I popped into a little patisserie that hasn’t long been open. They have lots of tempting delights both sweet and savoury and, as it turns out, very nice coffee!

I had still been feeling low and overwhelmed and decided to put together a little envelope containing one of your “Smile because you are …” cards with a $5 note tucked inside and with a big smiley sticker on the front. I attached a little note saying, “Perhaps you know somebody who may be feeling low, somebody dealing with grief or illness. If so, please pass this on and shout them a treat from me. Thank you”.

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The night of December 17, 2016 was horrid. But I found comfort and healing the next day in a very unexpected place – a chaotic, extra crowded mall. A place I rarely go, even outside of the holiday rush.

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I was sitting at a coffee shop researching ideas about kindness when a spontaneous act of kindness occurred.

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Doing kind things for others isn't just about improving someone else's life, it's actually good for our health. There's evidence to prove that kindness can improve mental health, happiness and even prolong life.

After 9 weeks of acts of kindness we conclude the challenge with a really fun, ding-dong ditch type activity. It's a little bit of a cheeky covert operation that will get the adrenaline going.

The idea is to think of someone who could really use a pick-me-up. Decide what you think will cheer them up and get to work making or assembling your gift. 

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There's nothing quite as satisfying as planting a seed, watching it pop through the earth and grow into a beautiful plant. When you make that seed a vegetable, you're also creating a range of learning opportunities for your kids. 

Who would have thought that a humble carrot, pea or pumpkin could bring so much joy and education! You can of course grow flowers or shrubs, but here we'll talk about the benefits of a vegetable garden. 

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One of the things we were able to offer at our outreach program before COVID forced us into lockdown was pre-loved clothing. We would set it up on tables once a month for our members to look through and take what they needed.

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I always say that there is something positive to be found in any adversity. Sometimes it can be hard to see it at the time but there is one very clear one that stands out during the COVID crisis. Stay at home orders have forced families and loved ones to spend more time together and in most instances, that's a good thing.

Having time together is good for relationships. It's a great time for parents to bond with their kids and get to know them a little better. It's also good for learning to work together, help one another and work on patience and understanding (lots of it in some cases!).

This week's challenge is about finding things you can do as a family. How about starting by making a list where everyone includes something they'd like to do together. Here are some examples of what your list could look like:

  • Watch a movie

  • Do a virtual tour of a museum or aquarium

  • Use Zoom to play bingo with family or friends

  • Walk the dog together

  • Make a family dinner

  • Go on a hike

  • Play a board game

  • Have a picnic

  • Do a 1000 piece puzzle

  • Play video games together

  • Make cookies to deliver to the neighbours

  • Take part in a craft activity

  • Make an obstacle course in the backyard

  • Train the dog

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My 94-year-old friend was in a pharmacy buying perfume. As she chose a bottle and put it in her trolley she made a couple of casual remarks about it to a young man who was shopping nearby.

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The COVID crisis has left many grandparents feeling very isolated and vulnerable. Some are suffering terribly, missing their family and friends.

The elderly are often not up with technology and may not be able to connect via a video call but they'd all appreciate hearing the voices of their loved one.

Get your kids to make a special effort to connect with their grandparents or another elderly person they care about. To make it a long and meaningful call, ask them to prepare by writing down some things they'd like to share. If you're lucky enough to be able to organize a video call, show loved ones some pictures or take them on a virtual walk around the house. Let them see pets and anything else they'd usually enjoy and let them know they're loved. 

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Not long ago, I was waiting in a long line at my favorite bakery, which makes some amazing scones. The delicious pile in the glass case dwindled quickly as those in the long line ahead of me snapped them up, until there was just one perfect beauty remaining — and one woman ahead of me. To my everlasting joy, she chose a croissant, so when I got to the counter I pointed to the last scone and declared, “I’ll take that.” No sooner had I spoken than the fellow behind me cried out: “Hey, that’s my scone! I’ve been waiting in line for 20 minutes!” Which he had been — behind me.

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Teaching and learning has undergone some significant changes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and teachers are adapting to a new norm in education that looks different between countries and possibly even states depending on the severity of the virus. 

For many, distance learning is their reality as they go back to school online, others are nervous about returning to teach face to face while some educators have made their peace with their new school life.

It's hard to wrap your head around the enormity of what's going on and where it might end but one thing's for sure, that the way we teach and learn has changed forever! 

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If you've been following our challenge you might have noticed that the week 1 challenge was to Give a Compliment. So why are we posting another compliment challenge? Because compliments are important and kids need to practise...

Giving a compliment is a really nice way to let someone know they're important to you and receiving one always makes you feel special.

Why I love teaching kids about complimenting people is that it takes them out of their own head to shift the focus to someone else. They actually have to think about another person which means they're not thinking about themselves. This is such an important thing for kids to learn as many teenagers in particular, are often seen as living in their own world where they're full of self-importance. Getting in the habit of giving compliments helps them to expand that world to include those around them. 

This week, challenge your children to give a compliment to someone each and every day. Once they're given one to each member of their household, suggest they contact their grandparents, teacher or a friend to say something positive and make them feel good.

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