The month of November is associated with giving thanks and I realize that it is difficult during this time of the pandemic, but I decided to look up things that can help you give your children ways to be thankful. We may have to focus more on the everyday things we are thankful for this year, but we can be creative like I’m thankful I have a bed to sleep in and food to eat. The kids will get creative with these if we get them started.
These activities can be done at any time during the month of November and used to decorate your home for the big day. It’s a win-win; you get to engage in a meaningful activity with your kids, and you create some homemade, low-budget Thanksgiving decor.
1. Thankful Tree
A wonderful craft project that can be used and added to throughout November is the “thankful tree.” Your family can decide to create this tree in any number of ways. You could collect branches, or purchase them from a craft store, and arrange them in a jar or vase to make a “tree.” You could also draw a tree on paper or cut a tree trunk out of brown paper and tape it to the wall.
You can create leaves for your tree in any number of ways too, such as cutting out paper leaves or tracing your kids’ hands on construction paper and cutting those out to make leaves.
Throughout November, set a container of these leaves next to your thankful tree. Whenever a family member thinks of something they’re grateful for, have them write their item on a leaf and affix or hang the leaf on the tree. By Thanksgiving, you’ll have a great family decoration that also expresses the meaning of the holiday.
2. Handprint Wreath
Similar to the thankful tree, this one is also about writing what you’re thankful for on individual “leaves.” The thankful wreath, however, works better as a one-time craft project for an afternoon.
For this one, trace your kids’ hands onto construction paper. The paper can be any color you like, but the handprints will look particularly festive if you choose fall colors like red, brown, and gold. Just as with the thankful tree, write one item of gratitude on each of the handprints.
Young kids especially love handprint crafts, so this activity and the one below are great for ages 3 through 8. If your child is not yet able to write, you can have them tell you what they’re thankful for and write it down for them.
To make the wreath, cut the center out of a paper plate; this will act as your wreath base. Next, glue the handprints around the wreath. Hang up your wreath somewhere inside or on your front door for another meaningful Thanksgiving decoration.
3. Handprint Turkey
On a piece of construction paper, trace your child’s hand. The thumb will become the turkey’s head and neck, and the fingers will be the turkey’s feathers. Give them some crayons and have them write one thing they’re thankful for in each of the four feathers.
To make this craft especially meaningful, you can repeat it every year and collect the handprint turkeys in a scrapbook as a kind of Thanksgiving time capsule.
4. Gratitude Turkey
For this craft, rather than tracing a hand, you’ll cut individual feathers out of construction paper and have your kids write one thing they’re thankful for on each feather. You can then glue the feathers to whatever kind of turkey body you choose, such as:
A flat paper cutout
Painted Styrofoam spheres (make the body from a larger sphere and the head from a smaller one and attach them with toothpicks)
A large brown pom-pom
A pine cone
You can also have fun with this craft by adding extras like googly eyes, legs and feet, and a turkey waddle from construction paper and other materials.
5. Gratitude Pumpkin
This is a variation on a paper strip pumpkin. First, cut uniform strips from orange construction paper. You can cut them either the long way (making them 11 inches long) for a large pumpkin or the short way (making them 8.5 inches long) for a small pumpkin.
Stack your strips and use a hole-punch to punch a hole at the top, straight through all the strips, then punch another hole through the bottom of all the strips. Have your kids write something they’re thankful for on each strip, then re-stack all the strips with the gratitude statements facing in the same direction.
Take a green pipe cleaner, lay it lengthwise against the back of the strips (the side without writing) and pop the ends of the pipe cleaner through the holes on the top and bottom of the strips. Push the strips down the pipe cleaner until they’re as round as you want them, and then fan the strips around the pipe cleaner to make a spherical shape. The gratitude statements should end up facing the outside. Once you’ve got your pumpkin shape, knot the bottom end of the pipe cleaner to hold the strips in place.
Next, cut leaves from green construction paper, punch a hole in each one, and slide them over the top end of the pipe cleaner. Once they’re attached, twist a knot into the top end of pipe cleaner, leaving a bit of pipe cleaner at the top to curl into a stem.
Here are a few books on the concepts of giving and gratitude:
“Please, Mr. Panda” and “Thank You, Mr. Panda” by Steve Antony
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
“Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud
“Mama Panya’s Pancakes” by Mary Chamberlin
Next week, I will have some more activities all about thanks for the whole family. If you want more before I post next week, I found all of these activities on https://www.moneycrashers.com/teach-kids-gratitude-thanksgiving
I am thankful that I am able to have this column and be able to help other people use things to help the children.
We have all been having to reach deep into our creative minds to find things to replace those that our children cannot participate in now. There is no greater time than the Fall. Just look around and find things that can replace what is usually done during this time of the year. Most of you have been doing a great job of this and will continue until things turn back to what we used to call normal because our children are important and making sure they have a childhood that even though it may be different, it can still be fun. I hope this week’s things help with this.
Have fun with your children this week, it will make you and them feel better. Keep in mind. I try to do my best to find things that are not a ton of work for you. I wrote everything out on here this week so you don’t have to look anything up.
Let me know any ideas you have or what you would like to see and I’ll get right on it for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember to be kind to each other and continue to set a good example for our children they need us so much right now. See you all next week!
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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