05/03/2011 03:08 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Bonding with Kids on Mother's Day

May has just begun, and Mother's Day is already next weekend! What a great opportunity to "check in" with the kids in your life -- whether you work with them or have them -- and enjoy some creative play together.

According to various studies, mothers' time spent with children benefits youngsters in numerous ways -- from producing lower rates of obesity to higher scores on verbal tests.

But there's a more immediate advantage to spending quality time with your child. It helps you understand "where he or she is at" and gives you a chance to have fun together -- a very important aspect of child development.

Here are four creative activities to do with kids this Mother's Day.

  1. Make "me" portraits. With a marker, trace the outline of your bodies on an old sheet. Decorate your self-portraits with symbols, colors, words and pictures. Use markers, crayons, paints, glue, sparkles and cut-up magazines.
  2. Make a mini-movie. Using a smart phone, flip cam or video camera, write, star in and produce your own movie. Ideas: mom and kid talent show; commercial for your favorite thing; stupid human or pet tricks with commentary; fashion show. Post it on YouTube for friends and family.
  3. Make a card together. Pick someone you both want to write to -- the President, Grandpa, your child's brother in Afghanistan, etc. Decorate a piece of printer paper folded in half, write a message and even print a picture of yourselves and glue it on. Mail it together.
  4. Make music together. Find objects that make music. Ideas: glasses filled with water along with a spoon to "ring" them; pot and wooden spoon; rubber bands to twang; giant salt-shaker. Now come up with a rhythm and a tune. Record it on your message machine or smart phone.

Enjoy these precious moments -- they seem to pass too quickly. Perhaps you can add your own ideas; I'd love you to share them and I'll pass them on.