This year has been tough on kids, with many trying to cope with learning from home and having limited access to their friends. Birthday parties are conducted over Zoom, trips to see extended family have been canceled, and even little things like school Valentines exchanges have been scrapped. There’s been a lot of worry about whether kids will be able to keep up with their academic skills during COVID, but in my opinion, not nearly enough about their needs for wellness and social-emotional support.
One group who has been thinking a lot about this is a nostalgic and timeless favorite— the Peanuts gang. If you were like me, Snoopy and the Gang brought so much comfort whenever they showed up on TV throughout the year when we were kids. They were a feel good source of entertainment that helped normalize a lot of the trials and tribulations of growing up. I could think of no one better to lend some emotional support to kids today, as they stay at home.
For those who don’t know, Peanuts has been working with educational group YMI on curriculum for kids ranging from 5-12 (which includes STEM, language arts, social studies and math) that they have been providing to schools for the past several years. At the beginning of the pandemic, they made all their worksheets, resources and educational activities available for free for parents who suddenly found themselves teaching from home. We used one of their science activities back in March, building a spacecraft from household supplies and then launching it from the second floor to see if we could land an egg without it cracking.
The newest part of their educational offerings are part of a new initiative called “Take Care with Peanuts,” which draws upon themes of wellness, community, and environmental engagement, to motivate kids to be good global citizens. They have partnered with GoNoodle to launch a one-minute video monthly throughout 2021 that inspires children to ‘take care’ of themselves, each other, and the planet. Each video will be followed up by a downloadable lesson or activity that amplifies the social-emotional messages of the video.
We did the first activity last week which is “Take Care of Each Other.” First, we watched the video which is adorable. It shows Charlie Brown putting up a Caring Tree. He tells Snoopy that he is going to hang a heart on the tree every time he does something caring for someone else. You can watch the video here.
Next, we downloaded the worksheets which gives instructions on how to create our own caring tree, gives examples of different ways you can show someone you care and comes with printable hearts to fill out with acts of caring.
We talked about things we have done in the past, like how Harlow has given food and blankets to a man named Kevin who is homeless in our neighborhood. I’m not sure if you followed that story on Instagram, but Harlow’s kindness led to my followers donating $1800 to Kevin for the holidays. Mazzy mentioned the time we wrote holiday cards to a Holocaust survivor who is stuck at her nursing home due to COVID and not able to have family come visit.
We talked about small ways you can be kind too, like giving someone a compliment or helping them out with a chore. Harlow told me that I was very pretty and then filled in “I took care by: complimenting mommy” on one of her hearts. Mazzy grabbed Harlow’s empty bowl of chips and put it in the sink and then her crumpled napkin and threw it in the trash. “I took care by: throwing out my sister’s garbage.”
We discussed what kind of tree we wanted to make. I laid out the options listed— we could use the Woodstock tree provided, we could each draw our own tree, we could make a family tree on the back of our front door in chalk and put the hearts up with magnets, or we could buy a tree-like plant that we could keep in the apartment.
It was unanimous. Mazzy and Harlow wanted the real tree.
The next day, Mazzy went back to in-person school but Harlow was still at home, so after lunch, we went across the street to a plant shop. There weren’t a ton of options that looked like you could hang hearts on it, but in the end, we walked out with this beautiful addition to our home.
Then we filled out a few hearts, cut them out and hung them.
Mommy getting complimented was the first heart that found a home in the tree.
That heart was followed by giving money to Kevin and getting a Valentine’s Day gift for her sister, which we did next. Harlow wanted all the hearts to represent new acts of caring, instead of focusing on things we had already done.
I think it’s the most perfect tradition to start on Valentine’s Day. A tree to show how kindness grows.
I think we are going to need a bigger tree soon.
When Mazzy got home, we talked about other ways we could show people we care. We all decided to shower Daddy with compliments. Thank him for making dinner, tell him how much we appreciate all he does for us, compliment him on his shirt. “What’s going on???” Mike asked after feeling like things were getting a little suspicious. We all smiled slyly at each other and laughed. “Just showing you home much we care about you, Daddy,” Mazzy said. It started as a joke but it really did bring us so many smiles and great energy during dinner. Mike said some kind words in return, because kindness is definitely catching.