The holiday offer great opportunities to get our children excited about school and character building. Just a little effort can add a positive spin to daily chores and school work. Or maybe you’re just looking to have a little fun this Thanksgiving!
Active Ideas with Gourds!
I had a Hawaiian birthday party for my son and we did some fun activities with coconuts. Well, why couldn’t we adapt those to Thanksgiving using gourds and pumpkins? So, how about some physical games this Thanksgiving to work off all that food? We have found that when adults participate, the fun is multiplied!
1. Obstacle course – set up chairs and other small obstacles that can be run around. Have each person use a broom to push a gourd around the obstacle course. It’s not as easy as it sounds! You could set up two courses and have people race or you could use one course and time each person to see who is fastest.
2. Pumpkin bowling – stack plastic cups in a pyramid or use set up empty plastic bottles in a bowling pattern and roll pumpkins or gourds to knock down the cups or bottles.
Being Thankful & Building Character
1. Turkeys of Encouragement – this idea works best if you start at least a week before Thanksgiving to give everyone time to think. Make a turkey, minus the feathers, for each member of your family. Put the person’s name on the turkey body along with a favorite Bible verse. Hang the turkeys on a wall or door that is easily accessible for every family member. Cut out enough colorful feathers out of colored or construction paper to attach to each turkey. Place the feathers near the wall or door in an envelope (6×9 envelopes work well) along with a pencil or pen. Everyone, even visitors, can write reasons they’re thankful for that particular person on the feathers and then attach the feathers on the turkeys. Examples could be: I am thankful you read with me, I am thankful that you work so hard for our family, or Thank you for being obedient for mommy and daddy. You can overlap feathers, if necessary. On Thanksgiving, each person can take down their turkey and read the comments.
Many thanks to Jamie Sue Austin at freeprintablefun.org for the following turkey and feathers pattern. Right click on the image and copy into a document to print. You can use one of the feathers for a pattern to cut out colored feathers or print several sheets on
2. Make it a Year of Giving – giving back to others when we have so much shouldn’t be limited to Thanksgiving and other holidays. Thanksgiving offers a wonderful time to brainstorm various ways your family can give to others in need throughout the year. Begin by brainstorming, with your children, ideas for serving other people. Be sure to allow your children to submit their ideas so they buy into the plan. You can help them focus by thinking of those who serve us or are in need. For example, sending care packages to soldiers, visiting nursing homes, supporting specific charities, inviting someone who doesn’t have a family to dinner, volunteering at an animal shelter or a hospital, collect donations to take to Goodwill, have a garage sale and donate the money to your church or a favorite charity, etc.
Try to come up with enough ideas to do something once a month or so. Then take out a calendar and work with your children to schedule a way of giving each month. It’s best to schedule high exposure opportunities, such as visiting a nursing home or sending a care package to a soldier, for non-holiday months because so many people contribute during holidays and other times of the year are neglected. By your next Thanksgiving, you can delight in remembering the ways your family gave to others, being as Christ to them!
3. Cornucopia to share – sometimes children feel small or less than useful because they don’t realize all of the ways they can be helpful! Use a basket or a cornucopia and fill it with tried corn, small gourds, etc. Help your child brainstorm ways that he or she can helpful to others: praying for someone, specific cleaning ideas, sending a card, reading to a sibling, helping out a neighbor, etc.
Write each of these ideas on a small pumpkin shaped (or other fall shape) piece of paper, then hole punch and tie each, using colorful fall ribbon, to one of the items in the cornucopia. Have your child select one each day to do throughout the holiday season. You can also reverse the activity by having your child select one to do and then tying it to an item in the cornucopia once it’s completed. For some children, this works better as an incentive to attach an idea to every item!
Incorporating Thanksgiving into school can add fun to the usual routine.
4. Vocabulary cup – using the pattern on page 56 in The Big Book of Books and Activities: An Illustrated Guide for Teacher, Parents, and Anyone Who Works With Kids!, have your child fold the cup. Have your child brainstorm Thanksgiving words that come to mind (thankful, Pilgrims, turkey, etc) and have your child write each word on a corn, leaf, turkey or other seasonal cut out. If you don’t want your child to cut out the shapes, you can find them pre-cut in school supply stores. Older children can draw the words out of the cups to write sentences and/or paragraphs.
5. Startwrite worksheets – if you recall my review of the Startwrite software, holidays are an excellent time to use them to your advantage. In the example below, the student wrote words and phrases of things for which he is thankful using the acrostic for THANKS. You can add clipart from the software or have your child illustrate the white space at the bottom of the page. This can be a writing assignment to assess the written work or you can use it as a handwriting assignment or copy work by supplying a Bible verse or a Thanksgiving poem for older children, such as the one below, Ballad of the Mayflower.
Another idea to consider is using this time to have your children write “thankful for you” notes to people explaining why they’re thankful for them. You can use this time to teach the friendly letter format and use this software to create a template for your children to follow. It’s a great opportunity to teach your children to write a note even when they haven’t received a gift!
By Linda G. Paulsen
There was a ship, Mayflower by name; Hey, Ho~
Took a trip, she crossed the main; Hey, Ho~
Full of people seeking peace,
Praying for freedom to increase;
Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o! The Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock; Hey, Ho~
Simple people, strudy stock; Hey, Ho~
To be free they crossed the sea,
Thanked the Lord on bended knee; Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o!
How when the crops were gathered in; Hey, Ho~
A dinner party did begin; Hey, Ho~
Pilgrims, Indians, pumpkin pie, Turkey, venison, corn, oh my!
Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o! Bet you thought my song was done; Hey, Ho~
But I’ve really just begun; Hey, Ho~
Ever since that autumn day,
Thanksgiving has been here to stay, Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o!
Hope you have a blessed time with these activities and ideas!
May God’s blessings pour out over your entire family this Thanksgiving! What special activities will you be doing with your children this Thanksgiving?This is an updated post originally written by Beth Hempton, formerly with Epi Kardia. Beth is now teaching virtual classes using Epi Kardia/Train up a Child Publishing homeschool curricula. Check out Beth’s classes by visiting her site, classesbybeth.com.