Thanksgiving is a North American celebration held in the beginning of October in Canada and at the end of November in the United States. But even if you don’t live in a country that celebrates Thanksgiving, you can use this theme day to remind your children of what they have to be thankful for.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
Thanksgiving is celebrated at different times in Canada and the United States, and in other countries and cultures instead of Thanksgiving they have harvest celebrations. For instance, Jewish people celebrate Sukkot (an eight day festival of thanksgiving), in China they have a Moon festival, the Czech Republic have a harvest Celebration, in Barbados they have a Sugar Cane Festival, in Japan they celebrate Labor Thanksgiving Day, and in southern India they have a four-day rice festival called Pongal. You may want to explore and learn about a different culture or countries tradition at this time of year for something different to see how different people around the world give thanks.
I couldn’t think of much for this theme but you could sing the Johnny Appleseed Grace song: http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content/grace/grace-165.asp
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in Thanksgiving Coloring Pages or print out my “I Am Thankful” Coloring Page.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook: What are you thankful for? What does your family do for thanksgiving? What do you like best about thanksgiving? How do other countries give thanks?
Choose the level of your child:
¨ Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer
¨ Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
¨ Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
¨ Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
¨ Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
¨ As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story about the first thanksgiving or a story that takes place during thanksgiving.
Print out a Thanksgiving Word Search:
Check here for the answer keys:
HINT: We have a collection of paperback Thanksgiving Books that we take out once a year on Thanksgiving Weekend. My boys love the surprise of taking out the Thanksgiving Books each year.
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about thanksgiving.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about thanksgiving or other harvest celebrations around the world.
Go to the library on your own to find books about thanksgiving or other harvest celebrations around the world to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for ``Thanksgiving`` under children`s books). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Read some of these nonfiction/learning titles if you can find them:
· The Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Harvest, by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis, The Millbrook press, 2000 – This book looks at how people of different cultures celebrated the harvest season in the past including the Chinese, the Celts, Germanic people of Northern Europe, England, Jewish, Indian, and children from Angola, as well as the first American Thanksgiving shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. It includes some recipes and crafts at the back of the book as well.
· We Gather Together” Celebrating Harvest Season, by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Linda Bleck, Dutton Children’s Books, 2006 – This book teaches about the seasons and in particular autumn and the harvest festivals associated with it. It even looks at different cultures and how they celebrate the harvest.
Here are some pictures books about Thanksgiving:
· 10 Fat Turkeys, by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Rich Deas, Scholastic In., 2004 – While this isn’t about thanksgiving, it is a funny counting book about turkeys.
· The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Random House, 1990 – Papa bear really wants to win the prize pumpkin competition but after losing learns the real meaning of Thanksgiving.
· Clifford’s Thanksgiving, by Norman Bridwell, Scholastic In., 1993 – Clifford the Big Red Dog misses his dog family at thanksgiving and decides to go to the city to visit his mother.
· The Night Before Thanksgiving, by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Tammie Lyon, Grosset & Dunlap, 2001 – Using the same rhyme scheme as “The Night Before Christmas” this book details one family’s preparations and activities before and on Thanksgiving Day.
· One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims, by B.G. Hennessy and illustrated by Lynne Cravath, scholastic Inc., 1999 – Using the counting rhyme this book shows some pilgrims and some Wampanoag preparing for the first thanksgiving. It also gives a little history of pilgrim and Wampanoag life at the back of the book.
· Thanksgiving Day, story by Anne Rockwell and pictures by Lizzy Rockwell, scholastic Inc., 1999 – This is a picture book about the history of thanksgiving.
· Thanksgiving Is Here, by Diane Goode, Scholastic Inc., 2003 – This book shows a family’s activities on Thanksgiving Day. My boys love the illustrations, especially watching the two babies (one cries the other smiles until the end).
· This is the Turkey, by Abby Levine and illustrated by Paige Billin-Fry, Scholastic Inc., 2005 – This rhyming book shows all the happenings around a big Thanksgiving gathering, including a flying turkey dinner!
NOTE: My son invented this craft when he was 6 years old.
Materials: Paper, paint (brown, red, yellow, orange and black), paint brushes, paper towels, newspaper or plastic to cover the work table, art smock or old clothes, paper towels
Step 1: Help your child paint one of his/her hands including the fingers red and then stamp his/her hand onto the blank paper as a red tail.
Step 2: Help your child paint the other hand palm only (not fingers) brown and then stamp his/her hand onto the blank piece of paper to create the brown body of the turkey.
Step 3: Help your child wash and dry his/her hands before proceeding to the next steps.
Step 4: Using black, yellow, orange and red paint have your child paint on the turkey’s eyes, beak, wattle, and feet.
Step 5: Let the picture dry and then display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook or give it away as a Thanksgiving Card on Thanksgiving Weekend.
Materials: White paper, yellow or brown paper, child safe scissors, a piece of bubble wrap cut into a triangle, a used cork, various sizes of plastic bottle tops, various colours of paint , paint brushes, paper towels, newspaper or plastic to cover the work table, art smock or old clothes, paper towels, glue stick.
Step 1: Help your child cut out a cornucopia shape (a horn shape) from the yellow or brown paper.
Step 2: Explain that the various objects (cork, bottle tops, bubble wrap) are going to be the various fruits and vegetables in the cornucopia and ask your child to be creative with the objects.
Step 3: Paint each object whatever colour is appropriate for the fruit/vegetable (for instance you can paint the triangular piece of bubble wrap purple, blue or green to represent grapes) and then press the object paint side down onto the white paper to make a stamp.
Step 4: Continue to encourage your child to make different things out of the objects like brown nuts, oranges, red apples, carrots (using the side of the cork) as he/she stamps them onto the paper. My boys also wanted to use paintbrushes to paint a banana.
Step 5: When the paint dries glue the cornucopia shape onto the paper so it looks like the fruits and vegetables are tumbling out of the horn of plenty.
I AM THANKFUL TREE:
Materials: Coloured paper, child safe scissors, glue stick, a pencil.
Step 1: Have your child draw or help your child draw a tree shape on brown paper (we coloured white paper with a brown crayon because we didn’t have any brown paper and thought it looked like tree bark) with a large trunk and many branches.
Step 2: Help your child cut the tree out and paste it on a piece of coloured paper (your child’s choice).
Step 3: Cut out leaf shaped pieces from various coloured pieces of paper (red, brown, yellow, orange) to represent autumn leaves (to make them all the same shape and size as I did, layer the paper over each other and cut together at the same time).
Step 4: Ask your child to think of all the things he/she is thankful for and encourage him/her to write the answers on the leaves. You can write the answers on the leaves for younger children who cannot write yet.
Step 5: Read each leaf out loud as your child glues them to the tree.
NAPKIN RING/PLACE CARDS:
Materials: Empty paper towel roll (or toilet paper rolls), paint and brushes (plus art smock or old clothes to wear while painting and something to cover the table), waxed paper, various colours of craft paper, markers and/or crayons, child safe scissors, glue stick, thanksgiving napkins.
Step 1: Paint the paper towel rolls orange (or any other autumnal colour) and let them dry on the waxed paper. (Use as many rolls as you need depending on how many people will require napkins. You can make 5 or 6 napkin rings per roll).
Step 2: When the paint is dry have your child draw symbols of fall or thanksgiving on the coloured paper using crayons or markers. Here are some ideas: coloured leaves, pilgrim’s hat, pumpkins, pie, a turkey, a cornucopia, wheat…
Step 3: Cut each paper towel roll into 5 or 6 rings (as wide as you desire).
Step 4: Help your child cut out each picture and then glue one picture per cut out paper ring.
Step 5: Roll each napkin (we tilted the napkin into a diamond and rolled from one point inward) and then stuff into the paper ring.
Step 6: To make each napkin ring a place card write the name of each guest on the ring or picture.
THANK YOU CARDS:
Note: Make them now so they are ready to use for after Christmas, Birthdays or any time your child gets a gift.
Materials: Blank cards (found at a craft store) or use harder construction paper and cut and fold to make your own card, markers and/or crayons, stickers, stamps (try to find one that says “thank you” on it at a craft store).
Step 1: Give your child the blank cards, stickers, stamps and markers/crayons and let him/her decorate the card however he/she likes.
Step 2: Match each card with an envelope and stow away to use when needed.
Take out your favourite recipe (or search in your cookbooks or online) for pumpkin muffins or pumpkin cookies.
Enjoy any harvest fruits like pears or apples for a snack on this theme day.
If you are attending a big Thanksgiving dinner together with your children make your favourite appetizer ahead of time to share with everyone.
Make a turkey sandwich for lunch. We made ours to look like turkeys as suggested here: http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/teeny-turkeys-688352/
Make some autumn vegetable soup using pumpkin or squash, carrots, parsnips, celery and potatoes and other harvested vegetables from your local farmer`s market. Cook them in vegetable or chicken broth, add your favourite spices and puree for a warm and easy soup.
Of course a full turkey dinner would work for this theme day but if you want something simpler make some turkey burgers using ground turkey and thyme.
For me, nothing says Thanksgiving more than a pumpkin pie.
Read about the history of thanksgiving, including myths, and watch some videos about how thanksgiving became a national holiday on this site: http://www.history.com/content/thanksgiving
Try this site for more history including information on the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Hebrews and Egyptians: http://www.holidays.net/thanksgiving/story.htm
This site has the first thanksgiving story: http://people.howstuffworks.com/thanksgiving2.htm
THANKSGIVING BOARD GAME:
Materials: Coloured paper (we used two sheets), markers or crayons, glue stick, tape (optional), child safe scissors, a coin.
Step 1:Glue two sheets of paper side by side together to make a large game board.
Step 2: Either draw large squares or circles ahead of time on the board for each space or draw the shape after you’ve done the writing. Write “start” on the first space and “finish” on the last space.
Step 3: Together with your child come up with different Thanksgiving related things to write on each space. We included simple actions like clapping your hands, singing, thumbs up...and also standard board game instructions like roll again, miss a turn (although beware of temper tantrums If you have a competitive child), go ahead q space, go back 1 space, etc.
Step 4: We also drew little pictures for each space that related to what was written.
Step 5: When the instructions for each space are finished tape the two pages together along the glued seam to make the game board stronger.
Step 6: Draw some thanksgiving related playing pieces (like a turkey or a pie) and cut them out to use when playing (or use Thanksgiving stickers on folded pieces of paper).
Step 7: Play your game! Flip a coin for each turn. Heads—move one space. Tails—move two spaces.
Here are some examples of what we wrote on our spaces:
· It’s time to drive over for dinner. Move ahead 1 space.
· We made it! Knock on the door 3 times.
· You helped to set the table. Roll again.
· What’s your favourite thing to eat for Thanksgiving?
· Eat some turkey. Pat your belly!
· You’re full! Lose a turn.
Q: What type of key cannot open doors?
A: A turkey
Q: Why didn`t the turkey eat anything for dinner?
A: because he was already stuffed.
Q: What type of music did the Pilgrims like?
A: Plymouth Rock
Q: What`s the best thing to put in a pumpkin pie?
A: Your teeth.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows that take place around or are about thanksgiving.
· A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
· Home Alone
Host or attend a thanksgiving dinner.
A cornucopia is a symbol of food and abundance and all we have to be thankful for.
I Am Thankful Tree
Thanksgiving Napkin Holders
Thank You Cards
Make a Thanksgiving Game
A Turkey Sandwich
A Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving Dinner