FamilyFun May 2015

Every digital issue ( 8 a year) is a wealth of do-able ideas to help you with everything from making a creative sack lunch to planning a birthday party with ease. Look at everything you get ... • Family-favorite recipes that are quick, easy and inexpensive (and win kisses for the cook!) • Fresh ways to turn ordinary activities into extraordinary adventures that kids and grown-ups will enjoy. • Fun, hands-on crafts for Valentine’s Day and homemade goodies for Christmas ... and every special day in between! • Favorite kid-tested, parent-approved vacation ideas ... plus easy ways to preserve your memories for a lifetime. Get all the help and encouragement you need to make every day with your family better than the day before ... say yes to Family Fun now!

United States
Meredith Corporation
Back issue only


make personal connections

OUR FAMILY’S VACATION road map began to materialize last summer, when 9-year-old Finn asked for a membership to Ancestry.com (go figure). The two of us went right down the rabbit hole, turning up sailors and Puritan settlers up and down the East Coast, including in Groton, Massachusetts, the destination for an October family wedding. Thus inspired, we took 10 days of from school for a study of colonial America, diving deep into the places tied to our forebears’ arrival in the New World. Starting on Cape Cod, we tracked familiar names around Massachusetts, from Concord (my tenth great-grandfather was a founder of that town in 1635), to Salem (where the wife of our eighth great-uncle was the first to be hanged at the witch trials), to Boston-area Revolutionary War battle sites…

scoop up some fun!

set out some parfait bouquets Making these carnation “sundaes” is a great pre-party activity for the kids. Have them place glass marbles in each dish, leaving an inch or so of space at the the top, then add water. Insert the carnations and top with a cherry. pretty garland decoration Set a party mood by hanging a string of these colorful utensils from the serving table. First dip spoons into nontoxic acrylic paint and allow the excess to drip of. Lay the spoons on a protected surface, then sprinkle them with sprinkles (fun to say and do). Use adhesive-backed Velcro dots to attach the dried spoons to a length of rickrack. The spoons look good enough to eat—but don’t let little kids try! make-and-take caps Tell the kids that years ago, folks who made ice…

7 celebrate sunny thinking

We humans evolved to be on the lookout for the bad, what scientists call a “negativity bias.” Sure, this worked for our early ancestors. You don’t want to be admiring the daffodils and oblivious to the charging lion. In the modern world, however, this same tendency can make pessimists of us all. The good news: we can train ourselves to look on the bright side. “Our brains are giant filters, and they look for patterns,” says Christine Carter. “If you practice looking for the good, you’re saying to your brain, ‘This is what’s important.’ You’ll establish new neural connections that way.” One easy technique for encouraging optimism— in your kids and yourself—is a routine Carter started when her daughters were small. At bedtime, she’d take a moment to recount three good…

happiness by the numbers

To read some of the comments from kids who took our survey, see pages 68 and 76. TOP 6 ACTIVITIES that make parents happy 37% Vacations 37% Outings (zoo, playground, museum …) 27% Time with other families or relatives 23% Playing board or video games 22% Eating meals together 22% Celebrating special occasions TOP 6 ACTIVITIES that make kids happy 42% Vacations 35% Celebrating special occasions 31% Playing board or video games 26% Outings (zoo, playground, museum …) 25% Watching movies, TV, or videos together 21% Time with other families or relatives Parents rate their family happiness 17% higher today than when they were kids. On a scale of 1 to 10, they gave their families an average happiness score of 8.1 versus 6.9 for their childhood family. READERS’ DAILY happiness habits 88% Share a meal 88% Laugh together 66% Read books together 33% Discuss things they are grateful for 29% Get active READERS’ WEEKLY happiness…

5 get into gratitude

We know we should teach our kids to appreciate gifts; that’s why the thank-you note to Nana always gets mailed promptly. But teaching them a more general attitude of gratitude can be a powerful bliss-booster as well. “The research shows that the relationship between gratitude and happiness is very, very strong,” says Jeffrey Froh. In one classic study, participants kept a journal for 10 weeks in which they noted five things they felt grateful for each day (a sunset, a call from a friend, the perfect ice cream cone). The result: they felt 25 percent happier at the study’s end. “Gratitude is about savoring the past, present, and also the future,” Froh says. “It’s squeezing the juice out of life and extracting all we can.” A long while before a big…

the gift of fun

IF YOU’VE EVER seen Blue Man Group perform, then you might remember the drummers splashing fluorescent paint into the air and Twinkies disappearing into mouths only to show up a bit later as erupting yellow goo. You’ll definitely remember watching your kids’ faces: the round-eyed wonder, the delighted laughter, the cheeks flushed with excitement. Which is completely the point. Those memories are a gift you get to keep forever. And that’s why my husband, Michael, and I are glad that, around five years ago, we started what some might call a radical policy: we don’t give our kids birthday presents. Instead, we let Ben, now age 15, and Birdy, 12, choose an experience for us all. There was the Blue Man Group show for Ben’s 13th, a trip to Six Flags,…