skip navigation
Building Blocks For a Healthy Future Home About Us Links Get Updates Awards
Family Educators Materials
Send this page to a friend E-Mail   |   Print this page Print   |   Subscribe RSS Feed
Animal Characters
spacer Family photosFamily photos

Family Activities
Spend Time Together

Hold Regular Family Meetings

The Activity Book has two good activities called "I Like Being Me" to help your children tell you about themselves. Use the drawings and lists as conversation starters.
Activity Book

Family meetings can assure children that they are needed, contributing members of the family and that they have a say in their lives. If you start family meetings now while your child is young, you will help set the stage for an easier passage through the teen years. Children who can talk with their parents about schedules, money needs, and future plans regularly when they’re young will find it easier to discuss those issues when they are teenagers.

Hold regular meetings but keep them short for the youngest members of the family. You can talk about anything, depending on what your family needs. Talk about activities for family time, or ask for opinions about places to visit together.

Set rules for taking part that everyone should follow. One fun way to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be heard is to use a "speaking stick." The person holding the stick gets to talk. Then, he or she passes the stick to another family member. Keep family meetings as calm as you can and make sure everyone's opinions and ideas are respected, if not actually followed.

Family members can suggest a schedule for household chores, money needs, and bedtime issues. Children who are asked to solve problems in a team will find those skills useful for the rest of their lives.

Cook Together

Cooking together is fun and will help your children learn about food and nutrition.
Introduce your children to the Healthy Snacks song and activities in the Activity Book. Use them to discover your children’s favorite snacks and help them write down and illustrate a favorite recipe.
Activity Book
You’ll also get a chance to teach them about their family’s cultural traditions and heritage as well as those of other people. Cooking also is good preparation for both math and the sciences.

Young children can do many cooking tasks. Three-year-olds can add raisins and chips to cookie dough; 4-year-olds can pour ingredients from a cup into a bowl. Five-year-olds can crack eggs and are strong enough to help stir, and 6-year-olds, with help, can measure flour and other dry ingredients in a measuring cup.

Be patient and have a sense of humor when cooking with children because they may make a mess. But, you will get a chance to teach good nutrition in fun and delicious ways.

Start a refrigerator list of recipes you can cook with your children’s help. If possible, make a picture scrapbook of their favorite snacks and help them learn to “read” it. Whenever your children help you cook for a family meal, make sure everyone else at the meal knows about it.

Going To School

As a parent, your involvement in your children’s schools—even if it’s a part-time, child enrichment program or day care for preschoolers—is an important way to be involved in their lives.

  • Volunteer and attend conferences. Set appointments and visit with your children’s teachers. Come prepared with questions about ways you can support what they are doing, things that worry you, or information about your children’s special needs.
  • Join the PTA (PSO) and attend meetings. You will discover many things you can do for your children’s teachers, and you will be able to track important school decisions and events. Put the events on your calendar and attend them with your children. Volunteer to help in class. You will be able to see your child in the school setting. You can listen to children read and/or read to them and make materials they will use in lessons. If possible, chaperone a field trip.

    If your schedule does not allow you to participate in class, ask your child’s teacher about class projects that could use a helping hand but do not have to be done in the classroom. For example, you could make decorations for a class play, or refreshments for a party or contribute toward a bulletin board display.

At home, in the car, or on a shopping trip, ask your children to share a good thing about school as well as a problem. Celebrate the good things and help them come up with ways to solve the problems.

Volunteer As A Family

Volunteering as a family is positive, leads to a sense of teamwork, shows responsible actions, and lets your children know that their community needs them. Your children also will learn to accept others, gain useful skills, and develop habits that will help them use idle time when they are older.

  • Get your whole family into a situation that is positive.
  • Encourage a sense of teamwork.
  • Model responsible behavior.
  • Help children learn to accept others, gain useful skills, and develop lifelong, active habits.

There are many ways to find places to volunteer—through your place of worship, on the Internet, or through your local volunteer clearinghouse. Let organizations know about your skills and interests, your intentions to volunteer as a family, your time and transportation limits, and any special needs you may have.

Finally, interview the volunteer organization carefully. Will your time be spent in activities that are meaningful to you and your family? Will all the members of your family, despite their ages, be involved together? Once you begin working, make sure you and your family talk after each volunteer experience to be sure that all are enjoying it and achieving their goals.

Please note—to view the Activity Book, you must have Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader software. If you do not already have this software installed on your computer, please download it from Adobe's website.

spacer Site Map | Contact Us | FAQ | Ask SAMHSA | Accessibility | Privacy | Disclaimer | Viewers & Players | FOIA | Plain Language
SAMHSA Logo   HHS Logo
Updated on 3/22/2014