánico. Here’s Fitness for Pequeños, geared toward the little ones, but there’s something for the whole family on their website. CHECK IT OUT

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If you’ve got family members who need a little more coaxing to sit down for a traditional music or dance performance, check out what the folks from “Stomp” can do with...brooms. (If this is a hit, there’s plenty more, too.) CHECK IT OUT

The Kinda Holiday Viewing Guide

Sure, there will be fewer family gatherings this year than usual, but let’s make lemonade out of our holiday lemons by spending time together catching up on our holiday viewing. You’ve probably seen Home Alone, Elf, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (Worth an annual re-watch!) How about some other options your family might not have seen? To check out the Common Sense Media reviews of each option below, just click the program title. (P.S. Have your own holiday favorites? Send us your recommendations!)

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CLASSIC CLASSICS: The Stuff Your Kids May or May Not Want to Watch With You

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"It’s a Wonderful Life." Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, who wishes he had never been born. Lucky for him (and us), a Christmas angel shows him how much better he has made his community. It’s funny in a bittersweet way and full of great characters. Even better, NBC will broadcast it in primetime on Christmas Eve. CHECK IT OUT

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"Miracle on 34th Street." The original film from 1947 is a delight, featuring Maureen O’Hara as a Macy’s executive who may or may not have hired the real Santa Claus to work in her store. Caregivers of young children should remember that the film openly discusses the possibility that Santa is fictional (gasp!), but by the end you’ll be a believer. Not shown on broadcast television very often anymore, but it can be streamed for subscribers on Disney+ or rented from YouTube. CHECK IT OUT

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MODERN CLASSICS: Some Parental Guidance May Be Necessary

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"Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey." Forest Whitaker is a brilliant inventor facing hard times when he gets a visit from his granddaughter. A great cast, music by John Legend (!), and all-around a heart-warming, whole-family story. Streamable on Netflix. CHECK IT OUT

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"The Preacher’s Wife." This one has a lot in common with It’s a Wonderful Life, but the angel character is played by Denzel Washington. If that’s not enough to entice you, there’s also a sizable helping of Whitney Houston, so there’s more than enough star power to go around. It can be streamed by premium subscribers on Hulu or rented on YouTube. CHECK IT OUT

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"Nightmare Before Christmas." This entertaining, off-beat stop-motion animated film by Tim Burton is recommended for kids 9 and up due to the complexity of the story and the nature of the content. Freeform will air it beginning December 10, or subscribers can stream it on Disney+. CHECK IT OUT

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"Feliz NaviDAD." Mario Lopez plays the aforementioned dad in this brand new romantic “dramedy” (there’s some grief and loss depicted) about a high school principal whose teenage daughter wants to help him find another chance at love. Stream it on Hulu. CHECK IT OUT

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"Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker." Good luck getting your kids to sit through the original Nutcracker, but try this one instead—a documentary following Debbie Allen, a groundbreaking dancer and choreographer, as she and her dance students prepare to stage their own contemporary version of the classic show. This film is a great choice for families that don’t celebrate Christmas or need a break from the same themes. Stream it on Netflix. CHECK IT OUT

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KID PICKS: Totally Safe for the Kids to Watch Solo

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"Arthur Christmas." No, this is not a Christmas special featuring Arthur the aardvark. It’s an animated feature film by the same team that brought us Chicken Run and Wallace. It’ll be a big hit with your kids, and can be watched on-demand through Starz or rented. CHECK IT OUT

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"How the Grinch Stole Christmas." We’re talking about the original 1966 television version with narration from Boris Karloff—not the overdone recent remakes. You can rent it from YouTube. CHECK IT OUT

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"Frosty the Snowman." Some kids can get a little frightened when Frosty starts to melt, but this half-hour cartoon from 1969 will still make you a jolly, happy soul. It’ll be airing on Freeform on December 24, or you can watch it for free on YouTube. CHECK IT OUT

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"KT and Me: A Kwanzaa Family Special." Part live action, part animation, this 45-minute film follows a young boy who learns the meaning of Kwanzaa with help from his family and a magical animal friend. You can rent it on KidPositive TV. CHECK IT OUT

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"The Snowman." This is a short and sweet adaptation of the classic children’s story by Raymond Briggs (also featuring David Bowie—surprise!). It’ll hold the attention of even the youngest viewers. It’s streamable on Amazon Prime and YouTube. CHECK IT OUT

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"The Snowy Day." Still on the snow theme, here’s one more charming book adaptation for young viewers, this one based on Ezra Jack Keats’ story. You can watch it on Amazon Prime. CHECK IT OUT

Celebrations of Darkness and Light

The holiday break is upon us, and it’s a fun time to enjoy learning about and sampling a variety of winter holiday traditions.

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We all know the winter solstice (December 21) is the shortest day of the year, but do you know how it’s celebrated? Here’s a short article to read together about eight winter solstice traditions from different parts of the world, from Ancient Rome to the Middle East to the Americas and back. READ

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For Christians, Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Many people celebrate by lighting one candle in an evergreen wreath each Sunday until Christmas. The candles usually represent hope, love, joy, and peace. Even if you don’t celebrate, making a wreath is a fun and crafty way to celebrate the season. Here’s a “handy” (see what we did there) little DIY wreath for younger kids. CHECK IT OUT

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Kwanzaa celebrates African-American culture and heritage, and like many other winter holidays, it also involves lighting candles. Beginning on December 26, the seven days of Kwanzaa each honor a different principle, like unity, purpose, and self-determination. Learn a little more about Kwanzaa in this PBS Kids video. WATCH

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Families with older kids may enjoy this longer article and 10-minute documentary, “The Black Candle,” about the origins of Kwanzaa and its importance for Black communities around the world—not just in the United States. WATCH

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Read more about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and then test your family’s knowledge with a quick memory game. PLAY

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel...

So many of the winter holidays are all about letting in light during the darkest days, which feels extra-appropriate as we wrap up this long and difficult year. This week, Jewish families are celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Even if you’re not celebrating, in this week’s family adventure you can learn about the Hanukkah legend, other Jewish traditions, and try your hand at a game of dreidel.

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What does Hanukkah celebrate? This short animated video gives a family-friendly explanation, so it’s a good place to start if your kids are unfamiliar with the holiday. WATCH

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Take a family audio tour of the Jewish Museum in New York City. They have an entire room of menorahs, and so much more. LISTEN

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You probably know how the song goes… “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay…” But who has time for clay right now? Set the kids up to make their own dreidels using just paper and a pencil. CHECK IT OUT

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Once they’ve made their dreidels, try a family dreidel match-up. You don’t have to use chocolate coins (called “gelt”) for the game pieces, but we highly recommend that there’s some form of chocolate involved, because why not? PLAY

Refresh Your Holiday Traditions

So this year’s holiday season isn’t going to look like years’ past. All right. Chins up—that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had.

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Go on a neighborhood lights and decorations tour. Head out on foot around your neighborhood, or hop in the car and travel further afield in search of the best holiday decorations. (A little googling might turn up recommendations for local areas with especially good holiday displays.) Whatever you do, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, some snacks, and make it special: Maybe everyone wears their pajamas and stays up late, too.

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DIY deck the halls. Even if you’re not normally into crafting (raises hand!) or holiday decorations (raises hand, again!), this might be the year to challenge yourself. Whatever your family celebrates, decorating for it doesn’t have to be expensive. Send the kids out to collect fallen leaves, twigs and evergreen branches, or acorns that can be painted silver and gold. Construction paper garlands are fun and easy, even for the non-crafters among us, and paper cut-out snowflakes are literally impossible to do wrong because, well, every snowflake is different. CHECK IT OUT

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Virtual friends and family bake-off. Maybe you’ve seen The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, where contestants compete to create the most beautiful and delicious cakes, cookies (well, biscuits, because it’s British), and more. Try your own version with friends or family members from afar: Pick a theme or type of baked good, get your ingredients lined up, set a time limit, and get everyone on Zoom to do their baking. Of course, there’s no winner here, since you can’t taste each other’s creations, but since everyone ends up with something yummy and gets to enjoy each other’s company in the meantime, everyone wins.

Family Story Hour

Our stories are a reflection of who we are: the narratives that capture our unique experiences and perspectives. This year has been an extraordinary one by any means, full of ups and downs. (Okay, a lot of downs, to be sure, but we hope some ups, too.) Before the year ends, spend some time coming together to craft and share your family stories.

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Record a StoryCorps interview. StoryCorps is a nonprofit that allows people to record one-on-one interviews that are archived in the Library of Congress. You can record a story in person or virtually through one of StoryCorps’ recording sites, or use their free app right from home. CHECK IT OUT

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Create a family time capsule. Okay, it might feel like 2020 is a year to forget, but eventually, your kids will want to tell their kids what went down. Have a family discussion about what should go in a time capsule of this year (a mask, anyone?). Then put a few things together in a shoebox or a Tupperware container, write a letter together to share a few memories, and hide it away.

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Tell a story through food. After tasting a cup of steaming champurrado, think of a dish or beverage that reflects something about your family (a fond memory, your neighborhood culture, your family’s roots, etc.), cook it up, and enjoy. Have the kids write down the recipe for future use, too. CHECK IT OUT

Your Thanksgiving Family Viewing Guide

Put your feet up and enjoy some holiday entertainment for every age (and streaming platform). As always, don't forget to check out the Common Sense Media reviews to make sure these films are a good fit for your family.

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"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" won’t be airing on network television this year. Don’t worry! You can still watch it for free—no subscription required!—on Apple+ TV from November 25 to 27. Watch as Charlie Brown hosts a disastrous meal for his friends—but in the process, the Peanuts discover the true meaning of the holiday. WATCH

2

Hulu subscribers can stream "Free Birds," an animated feature that follows two turkeys who travel back in time to get turkey off the menu at the first Thanksgiving. WATCH

3

Netflix subscribers may enjoy a holiday episode of "Fuller House," appropriately titled "A Fuller Thanksgiving." WATCH

4

Amazon Prime subscribers can stream "A Garfield Thanksgiving," an animated television special that follows Jon’s attempt to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a date. WATCH

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Not a fan of Garfield? Amazon is also streaming "The Gruffalo," a 28-minute animated version of the popular children’s book. WATCH

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Families with teens may enjoy "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," a PG-13 comedy from 1987 that follows two traveling businessmen—played by John Candy and Steve Martin—as they try to get home for Thanksgiving. It’s available to rent via multiple platforms. (Families with cable subscriptions that include the AMC channel can watch this film for free on-demand in November.) WATCH

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"Remember the Titans" is a perfect family film to enjoy anytime on Thanksgiving weekend. Starring Denzel Washington, it tells the true story of the integration of the football team at TC Williams High School in Virginia. It’s rentable on YouTube. WATCH

Learn About the Real History of Thanksgiving

Many of us grew up with the myth of Thanksgiving as a peaceful meal at Plymouth Rock, shared between the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. History tells us that a shared meal did happen—but the real story is far more complicated. This holiday season, instead of passing along the myth, engage with your kids about the real history of Thanksgiving.

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“Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?” That’s the question asked in this blog post by a Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian author. The writer explores his own relationship to Thanksgiving, and also collects comments from American Indian readers across the country. READ

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This interactive activity developed by Plimoth Plantation allows students to explore the history of the first Thanksgiving by putting themselves in the shoes of two people who were really there. Two children who are descendants of real people at the harvest meal will be your guides through primary source materials, oral histories, and other artifacts. CHECK IT OUT

3

This comprehensive poster from the National Museum of the American Indian is designed for educators, but it provides tons of information and resources that families can use to talk about the history of Thanksgiving and the experiences of Indigenous peoples in America. READ

Pillow Fighting and Fort Building 101

It’s time to prepare for the long winter by building critical survival skills for the whole family. Are we referring to storing non-perishables and chopping firewood? You do you, but right now we’re talking about pillow fighting and fort building.

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Get some of that pent-up energy out with a good old-fashioned pillow fight. The rules: (1) Safety first. Use fluffy, bed-type pillows, not those harder-edged couch cushions, and hit with the flat parts, not the corners. Stage the battle in a room with plenty of space and no sharp edges or fragile items. (2) Teams are acceptable (grown-ups vs. kids, lefties vs. righties, etc.). (3) Agree on a code word for when it’s over (we like “TRUCE!”). As soon as someone—anyone—calls it, everyone agrees to stop.

2

Make a blanket fort three ways with the help of this how-to video and some things you probably already have around the house (you’ll need sheets or blankets, pillows, clothes pins, and a long piece of rope or string). CHECK IT OUT

Travel to India for Diwali

Holiday travel might not be on the agenda, but armchair (and kitchen!) travel is always an option. With Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, coming up on November 14, let’s take a virtual vacation to the world’s second most populous nation.

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Start by whipping up this week’s “samosadillas” and mango lassis. CHECK IT OUT

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Head over to National Geographic Kids to read all about Diwali and view a slideshow of photos from the Indian celebration. CHECK IT OUT

3

Enjoy "Nidhi’s Lunch Box," an award-winning short film (in Hindi with subtitles) about a little girl who shares her lunch. WATCH

4

Take a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal, one of the seven “new wonders of the world.” LET'S GO

5

Finish up by visiting Camp Kinda for a trip to the Himalayas via rail. VISIT

The Family That Votes Together...

With the presidential election coming up on Tuesday, your kids are surely hearing a lot of talk about voting—early voting, voting-by-mail, how to vote safely on Election Day. And even if they’re preschoolers, they’re probably paying attention.

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If you’re voting by mail and have your ballot at home, take a look at it with your kids. Talk about why we vote—not just for the president, but for all kinds of state and local positions, too. Got ballot questions? What are the issues on the ballot in your local community and how do the kids feel about them? Voting for a whole bunch of local judges? Why does that matter? Encourage the kids to make their own ballots, so everyone can vote together.

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Why do we vote on the first Tuesday in November? Take a look at this short explainer from PBS and talk about as a family. WATCH

3

Try these non-partisan family activity booklets from Kids Voting USA for short lessons and games about the upcoming election. (Pick Level I or Level II, depending on the ages of your kids.) CHECK IT OUT

4

What is the electoral college, anyway? Make the most of this teachable moment with this TED-Ed video. WATCH

Peep Some Leaves (and More)

There are very few outside-your-home adventures that are safer these days than being out in nature, away from crowds, and enjoying fresh air and beautiful views. Before winter sets in, maximize your outdoor time and head out to explore a state (or national) park.

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Pack up a picnic, grab your masks, and find your nearest park, forest, or wildlife refuge. VISIT

Something Scary for Everyone

Missing the chance to visit a real cobweb-draped, ghosts-in-the-doorway, what’s-around-the-corner haunted house? Once again, the internet has you covered (kinda).

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Check out this list of virtual tours of historical mansions, haunted cruise ships, and even the hotel room that inspired The Shining. (Enter at your own risk.) VISIT

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Littler ones not ready for the haunted house tours? Enjoy a family viewing of "DreamWorks Spooky Stories," featuring favorite characters from "Shrek" and "Monsters vs. Aliens." WATCH

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Take it off-screen, turn the overheads off and a flashlight on, and read some good old-fashioned ghost stories together. "Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark" never gets old. READ

Celebrate Latinx Heritage Month Together

Have you had a chance to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month yet? Here are a few ideas:

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Start by dishing up our easy (ish) empanadas. CHECK IT OUT

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Next, check out Coco as a family. This Disney/Pixar film tells the story of a little boy’s dream of becoming a musician, despite his family’s objections. It’s a moving celebration of Mexican traditions, voiced by a nearly all-Latinx cast. (As always, check out the Common Sense Media review to make sure it’s a good fit for your family.) WATCH

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Finally, choose a book (or three!) to read together. This month and all year, infuse your home library with amazing books by Latinx authors, starting with our favorites for readers of all ages. READ

DIY Frozen Treats

With winter coming, frozen dessert weather is on its way out for the year. (Unless you believe—like we do in our house—that it’s never too cold for ice cream, in which case by all means carry on.) Either way, celebrate the last gasps of balmy weather by making your own frozen treats right at home, no fancy equipment required.

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The internet is full of ideas for how to make ice cream without a machine, but they’re not all created equal. The Kitchn test drove a bunch of methods to find the best of the bunch. CHECK IT OUT

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More of a popsicle family than ice cream? To each their own. Try these easy yogurt popsicles. CHECK IT OUT

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If you’re not from New Orleans, you might not know the beauty that is the snoball. But since hopping a flight to the Big Easy isn’t a great option for out-of-towners these days, this at-home recipe is the next best thing. CHECK IT OUT

Tell the Funniest Family Story

Nothing brings us together like a good story. Parents, what’s the very best story that no one else in your family has heard you tell before? (Tip: Pick something from your childhood.) Maybe it’s something you did with your friends. Surely it was an event you will never forget.

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Before you share your own story, learn together about successful storytelling by watching a play-by-play breakdown of comedian Jim Carrey telling his own funny story during a visit to David Letterman’s television show. WATCH

Take a Virtual Vacation

Let’s be honest: We could all use a vacation right now. But between quarantines and budget concerns, most of us aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. That doesn’t mean we can’t kinda escape, though. Get everyone together and try something different with these virtual vacation experiences.

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Would you like to swim with hammerhead sharks? Dive in with this 360-degree video from National Geographic. LET'S GO

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How about hitting the highway to see the world’s largest roadside attractions? (Who knew the world’s largest ketchup bottle is in Illinois?) VISIT

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Didn’t make it to the amusement park this summer? You’ll still be thrilled by a ride on the Steel Vengeance at Ohio’s Cedar Point. CHECK IT OUT