10 Ways Your Kids Can Make Someone Smile This Summer

We're all looking for ways to keep our kids busy during the summer months. It's all the better when they can do things that inspire love and kindness at the same time.

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Take the 30-Day Kindness Challenge

There's no better way to bring a smile to someone else's face than by spreading kindness. As a family, consider taking the #30Days of Kindness Challenge. Print out the list of challenges, like writing a thank you note for the mail carrier and spending quality time with your pet, and post it on your refrigerator so you and the kids see it every day. Tackle one challenge every day or spread it out over the summer.

Fill Your Neighborhood With Cheery Chalk Drawings

Kids love to create colorful chalk drawings on their driveways or the sidewalks in front of their homes. It's also an inexpensive way to keep kids busy, but there's no need to limit the artwork or the fun. Take your budding artists on the road, even just a few blocks away. Let them draw pastel flowers, hearts and rainbows, but also write positive messages that can encourage and inspire, like "You are my sunshine" and "You make a difference every day."

Pick Flowers

Flowers make people happy and science has even found that flowers can improve emotional health and make people feel happier for a longer period of time. So let your kids pick flowers — maybe not out of your neighbor's yard — and give a bouquet to a loved one. Look for a farm near you, like Burnside Farms in Haymarket, Va., that grows beautiful flowers, like tulips and sunflowers, that can be picked and shared to bring a smile.

Donate Books to a Little Free Library

Summer is a great time to collect and purge the books your kids have outgrown. If you have a Little Free Library near your home, stock it up with the colorful books your kids have already read. If your neighborhood allows, consider building a Little Free Library to put in front of your own home to encourage friends and neighbors to take a book and add a book.

Write + Leave Happy Notes Anonymously

Spend the morning with your kids drawing colorful pictures and writing short notes of kindness to leave anonymously throughout the summer on grocery carts, under car windshield wipers and on bike handlebars. Check out Color Happy for a small collection of printable kindness cards that your kids can color and share.

Create a Care Package for a Soldier

Soldiers can spend weeks, even months, away from their families. One fun way to thank them for their efforts is by creating care packages filled with treats, like gum and candy, even Girl Scout cookies, as well as playing cards, travel-size games and Sodoku books to help them pass the time. Organizations like Operation Shoebox and Operation Gratitude post lists of what soldiers most want and can help you get started.

Bake + Share Dog Treats

Many people believe that dogs can actually smile and some experts believe that dogs learned to smile because they've seen humans do the same. So, why not bake a batch of Peanut Butter Dog Bone Treats or Sweet Potato Dog Treats and drop them off at your local animal shelter? Those pups could use a smile as they're waiting patiently for their forever family to find them.

Write + Mail a Handwritten Postcard

Text messages are the communications vehicle of choice for today's kids. No handwritten letters, certainly not ones that are placed in a mailbox with a postage stamp. However, there's something truly special about receiving a scenic postcard or a note on colorful stationery that can bring a smile to the face of a friend or relative. It's also a great way for kids to brush up on their writing skills and penmanship over the summer.

Set Up a Charity Lemonade Stand

Encourage your kids to choose a cause and set up a stand for an afternoon to see how much money they can raise. The Lemonade Stand Cookbook has a lot of great ideas to help your kids get started, including encouraging stories from other children who've set up stands in their own neighborhoods.

Paint Kindness Rocks

Gather up some smooth rocks from the backyard and set up the paints on the kitchen table. Let your kids paint colorful designs and messages of hope and inspiration on the rocks, like "Be Brave" and "Love Each Other." Then visit your local park or playground to leave them for others to find and feel encouragement. One school teacher in Oklahoma recently started the Kindness Rocks Project and created a rock garden at her school filled with colorful rocks and kind messages created by the students.

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