Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Making Holiday Gifts with Your Little This Season

Spending time working together on a project brings two people closer. A great opportunity for Bigs to connect with their Littles is by making a craft project together this season.

This craft can be given as a present to teachers or parents. Here are some ideas of holiday crafts Bigs and Littles can make together this season. 

Sandpaper Printed Towels

This craft is a unique way to print a drawn masterpiece by a child on flour sack towels. The trick is to use crayons to color on sandpaper and then iron on your design. This inexpensive craft will create personalized towels that are as useful as they are cool!

Felt Coffee Cup Cozies

If your Little is age 8 or older, try your hand at embroidering coffee cup cozies using felt – no expensive tools required. Stitch as much detail as desired or make it seasonal for the holidays!

Lacey Candle Holders

Together Bigs and Littles can decorate candle holders with doilies to make them into unique presents. By dying the doilies with food coloring and using craft glue to adhere them to the glass candle holder, this craft creates a cool effect when casting candle shadows across the wall.

DIY Clock

It is not as hard as you might think to make your own face clock. Customize this craft however you would like, using fabric as the background or stickers for the numbers. This idea is the perfect gift for a teacher!

A Chalkboard Tray

Chalkboard paint is all the rage right now! Make a trendy and useful gift by coating a tray in chalkboard paint. Write on a message with chalk and add a bow! This is an easy craft that the recipient is sure to love!

These fun crafts can be created together by a Big and Little team and then gifted to special role models in their lives. You will be amazed how easy it is and what fun you have working together!

Learn more about giving the best gift and becoming a Big on our website.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall for Outdoor Fun with Your Little this Season

Summer may be over, but outdoor fun with your Little doesn’t have to be! Throw on a sweater and check out these fun, low-cost activities in Central Minnesota.

1. Get Lost in a Corn Maze

St. Joseph’s A and G produce offers a 13-acre daytime corn maze sprinkled with fun trivia questions. Or visit Delano’s Apple Jack Orchards, for one of the area’s budget-friendliest mazes, at just $6. For the more thrill-seeking Littles (older ages suggested) check out the Harvest of Horror trail in St. Augusta, open every weekend in October.

2. Spend the Day in an Apple Orchard

There’s no shortage of orchards in Central Minnesota. Spend as much or as little as you want – you pay for what you pick! Fairhaven Farm in tiny South Haven (near Kimball) sits on 50 acres. In fall, the farm has a pumpkin patch and horse-drawn hay rides, as well as famously yummy apple pies. For a simpler apple orchard experience, try J.Q. Fruit Farm and Orchard in Princeton, where you can pick your own apples, try fresh cider, and tour the farm.

3. Make Some Furry Friends at a Petting Zoo

If you don’t have a hobby farm in the family, a petting zoo is the next best thing. You may know Collegeville Orchards for its apples, but the orchard also has a small petting zoo with friendly goats, sheep, alpacas, rabbits, and horses. Or pay just $8.50 per person to see an even larger variety of animals at Erickson’s Petting Zoo in Osakis.

4. Carve a Pumpkin Together.

You can pick one out at Nelson Family Farm in Litchfield, which hosts a “pumpkin festival” each weekend through Oct. 28th. For a classic pumpkin patch experience, head to Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch in St. Cloud.

5. Soak in the Fall Colors at a Local Park or Hiking Trail

Lake Wobegon Trail covers 60 miles from Osakis to St. Joseph. Or drive just 30 minutes north of St. Cloud to visit the nearest state park, Charles A. Lindbergh, along the Mississippi. Before you decide on a park, check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Color Finder for optimal colors.

Looking for more fun with your Little this fall? Check out our Top Ten One-Hour Fall Activities list from 2015.

Don’t have a Little? Why not! Fall is a great time to get involved. Visit bbbscentralmn.org for more information.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Want to Have a BIG Impact On The Life of A Child? BBBS Is Looking For Volunteers!

Are you looking for a way to volunteer? Want to give back to the community that raised you up? Hoping to make a difference in the lives of local children? Big Brothers Big Sisters is the perfect opportunity for you. Join us and be a Big in the life of a Little today!

What Is a Big?

Any teen or adult hoping to volunteer to impact the lives of children can be a Big. You are paired with a Little to form a special relationship in that child's life. You must be older than a freshman in their second semester or trimester of high school and you must provide your own transportation.

What Does a Big Do?

Bigs spend about an hour a week with their Little enjoying activities like sports, board games, helping with homework, arts and crafts, or hanging out at the school's playground. The main purpose of the Big is to be a positive influence and role model in the Little's life. As the older person in the relationship, you'll be able to provide invaluable advice and guidance to your Little.

Why Be A Big?

Being a Big to someone in Big Brothers Big Sisters will give you personal fulfillment and happiness. There is no joy quite like making a child's life better! As a Big, you will be eligible to participate in our college and career readiness activities which include: college visits, college workshops, career nights and scholarship opportunities. Service and volunteering also makes a great resume boost, college application highlight, or job interview plus. There are so many reasons to become a Big, try it out and you will see!

Big Brothers Big Sisters needs your help these children grow up to be something BIG – just like you! Please click here to sign up to volunteer.

Friday, August 18, 2017

15 Tips to Prepare for the 2017 School Year

Summer break is winding down and the new school year is almost upon us! Get your family ready with these creative tips to better prepare you for early morning bus rides, last-minute projects, and everything in between!

Practice Makes Perfect

Summer break is a time meant for staying up late, sleeping in, and tons of fun for most kids, but the school year is coming fast and that means everyone’s schedules will soon change! Help to get your child prepared with these simple changes.

  1. Implement a New Wake-up Time – Wake them up earlier each day as we get closer to classes starting.
  2. Set a Bedtime – This will allow them to wake up easier in the morning, and feel rested throughout the day.
  3. Walk Through Their Schedule – Usually during open house, you are allowed to walk through your child’s schedule and check out their locker. This can be a great way to help them feel more at ease on their first day of classes.
  4. Clean Out the Closest – The new school year is the perfect excuse to go through old clothes and clean out any that no longer fit.
  5. Ride Schedule – Discuss with your child(ren) whether they will be riding the bus, going to an after school program, or getting dropped off/picked up by a family member.

Create an Action Plan

Having an action plan can help you to be prepared ahead of time and ready to rock the school year!

  1. Calendars and Planners – Having a schedule available that the entire family can see is helpful in planning. An extra step that may be even more helpful is to discuss the upcoming week as a family.
  2. Daily Routine – Create a daily routine chart for the kiddos to follow showing the essential to-dos such as eating breakfast, doing homework, and bedtime.
  3. Manage the Menu – In order to help you stay on track throughout the week, create a weekly family dinner menu! Each family member could choose a meal for one evening each week and the rest could be filled in together.
  4. Weekly Wardrobe – At the beginning of each week, help your child(ren) pick out their outfits and hang or fold them in order so that they know what outfit is for each day.
  5. Prepare the Pantry – To make meal prepping for the school day easier, designate a pantry or cupboard space for packing lunches.
  6. Score on Storing Essentials – Store shoes, backpacks, jackets, and everything else that is essential to the school day together so that it is all in one place and easy to grab on the go. Go through everything the night before to ensure it is ready to go come morning!

Just In Case

Last-minute homework assignments and practices can come up, so check out these tips to ensure that you and your kids are ready for anything!

  1. Supply Stash – Have a stash of supplies stored away for the “just in case” moments, such as a major last-minute project, donation boxes, or simply running out of the essentials mid-year.
  2. Book Basket – Have a basket for library books that need to be returned placed near their other daily school essentials to prevent late returns or fees at the end of the school year.
  3. Mobile Caddy – To complete daily homework or major projects at home, create a mobile caddy with school supplies.
  4. Have a Back-up Plan – If you child rides the bus home and relies on a key to get into the house, make sure to have a key hidden or the garage code written somewhere that they can find it for an easy back-up plan. If they are ever to get picked up by a neighbor or family friend, have a code word that only your family knows to identify the correct person that is picking them up.

For more tips, check out Good Housekeeping’s website or Healthychildren.org.

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters and how you can get involved, check out our Facebook page and website! From all of us here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MN, we wish you an exciting and stress-free upcoming school year!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Get Ready Fore BIG Fun: The 2017 Golf Fore Kids’ Sake Tournament!

Get your clubs ready to tee off at our 11th annual Golf Fore Kids’ Sake golf tournament! Join us at the Territory Golf Course on Monday, August 21st at 11 AM for this incredible event. Proceeds go towards the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota Youth Mentorship program.

Solar Eclipse

Need even more of a reason to join the tournament? This year during the tournament, from 11:40 am – 1 pm, there will be a solar eclipse! Almost 82% of the sun will be blocked by the moon at the peak of the eclipse, so you will get to witness a natural phenomenon while making phenomenal plays on the course.

Paying Tribute

This year, we also have a special individual that we are honoring during our Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournament; Michael Moores. Michael passed away suddenly in November, and was only 49 years old. As a former BBBS Board Member and a Big Brother for 8 years, Michael Moores was an important part of BBBS.


Sign up today to join us for this fun-filled day on the course! A team of 4 costs $400, which includes meal tickets, golf carts, and 18 holes of golf for the entire team. Registration on the day of the event begins at 10 AM.

Donations and Sponsorship

We are still accepting donations and sponsorship for the event, and would love to hear from you! If you are interested in donating prizes, email Khamara at bbbs@bbbscentralmn.org, or call 320 258-4511. If you would like to become a sponsor for the Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournament, check out our sponsorship information for the various options.

Thank you for all of your donations and support to both our current and future sponsors! For more information on how you can get involved and become a Big, check out our ‘Get Involved’ page! We hope to see you on August 21st!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A BIG Thing You Didn’t Know About Being a Big!

Being a Big gives you the opportunity to impact a child’s life and to transform their tomorrow for the better. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, we are always looking for people who are hoping to positively impact both a child and their community. Families and couples are always welcome to join, so why not become a BIG deal together in a child’s life today?

Unconventional Opportunities to Make a Difference

Did you know that you can become a Big in the form of an individual, a family, or a couple? You have numerous options and opportunities to impact a child’s life where it counts and you don’t have to do it alone!

Many people think that being a Big means being an individual of the same gender as the Little that is placed with them, but that is simply not the case. As a family or a couple, you are more than welcome to become a Big and share double the love and fun with your Little!

If you are interested in more information we have two information sessions each month that are commitment-free and allow you to learn more about the enrollment process and what it means to be a Big. This month's next session will be Saturday, June 24th at 9-10:30 AM. These sessions are held at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Office at 203 Cooper Ave North in St. Cloud.

Ready to become a Big deal? Check out more information here. You can also call (320) 253-1616 or email Emily at recruiter@bbbscentralmn.org.

Go Big and make a positive impact in a Little’s life today!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bring Big Fun to Your Little This Summer

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and nature’s colors are back in full force, so why not get outside and enjoy this summer? Central Minnesota provides endless opportunities to get outdoors and have exciting activities with yourLlittle. Check out these options for a little inspiration and a lot of fun.

Make a Splash

Check out the three local splash pad locations for a fun-filled way to ward off the heat. Lake George/Eastman Park, Riverside Park, and Westwood Park are all officially open as of May 15th and will remain open for use until September 15th (weather permitting). Hours are 9 AM – 7 PM daily. To find more information visit the city of Saint Cloud website and get splashing!

Dive into Nature

If you and your Little want to be active outdoors and explore this summer, visit Saint John’s University Abbey Arboretum. With more than 15 miles of hiking trails, you and your Little will be busy all day long. For more information and a map of the trails visit their arboretum information guide. For even more to do at the arboretum, check out their website.


Catch a Home Run

Are you looking for peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and an evening full of excitement? Check out the Saint Cloud Rox baseball team, the local Northwoods League team that promises fun for all ages. Hoping to adventure out of town for a bit? Sundays are Kids Days at Twins games for kids 14 and under. This includes player autographs, half-price meals for kids, and running the bases after the game. Visit the Kids Day page for specialty days that the kids can receive gifts for being one of the first 10,000 people through the gates.


Rides, and Ring Toss, and Funnel Cake, Oh my!

Summer fairs and festivals are an exciting way to experience endless fun together! Including a petting zoo, rides, games, musical performances, and a derby, the Benton County Fair in Sauk Rapids runs from August 1st – 6th this summer. Hours vary depending on the day. Local parades and town celebrations allow you two to grab some candy and celebrate the state’s various towns, as well. Check out other county fairs and town festivals in the area.

Hoping to experience the largest fair in MN this summer? The MN State Fair, located in Saint Paul, runs from August 24th – September 4th. Hours vary depending on the days and attractions you visit.

Feel an Adrenaline Rush

Make a trip to Valleyfair this summer and enjoy rides to satisfy the gentlest rider to the most adventurous thrill seeker – not to mention the massive outdoor waterpark. Open from the end of May to the beginning of September, the park's hours vary depending on the day. Beginning in September, the amusement park turns into Valleyscare, extending the frightful fun into the fall!

Is the weather outside not ideal but you and your Little still want to enjoy a day of adrenaline-pumping fun? Head to MOA – Mall of America, located in Bloomington, for a day full of adventure! Enjoy Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life, Legoland, and more. Nickelodeon Universe is a fully indoor amusement park containing rides for all ages. Sea Life is an enclosed underwater adventure where you can view sharks and various water creatures. Legoland is a free area to walk through and play with Legos while admiring gigantic Lego structures. Check out MOA’s attractions website for more information.

For discounted ticket coupons for Valleyfair, Nickelodeon Universe, and Sea Life check your local Subway and Credit Union locations.

Central MN offers endless opportunities to get you and your Little on the move. Connect with other pairs from the Big Brothers Big Sisters network for more ideas. If you are looking for even more options to get out and explore, read our past blogs on fun activities to try with your Little, or visit community bulletin websites such as aroundthecloud.org and fun4kidsmn.com.

If you are interested in volunteering, donating, enrolling a child, or for more activity ideas check out Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MN!