family sitting at a table taking a selfie

Winter can be tough. It’s hard to get motivated to go out and do things when the sky is gloomy and the cold seems to make everything harder. But fear not! There are tons of fun, family 4-H activities that you can do from home to help get you through the grey months.

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Happy New Year! After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I sometimes feel like January allows us to hit the refresh button on our lives. It’s a great time to start new routines or build habits that can make you and your family healthier and happier. And here at University of Illinois Extension, we always hope to provide you with the tools and information to help you live healthier, happier lives. So I’ve compiled just a few resources from my Illinois Extension colleagues that will help you and your family build habits towards some of the most common New Year goals. 

girl looking stressed holding wrapped gifts

Holidays can bring forth so many emotions and whether those emotions are happy, stressful, or sad, they often seem magnified during the holidays. Several of our Extension colleagues from across the country have shared tips on reducing stress this holiday season. Here are three of my favorite ones, along with some links to additional resources:

hands painting something gold

The old saying it is better to give than to receive is something that has always resonated with me. I love to give gifts and I especially love giving an item that I have created by hand. Making gifts can be time consuming, and with the holidays are upon us, time is running short to create any handmade items this season. To help, we have compiled some simple, quick ideas of gifts you can make for family and friends that don’t take much time at all to create.

practicing gratitude on Thanksgiving info graphic

What’s your favorite holiday? Mine is Thanksgiving…hands down. I mean, how could it not be? It’s a simple celebration focused on good food, time with family, and the harvest. And if that wasn’t enough, it celebrates a powerful way to encourage good mental and physical health: Gratitude.

man, child, and woman sitting on couch holding head in their hands looking stressed

I know as I enjoy the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground, I am also reminded of the busyness of this time of year. As with any busy time, it is common for people of all ages to experience stress. With all the factors that can lead to stress, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the stressor in our life or the lives of our family members. However, one thing is clear, it is important for all family members to have strategies to help cope with these stressors. Fortunately, a lot has been researched and written about positive ways to deal with stress.

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October 18-22 is Digital Citizenship Week! And if you’re anything like me, you might be wondering…

umm…so what?

adult woman playing with candy and a little girl

Each year, 4-H members across the nation celebrate National 4-H Week, joining 6 million other 4-H members of the country’s premiere youth development program. This year, the celebration runs Oct. 3 to 9.

University of Illinois Extension 4-H wants to use the celebration to connect with former members. Nationally, there are 25 million Americans who share this unique alumni bond.

It's Fall Y'all! info graphic

I don’t know about things in your neck of the woods, but here in Central Illinois, the indications of autumn are everywhere! The shorter days are marked with bright blue skies and a crisp breeze, mums adorn doorsteps, and there’s pumpkin spice everything! In case these tell-tale signs don’t ring true for you, last week also marked the Autumnal Equinox, a date when the day and night have equal timeshare and meteorologists make it official. It’s fall!

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The school year is here once again!  It can feel overwhelming to get all the school supplies ready and schedules organized, let alone take first day of school pictures, or any of the many traditions people have for going back to school!  However, it is important to take a moment and celebrate the little things – that your child is a year older and is changing and growing every day. One great way to celebrate the start of the school year and document how much they are changing is a “First Day of School Interview”.  Take a few moments to ask your children a few or all of these questions:

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This week, the back-to-school shelves in every store I‘ve gone to look as though they’ve been ravaged. I’m struggling to keep up with my backyard garden harvests, and I just got notification that my favorite apple orchard will be opening for the season. And the children are “going to die of boredom!” The end of summer is upon us.

young man and old man with arms across shoulders

Father’s Day in the United State is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. This year it will fall on June 20, 2021. It is a time to celebrate the fathers or father figures in your life, which could include dads, step-fathers, grandpas, uncles, brothers, and other role models.

Taking time out to honor the father figures in your life can really mean a lot to them, so get started now thinking of ways you can celebrate together. Here are just a few ideas of ways you could celebrate this Father’s Day:

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Memorial Day weekend is often seen as a time to get together with family and as the unofficial start to summer. However, there is much more to the history of Memorial Day than picnics, barbecues, and family gatherings.  Our colleagues at Michigan State University wrote a great article about the history of Memorial Day and how to teach your children about it. Their Early Childhood Development team shared some great suggestions of ways to celebrate Memorial Day with your children. These are a great combination of virtual and in-person types of activities.

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The school year is coming to a close. And what a year it has been! We’ve all faced periods of isolation, bouts of anxiety, and tons of screen time – even (or especially) our kids. As things slowly return to normal, we have the opportunity to use summer break as a time for healing and re-connection.

infographic with graduation cap and stack of books

Those of you graduating in 2021 have achieved so much! You have learned to adjust your way of learning during a pandemic, found creative solutions to obstacles and challenges, and developed innovative ways to support and encourage each other. That’s a lot! 

In 4-H, we often talk about the three experiential learning steps: do, reflect, apply. These steps also apply to graduates who are finishing up one stage of their learning.  So, as you graduate, it is important to take time to do three important things:

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We’ve all been there. The family comes together at the end of a long day at school or work and you’re looking forward to connecting with the people you love most. You ask about their days, eager to hear details about the part of their lives you don’t get to see. Instead, you are met with the frustratingly ever-present response: FINE.

Celebreat Women's History Month

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions of women throughout history. It began as National Women’s History Week and was set in March to correspond with International Women’s Day on March 8. President Carter first declared March 2-8 as Women’s History Week in 1980.

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Is February making you feel gloomy or cooped-up? Take a snow day! You don’t have to have the day off work or school to have some wintery fun. Here are a few ideas to lift your spirits!

quote by Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

The civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great because everyone can serve.” 

Many families and organizations come together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day) to practice service to others. Although there might not be as many community-wide activities available to gather together and serve this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to lend a helping hand to others! AmeriCorps has some great service ideas that children and families can do together, including:

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Things may look different this year and traditional holiday activities you normally do may not be happening in the same way. That doesn’t mean you can’t make your own holiday memories at home.