When we discover new ideas and learn about the world around us, we come to understand ourselves more deeply. We may try to figure out where we “fit in”and build connections with people we feel similar to. As we grow and engage with different perspectives, our idea of where we fit in may expand or contract depending on our backgrounds and lived experiences.
For all the similarities we share with our friends, there are also differences that shape how we interact with each other and in society. Self reflection, intentional learning about other perspectives, and empathy can help us build bridges with people who are different from us and foster a richer sense of how we are all connected. We encourage conversations around identity and perspective and can help you get started here.
You can also check out one of our picks for children’s books about friendship to engage your child in thoughtful learning around what it means to be a friend.
Open Ended Play
For our open ended play this month, let’s create welcome signs!
Begin by reading Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev to read about a boy and his tiny elephant who are turned away from the Pet Club and decide to start their own club where everyone is welcome.
Then, ask questions about the story, inclusion, and friendship. What do you notice about yourself that’s different from your friends? How do you think the character feels whenever his elephant isn’t welcomed? What can we do to make people feel welcomed?
Finally, craft your own welcoming sign using paper, markers, paint, and whatever other fun art supplies you have around the house!
In The Community
Month of the Military Child
The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to pay tribute to the resilience of military children and recognize the sacrifices and contributions military families make every day. Things like the deployment cycle, the loss of a parent or caregiver, and moving all put military-connected children and youth at higher risk for social, emotional, and behavioral health concerns.
You can show your support and gratitude for military children this month by wearing purple! Purple is the combination of the colors for each branch of the military and promotes solidarity in our efforts to support military-connected children and youth.
Families on-base at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are invited to join JBLM MWR on Saturday, April 29, from noon to 4:30 p.m. for Kids’ Fest! The event will feature activities, exhibits, inflatables, games, rock wall climbing, and entertainment.
At the Children’s Museum at JBLM, our goal is to ensure that all military children and families have a space to escape the stressors of military life, connect with loved ones and other families in the community, learn about resources, and build confidence through play. We offer: Pay as You Will admission during public hours, Low Sensory Hours, an Exceptional Family Member Program Playgroup, free Play to Learn classes, and military discounts on facility rentals and annual memberships.
National Volunteer Month
Each year April is dedicated to the millions of individuals who volunteer their time and energy. Whether you volunteer to mow your neighbor’s lawn or raise thousands of dollars for a nonprofit organization you love, volunteerism is an expression of love that makes a difference for countless people, communities, organizations, and movements across our country and around the world.
Volunteering as a family is a great way to uncover shared passions, encourage empathy in your children, and build community with like minded individuals! Here are a few family volunteer opportunities happening around Pierce County this month.
Spruce up your local park on Park Appreciation Day with Metro Parks Tacoma or City of DuPont Parks & Recreation
At Greentrike, our volunteers assemble Greentrike Cares Kits for children at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, assist at community events, work in the Children’s Museums of Tacoma and at JBLM, and so much more. If you’d like to volunteer with us, you can learn more about current opportunities and fill out the application form here.
World Autism Awareness Day
On April 2 we are invited to increase awareness and acceptance of autism to help improve the quality of life of those with autism.
What is autism? Autism is a neurological condition that can affect social and communication skills, behaviors, and emotions. People with autism may have sensory sensitivities and learn in different ways. Autism is a spectrum, and it manifests in different ways for each person.
Autism is not a taboo topic, and can be introduced to children through books and other resources. Here are a few children’s books that center characters with autism.
At the Children’s Museums of Tacoma and at JBLM, we offer Low Sensory Hours each week for families with sensory sensitivities, including children with autism and sensory processing disorder. During this time ambient noise and light are turned down and weighted vests and noise canceling headphones are available upon request to provide an even more inviting place to explore, play, and learn.
National Library Day
Libraries provide free access to educational resources and create spaces for people to connect, and on April 6, we are invited to celebrate the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in strengthening our communities!
There are several library systems and dozens of libraries in Pierce County that provide a range of services, from free story times to book clubs for youth. Major libraries include Pierce County Library, Tacoma Public Library, Puyallup Public Library and Joint Base Lewis-McChord Library. Check out a new library this month, and be sure to thank your librarian for their stewardship of this important public resource!
Here are 3 special events happening at libraries in Pierce County this month.
On April 22 we are called to celebrate our planet and raise awareness around the need to protect Earth’s natural resources for future generations. Check out one of these events and activities to celebrate Earth Day in Pierce County with your family this April!
Resources for families with children experiencing special needs
There are several organizations in Pierce County dedicated to supporting children and youth with autism and special needs. Check out one of these resources if you have questions around your child’s development or wellbeing.