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I just finished a webinar I offered for moms to support them during our stay-at-home order. In the audience, we had a mom who was seven-months pregnant with a three-year-old as well as moms with school-age kids and teens. During these challenging times, all have unique situations. Some of us are working full-time and struggling to find a free moment, while others are bored and working to find fun and purpose. Some of our kids are best friends, while others can’t seem to get along ever. Some kids are jetting through easy schoolwork while others can’t seem to get anything done. How are you doing? Are you making amazing memories with your time together or struggling to make things happen? Today’s article is about recognizing that the love is in the daily details, but it may take some special effort to notice.

“Seeing” by Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perennial 1974)

When I was six or seven years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of my own and hide it for someone else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I’ve never been seized by it since. For some reason, I always “hid” the penny along the same stretch of sidewalk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of sidewalk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY. I was greatly excited, during all this arrow-drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way, regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight home and not give the matter another thought, until, some months later, I would be gripped again by the impulse to hide another penny.

It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But—and this is the point—who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kid paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

I love this passage because it captures so much about childhood joy. Like the puppy-dog-tails and sugar-and-spice nursery rhyme, childhood joy is a magic blending of anticipation, preparation, and imagination. Children build their magic worlds by keeping their eyes open for real-world discovery. And when they find something new and delightful, they turn to those around them to share in their excitement. For young children, this is a ladybug on a blade of grass; and for older kids, this is a giggling walk with friends to get ice cream. Parents can be a part of this magical discovery, or they can be washing dishes. It’s really up to us to be present.

But here’s the thing, we don’t have to entertain our kids 24/7. Contrary to popular parenting lore, our job is not to make our prodigy happy all of the time. Our job is to offer a safe and enriching place in love and guidance, helping them build resiliency skills so they can feel their worth and practice their capabilities. Sometimes that means we are by their sides, and sometimes that means we offer a crafted setting of endless possibilities.

To teach them how to recognize those endless possibilities, we first have to create the framework for meaningful magic and create the lens for them to see through. And I’m telling you now, memory-making family events don’t have to take place in a faraway destination or during a $5000 planned vacation. Magical, meaningful moments worthy of memories don’t cost dollars….they cost pennies. They’re like shiny pennies cradled in the roots of a Sycamore or left by a chipped-off piece of sidewalk. They are gathered in tiny moments of discovery and shared joy. To find them, we just have to have our eyes, and our hearts, open.


Take a virtual travel vacation.

  • Create a passport for the virtual trips you will take.
  • Research the things to do once you get there.
  • Visit those places on Google Earth.
  • After the trip your child can draw a picture of something from the trip as a passport stamp.
  • Create a collage of the virtual places you visit.

Create family businesses and then end with a trade show.

  • Decide on your idea and write a mission statement.
  • Design your logo (fun ideas are to look on https://www.fiverr.com/ or https://99designs.com where people hire logo designers online). Pick your brand colors (https://coolors.co is a fun site for that)
  • Design a website (you can design for free for a limited time on https://www.squarespace.com)
  • Pick free stock images for your site or take them on your own (we love https://unsplash.com)
  • Create a budget
  • Source and buy materials for your product
  • Manufacture your product
  • Create flyers and business cards
  • Design and film a TV commercial (don’t forget to hire your celebrities and learn your marketing)
  • Create a sales convention where you each have a sales table where you hawk your wares (you can take turns as founders and customers or recruit family members and friends as customers)
  • Find brand partners
  • Create your store
  • Have a trade show where you buy each other’s wares and services with a budget and fake money you set up ahead of time.

Set up a restaurant in your home.

  • Plan the menu
  • Prepare the food
  • Dress up like chefs and waiters
  • Serve your family guests just as they’d be served in a restaurant (menu, orders, bill payment).

For more ideas to create fun family fun, follow our daily #TogetherAtHome idea posts on the GetKidsIternetSafe Instagram page! To help you out during challenging times, here is a list of linked resources to help you make magic family memory moments while you’re #TogetherAtHome.


Easy Peasy and Fun

From their website: “Ready for a fantastic crafting session with your kids or students? We have a ton of engaging art and craft for kids to make and you’ll find ideas for all ages and for all occasions.”



The Best Idea for Kids

From their website: “If you’re looking for easy and fun craft ideas for kids – you’ve definitely come to the right place! We’ve included our best and most popular crafts for kids on this page for you. Kids will love making these simple crafts – and the best part is the preparation for you will always be easy too!”




California Science Center

Stuck at home science



Kidspace At Home: Virtual learning and play 

From their website: “Kidspace may be temporarily closed, but curiosity never ceases. Keep the learning going at home with Kidspace curated programming and resources developed to spark connection, creativity, laughter, and inspiration. Join the Kidspace-At-Home journey bringing hands-on joyful learning experiences to families every day. Scroll to the bottom to learn how you can help support our efforts and keep Kidspace strong!”



Lakeshore Learning

From their website: “More than 1,000 Free Resources – Bring learning home with printable worksheets, writing prompts, and more.”

The link includes learning at home YouTube video channel for Preschool–Gr. 5.




An article reviewing podcasts for children

Since every parent is now a teacher, here is an article that identifies 26 podcasts for children in elementary, middle and high school



Brains On! 

From their website: “An award-winning audio show for kids and families. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world. Our mission is to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history…but there’s no age limit on curiosity, and episodes of Brains On can be enjoyed by anyone.”



But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

From their website: “But Why is a show led by you, kids! You ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. Have a question? Send it to us!”



More Podcast identified by iheart.com for kids and families



Ted Talks for Kids

Fun, informative and captivating talks to inspire young minds.




Animated books 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar



and Good Night Moon



Good Night with Dolly 

From their website: “Goodnight With Dolly” will feature Dolly Parton reading a series of Imagination Library books all carefully chosen for their appropriate content at this moment in time.”




From their website: “Looking eBooks for your kids? We have the best collection of free animated eBooks will undoubtedly stimulate your child’s mind, studies and learning pattern. Find these very interesting carefully made free eBooks for kids. These online eBooks touch various subjects and promise to make your child’s learning experience richer. Read and download your favorite eBooks for free.”





From their website: “Full online curriculum ages 2-8. 10 levels. More than 850 Lessons Across 10 Levels. The Step-by-Step Learning Path presents the full ABCmouse.com curriculum in a carefully designed program of more than 850 lessons in ten levels. As your child completes each lesson, he or she is guided to the next one and is motivated to continue learning by ABCmouse.com‘s Tickets and Rewards System.”

30 days free trial






Adventure Academy 

First 30 days free




Educational Online games and resources




Allrecipes for Kids

Lots of kid’s recipes including a recipe for a Mac & Cheese in a Cheese Waffle Cone on this site



Food Network 

Recipes for kids




From their website: “Nurturing kids’ confidence in the kitchen and beyond. Browse our free delicious activities.”




Aquarium of the Pacific

From their web site: “The Aquarium of the Pacific is currently closed. During this time, we will be offering a variety of live and on-demand programming for our community..”



Bronx Zoo

Virtual Classroom, Videos and web cams of various animals




From their website: “The Exploratorium isn’t just a museum; it’s an ongoing exploration of science, art, and human perception. Explore our vast collection of online experiences to feed your curiosity and education resources supporting online teaching and learning.”



La Brea Tar Pits and Museum 

The tar pits and educational resources



Los Angeles County Museum of Art

From their web site: “Free enriching and inspiring content for you to Watch, Listen, Learn, Read, and Browse at home.”



LA Philharmonic 

Musicians, concerts, videos by LA Phil members



Los Angeles Zoo

From their website: “Bring the Zoo to You. During our closure, we’ll continue to share cool views of the Zoo, our animal residents, and our dedicated keepers to keep you informed, engaged, and connected while social distancing.”



Monterey Bay Aquarium

Webcams, activities, videos



Museum of Contemporary Art

From their website: “MOCA Education makes education more collaborative, inclusive, and learner-centered, and nurtures intellectual growth through transformative experiences with contemporary art. Join our team of MOCA educators as they lead different family-friendly activities through interactive workshops, virtual Talking Tours, and classroom curriculum discussions. It is fun for all and particularly helpful for homeschooling!”



San Diego Zoo 

Videos and web cams of various animals




Fun and Free educational websites for kids’ article with links



Game night apps and online games 

Technological ideas for all ages



LA Parent magazine

Virtual events, recipes, parenting suggestions, health and wellness, etc.



Parents magazine

Parent resource with online articles



Magazine Subscriptions for Children (not free)

Award-winning, children’s magazine titles. No coupon or promo codes are needed to receive 50% discounts (see link below)

BabyBug Magazine Ages 6 months – 3

Ladybug Magazine Ages 3-6

Ask Magazine: Ages 6-9

Cricket Magazine Ages 9-14

Muse Magazine Ages 9-14




Other Magazine Titles for Children (just to name a few and not free)

Boys Life



Humpty Dumpty

Ranger Rick

National Geographic Kids



Join each Tuesday and Thursday, beginning April 9, at 3pm ET for Magination Press Story Time, https://www.facebook.com/MaginationPressAPA/?fref=mentions&__tn__=KH-R

Live storytime events aimed at providing children with emotional support tools to help them cope with anxiety and stress in an entertaining, engaging way. In the first installment, Leah Bowen reads A Feel Better Book for Little Worriers, co-authored with Holly Brochmann, to help children identify a worry and where it might come from, as well as provide them with helpful tools to reduce and cope with worries.


10 Free Learning Websites for Kids




Thanks for being amazing. Stay safe and keep collecting those shiny penny moments!

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty


Photo Credits

Photo by James Besser on Unsplash

Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash

Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash