August 5th is Friendship Day. A holiday started in 1919 by the founder of Hallmark and proclaimed a national holiday by Congress in 1935, this is a day for people to recognize the friends that are important to them and commemorate those friendships. Since it’s so important to teach our kids to build strong friendships and be good friends themselves, August 5th is a great day to do some activities with them to encourage their friendships along. Start by inviting some of your child’s friends over for the day, and plan a fun day of friendship-related activities.
- Read books about friendship. There are many books available for children about being a friend. Pick some out and read together, then talk about how the characters acted like good friends, or how they could be better friends. Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship in 1998, so books about Winnie the Pooh and his friends might be an appropriate choice.
- Make friendship bracelets. These are always popular with kids, and all you need is beads, string (embroidery floss is a good choice) and scissors. Tie a knot at one end, and then string the beads, leaving room for a knot at the other end. Kids can make colorful patterns, or you can get alphabet beads and let them spell out their names or phrases like “Friends forever”. When beading is complete, tie a knot. If you want, you can buy clasps at a craft store to make the bracelets easier to put on and take off. You can also watch a tutorial on how to create more intricate designs by tying knots, though this will likely frustrate children under the age of seven or eight.
- Make friendship cards. Since friendship day was, after all, originally a Hallmark holiday, this is a perfect time to make greeting cards. Get out the construction paper, crayons, glitter and glue so the kids can decorate their cards. On the front of the card, help them write something like “you are my friend because” and on the inside, help them list the reasons that the intended recipient is a good friend.
- Encourage making new friends. Friendship Day shouldn’t just be about the friends we already have; it should also be about making new friends. You can help your kids to make new friends by taking them to the beach or park, and encouraging them to talk to somebody new. For a more global friendship experience, you can visit one of the free pen pal sites for kids on the web. Help your kids choose a pen pal from a different state or even a different country. Not only will they make new friends, they’ll get to polish their letter-writing skills as well.
Friendships are very important in all of our lives, and it’s up to us as parents to teach our kids how to make and maintain their own friendships. So make sure you take some time on August 5th to celebrate Friendship Day with your kids, and set a good example by calling or writing to a friend of your own!