Here's a little idea that's been sitting in my drafts folder for... well, about a year now. Maybe longer. It's simple and sweet and oh, so easy. The kids loved it, but don't discount it if you're a little removed from kid-aged - it's a good way to spread cheer, and can't we all use more ideas like that? Plus it costs exactly ZERO dollars. ZERO. (Except gas money, I guess...)
I first got this idea from Color Me Katie. You can see her lovely version here. I love that blog, I gotta say. She's me at a younger, more carefree, childless stage of life, I swear. If I take more of her ideas, maybe I'll get some of that feeling back...
Here's a completely obvious and not needed tutorial.
First, have your kids gather rocks. This is, apparently SUPER fun. I had no idea, but trust me, they'll love it. Try to find rocks that are smoothish and flat on one side at least. Once you've got enough rocks to build a fortress, you'll want to clean them off. We gave our rocks a bath in the tub. No, I'm not kidding. The kids loved this part too. Weird. Who knew rocks were so very cool.
Once they're dry, you can paint them. Now, if you want to be super quick, you can use spray paint. Two coats, then turn them over and do two more. Bam. But I didn't want my kids using spray paint. So we just used regular old acrylic craft paint. We painted the rocks an array of bright, fun colors. We had to wait until they dried to flip them over and do the other side, but it only takes about 10-15 minutes for it to dry all the way.
When they are all painted, we took some sharpies and drew hearts on some, wrote "love" on some and wrote "rocks!" on others.
I did let the kids decorate their own with the markers. bug got pretty good at hearts.
Then the rocks, kids and I took a ride all over town.
We visited our most frequented gas station (though truth be told, I had to go there anyway...)
the Dr.'s office/hospital (because we decided who needs more cheering up than those going to the hospital?!?)
and to a few homes of people we know and love.
We "hid" the rocks, but I had to keep explaining to the kids that they didn't want to hide them too well, because the point is that people would see them and smile. Maybe take them and move them to a different spot to cheer someone else up.
We did it anonymously, and though it wasn't really an act of service by any stretch of the imagination, it was fun and gave me the opportunity to talk to the kids about doing nice things for others without being asked - just because we want to be nice.
We made so many love rocks that there is still a basket in my car under my seat. When we run errands, the kids often ask me if they can hide a rock or two on our way into the store/bank/restaurant/etc. I imagine they won't be happy when we run out.