Building and maintaining healthy friendships brings us happiness, teaches us different perspectives, and helps us navigate challenging life experiences. We may share a lot of similarities with our friends, like the clothes we wear, the color of our hair, and the music we listen to; we will also find that there are differences in our interests, the way we look, or our personal style. Friendships hold space for the ways we are similar and different as we learn about ourselves and deepen our appreciation of others and their lived experiences. By understanding what makes a healthy friendship, we can improve our current friendships and build powerful new connections with the people around us.
An important part of maintaining healthy friendships is understanding and responding to our emotions, and the emotions of others, in respectful ways. One way you can strengthen your ability to recognize and process emotions is by incorporating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) into your everyday routine using a Zone Check-In. By checking in with our emotions and saying “this is how I feel,” we can learn to acknowledge and respond to our emotions, and the emotions of others. Print off and hang the Zone Check-In sheet below somewhere in your home to encourage daily emotional reflection.
If you’re looking to make new friends, our inclusive programs offer ample opportunities to connect with other families in a playful setting.
- Northwest Sinfonietta’s string quartet will be joining visitors at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma on Thursday, February 9, for musical performances of classical and popular tunes, an instrument petting zoo and a Q&A. The performances will take place at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. No pre-registration is required.
- Sparks Workshops are free, monthly activity sessions led by PlayGuides at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and the Children’s Museum at JBLM. On February 4, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma will be offering button making, and on February 5, the Children’s Museum at JBLM will be offering a sculpting activity.
- The Exceptional Family Member Program Playgroup is offered to members of EFMP at Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the Children’s Museum at JBLM on Mondays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Activities, music, free play, and bubbles offer a welcoming and comfortable play environment for children with disabilities and give caregivers a chance to interact with one another.
- Wee Ones Weekly is offered to Museum members every Monday from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Program Room at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. Participants enjoy thematic and musical programming perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and their grownups during the academic year October – May.
- Play to Learn is a free program for children ages six and under and their adults to play together. Offered at eight community locations throughout Pierce County, Play to Learn invites individual play, group activities, songs, and whole group circle time for children and adults to enjoy together.
Open Ended Play
Create Thankful Cards inspired by the book Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora.
For this activity you will need:
- Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
- Construction paper
- Cards and envelopes
- Glue stick
- Black pen
- Postage stamp
- Begin by reading the book Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. You can find this title at Tacoma Public Libraries, Puyallup Public Library, and Pierce County Libraries. You can also read along with this Youtube video. In this book, Omu makes a thick, red, delicious stew for her dinner that she shares with her neighbors. At the end of the story, Omu’s neighbors bring her food and a little boy gives her a thank you card.
- Think about someone in your family, school, or neighborhood to make a Thankful Card.
- Use a white card as the base for your Thankful Card collage. Think about the person you are making the card for. Is there something you enjoy doing with them or do they have a favorite place, color or animal that might inspire the design for your card?
- Use construction paper, scissors, and glue to make your design on the front of the card. You can even use old magazine pages. Cut the paper with scissors or tear the paper with your fingers. Roll or crinkle the paper for added texture.
- Glue the pieces and make sure that the collage paper does not go off of the card so that it fits inside the envelope.
- Inside your card, write a note of thanks to the person. Think about why this person makes you thankful. Maybe they taught you how to do something new or perhaps given you a gift or yummy food. You can write your own note or use the example below.
- Dear (the person you’re writing the card to),Thank you for (the thing that you are thankful for). It made me feel (happy, excited, grateful, playful).With thanks,(your name)
- Place your card inside an envelope. If you will be mailing the card, be sure to write your name and address in the upper left-hand corner and the person’s name and address in the middle. A postage stamp will go in the upper right-hand corner. You may need to ask an adult for help with the addresses.
In The Community
February 4 celebrates the birth of the American nonprofit-charitable corporation, the United Service Organizations. What started as live shows to boost morale has evolved into a supportive system for all individuals connected to military life.
Each month USO Northwest partners with the Children’s Museum at JBLM to bring playful programming to military families. Follow the Children’s Museum at JBLM Facebook page for updates on USO events at the Museum.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
This annual observance on February 11 promotes full and equal access for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Throughout history, women have changed the world through their work in STEM, but their accomplishments have often been swept under the rug or discounted by society at large.
Take time this month to teach your children about women in STEM and engage in STEM activities to broaden their ideas about who they are and who they can become.
Family STEAM Night at Moore Library: Join Tacoma Public Library and Greentrike on Wednesday, February 22, for an early evening brimming with playful discovery and creation! 4 – 5:30 p.m. No pre-registration required.
Maker’s Studio at the Children’s Museum at JBLM: Tinker and create with recycled materials at workstations equipped with authentic tools.
Family STEAM Days at LeMay: Explore the world of automobiles and its relation to STEAM on the third Saturday of each month.
Read Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly to learn about four female African American mathematicians at NASA.
Random Acts of Kindness Week
From February 12 – 18 we are invited to center kindness. When we are kind to ourselves and one another, we are able to engage and relate more deeply. Keeping in mind that kindness is actionable, try outlining ideas together and reminding one another of your intentions throughout the week.
What is kindness? The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation defines kindness using six core concepts: Respect, Caring, Inclusiveness, Integrity, Responsibility, and Courage.
Check out their page for posters, coloring pages, and age appropriate social emotional learning curriculums.
Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week
The first week of February is dedicated to promoting literacy in children and inspiring a love of reading, writing, and art, and the first Saturday of February is Take Your Child to the Library Day!
Read one of our recommended children’s books about friendship, take your child or youth to your local library, or borrow a book from the Playful Little Library at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma to promote reading in your home this month.
Black History Month
Every February we celebrate and reflect on the achievements and history of African Americans in the United States. Black History Month is celebrated all over the country to appreciate, honor, and acknowledge the struggles, successes, and strength of the Black/African American community.
There are many ways you can engage with Black History Month individually, with your family, and within the community.
- Hear from nearly 1,000 Black Washingtonians highlighting where change is needed in civic engagement, education, economic mobility, public safety, and health with the Black Future Co-op Fund’s 2022 Black Wellbeing Report.
- Check out a book that celebrates black history or join a Black History Month Storytime with Tacoma Public Library.
- Shop the Melanated Market at the South Hill Mall in Puyallup.
- Watch Tacoma Urban League’s expert report clips on the 2022 State of Black Tacoma.
- Learn about an African American Hero with this series from National Geographic Kids.
- Tour Hilltop’s Black-owned businesses.
Looking for more ways to celebrate this month? Try incorporating one of these lighthearted observances into your family routine.
- Visit the Children’s Museum of Tacoma February 9 – 13 to create collaged cards for Make A Friend Day.
- Celebrate Take Your Child to the Library Day with a Storytime at Tacoma Public Library.
- Grab a kite and head to Chambers Creek Regional Park on the 8 to fly high on National Kite Flying Day.
Building friendships knows no age limit! Whether you’re looking to connect with nursing BIPOC mothers, Pierce County families with new babies, new fathers, or military families with a child on the autism spectrum, there are ample opportunities to connect.