Week Three: Family Connections Toolkit

Nurturing resilience in
body, heart, mind, and soul

Scripture:

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (CEV)

We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.

Ask these questions:

  • I wonder what it feels like to be “knocked down” or confused about what to do?
  • I wonder when you have felt this way?
  • I wonder where God is during these times?
  • I wonder what helps you feel better or find your way?

Practice: Family Mindfulness

Make Time for Mindful Breathing: 5 min/day

Pause to See Clearly. Parents often run on automatic. Taking a moment to pause can bring clarity, purpose, and connection to your day: 1 min/day

Practice Gratitude During Difficult Times. This activity can help us rewire our brains to focus on the positive instead of the negative: 3-5 min/day

No-Look Portraits

playful, tactile, 2+

Celebrate the art of making mistakes! This is a very simple game: all you’ll need is a pen, paper and a friend. Glue your eyes on your friend’s face and start to draw their face and head. The catch is that you CAN’T LOOK AT THE PAPER WHILE DRAWING! The drawings will look funny!

Variations:

  • Try keeping your pen touching the paper the entire time you’re drawing
  • Go really slowly: get a little lost in the wrinkles and shapes you see
  • Try this no-look approach with other subject matter: your sneakers, your breakfast plate, a car…

Brave Drawings

active, all ages

Take a cue from French artist Henri Matisse (pictured here): attach a pencil or paintbrush to the end of a stick, tape your paper down and try drawing!

You can even take it a step further and draw from bed, attach your paper to the ceiling, or simply draw using a brush with water on the pavement on a sunny day.

However you do it, whatever you draw, give yourself permission to be surprised and enjoy    whatever comes from the exploration.

Photo by Walter Carone

Make-Your-Own Resilient Dough

tactile, sensory, messy, creative, ages 2+

Resiliency isn’t only about strength, it’s also about flexibility and being able to adapt to what is going on around you. Enjoy the textures of resiliency as you play with homemade doughs!

Do What You Fear, Watch It Disappear!

active, all ages

Have each family member name some things they would like to try but are afraid to. Make a pledge to do one thing that’s out of their comfort zone: call a lonely relative, say hello to a stranger, attempt a cartwheel, try a new food, touch a bug, walk over a tall bridge. After a week, report back about how it felt to face up to these fears.

Cartwheels at sunset by Colin Mayer

Celebrate Your Resilient Plant Community

creative, quiet writing, ages 5+

Post a Thank You sign for a plant animal or object in your neighborhood that you think acts with resilience.

Complete a Mad Lib story about your favorite local plant. Then write your own Mad Lib to complete with family and friends!

Create Fidgets

tactile, ages 4+

Materials needed:

  • Balloons (2 per fidget)
  • Scissors
  • Spoon
  • Dried beans
  • Small Funnel that fits your beans (sports water bottle tops work well)

These therapeutic stress balls are fun to assemble and satisfying to manipulate. Make as many as you’d like for your family — and to share with others to help them calm their anxieties during this challenging time. Talk together while you’re creating the fidgets: How can we use a fidget to help us find our inner peace? How can talking about our own feelings help us be more understanding of others?

Reach Out to Seniors with Letters of Love

quiet, writing/drawing, ages 2+

You can lift the spirits — and build the resilience — of older adults struggling with isolation and loneliness simply by connecting through the mail. The mission of Letters of Love is to bring the joy of thoughtful letters and cards into the lives of the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, and senior centers around the world

At the Dinner Table

reflective, engaged, all ages

Hearing family stories of struggles can help build resilience in all of us. Tell stories about ancestors who have lived through major hardships, like World Wars and the Great Depression. What can we learn from their lives? What are some of the challenges our family has overcome?

  • What does it mean to be a “good ancestor”? What might we do now to be good ancestors?
  • The French activist Simone Weil once said, “To be a hero or a heroine, one must give an order to oneself.” What do you think she meant? What order would you give yourself?
  • What does it mean to have courage? Have you ever had to be brave?
  • If you could change one thing in the world, what would you change?

Journal & Drawing Prompts

elementary +

For each prompt give yourself at least 1-2 minutes to write or draw in response to these prompts.

Tips: ✐ When you get stuck, keep coming back to the prompt and re-write it to start your next sentence or drawing. ✐  Try to keep your pen moving and don’t overthink your words! ✐ Feel free to speak your truth or write your fictions. 

  • What makes you feel hopeful and optimistic? Draw a picture and describe in detail your hopeful things.
  • What makes you feel peaceful? If you had a peaceful pet, what would it look like? What would you name it?
  • What is worrying you right now? If you were to draw your worries, what might they look like (describe or draw)?

Books for Kids

Encourage your child to participate in the stories you read together. Ask “What if…” (What if the girl hadn’t come to the rescue? What if the dog hadn’t run away?). Ask other questions that spark imagination, empathy, and creative problem solving (What else might that character have done? What would you have done in that situation? How would you have ended the story?)

  • Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival (Ages 3-6)
  • The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (Ages 4-8)
  • After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat (Ages 4-8)
  • The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Ages 4-8)
  • The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires (Ages 4-8)
  • Not Forever But For Now: A story for children about feelings during the pandemic by Heather Malley (Ages 4-8)
  • Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard (ages 6-10 years)
  • Wish by Barbara O’Connor (Ages 9-12)
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz (Ages 9-12)
  • Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Ages 10-14)
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (Ages 10 and up)
  • Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López

Buy these titles online at a local bookstore! Some we recommend in the Twin Cities: Red Balloon, Mager’s and Quinn & Moon Palace Book.

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2021