Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday. For starters, I love to eat. The thought of an entire holiday devoted to eating as much turkey and mashed potatoes you can, is amazing. But of course thats not all it’s about. When I think back on all of most memorable Thanksgivings, I don’t remember all the food. I know I ate it obviously, but it’s not what I remember. I remember being surrounded by my family. I remember laughing at the kids table with my cousins. I remember listening to Grandma and Dad playing the piano. And now that my lifestyle keeps me from being able to go home for Thanksgiving, I truly understand how thankful I am for those memories. I wish I completely grasped that when I was growing up, but I never thought those times would end. As a kid, it isn’t always as easy to see.
So this year, I decided to do an activity with the children I watch. The idea of this activity is to get the kids to think about what they are thankful for each day in November.
We started by making a Thanksgiving Box.
To make your own Thanksgiving Box you will need:
- A Small Card Board Box
- Card Stock or Construction Paper
- Letter Stickers (optional)
Start by covering the outside of your box with card stock or construction paper. I let Anna Kate pick out the paper (color or pattern) and I cut it to size and glued it to the box. Next, she took markers and colored in all the placed we couldn’t glue paper. Then we put together a little turkey. She helped draw the eyes and picked out the “perfect feathers” for our little thanksgiving friend. Once that was all secure, we used foam-letter stickers and spelled out “I Am Thankful For…” It was a great chance for her to practice her letter recognition and spelling. Once the outside was finished, she set out to decorate the inside. She spelled out “Happy Thanksgiving” with more stickers and drew things that reminded her of Thanksgiving. For her, that was a cooked turkey, a bowl of peas, a scarecrow, a pumpkins, and a batch of straw.
Next we started on what would go inside the box. We have been calling them the “Thankful Turkeys”.
To make these “Thankful Turkeys” you will need:
- A Variety of Card Stock or Construction Paper
As you can see, you don’t need much because you will be making these everyday. The actual turkeys are not what makes this project special, but instead what they write on them. Everyday, have the children trace one of their hands and decorate it to make a hand turkey. I gave the children as little direction on that as possible. I don’t like to give them examples so they don’t just copy my ideas. I like to leave the creative liberties in their hands.
Once they have completed their hand turkey for the day, have them write one thing they are thankful for and the date in the center of the turkey. Each day, have them complete one turkey and place it into the box. Since I don’t watch the kids over the weekend, and there are some days when they have extracurriculars, some days they have to make more than one. Brooks doesn’t enjoy making them as much, but the things he chooses to write are very entertaining. What he writes usually makes up for the rushed, “chubby fingered” turkeys he makes.
Not only do the children have to think about things they are thankful for each day, but by Thanksgiving Day they will have a box full of things they are thankful for. Anna Kate is so excited to be able to share these things with her parents, that she actually hides the box each day when I leave.
I have been amazed at some of the things the kids have told me they are thankful for. The first few were fairly obvious. They both chose family, friend, and God in no order for the first three days. After that it got pretty unpredictable. They have said everything from “cheese” to “Auburn”. They have also taught me a lot about thankfulness. Again, I tried not to offer up too many examples so they would tell me what THEY were thankful for. After they finished naming off family and friends, they started to name off things that I take for granted in day to day life, like water and shelter. I found it amazing that at their age, they thought about being thankful for things like that. Things that I don’t even think to be thankful for now that I am paying for them.
Since we still have a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, we still have quite a few more turkeys to make. But I have enjoyed this project so far. There are a lot of ways to personalize this project to fit you and the little ones in your life. You could also do this project as a family or as an adult. Instead of drawing on turkeys, you could simply write what you are thankful for on a sheet of paper, everyday for the month. It would be a great thing to look back at on Thanksgiving day with the ones you love. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! Happy Thanksgiving, All!