Family Thanksgiving Celebrations (in Nebraska)

Many schools across Nebraska are closed today.  I have to say the same is true of ours – I gave my kids their assignments for the week early, so that we could have today off.  That being said, I am still planning on doing some fun activities that will help us to acknowledge the importance of tomorrow.  Some are meaningful – a few are fun.  But I am hoping that all that will help us to stay in the spirit of gratitude.

As with many experiences in our house, music and books are definitely involved.  I posted my personal Thanksgiving playlist yesterday on my other blog. And later today, I will post an entry just about the books that we read almost every year to celebrate this special holiday of gratefulness.

At first I thought about putting a bunch of links of different Thanksgiving activities.  But in this world of Pinterest, that search can actually be overwhelming.  Which provides too many options for one family to do in a day or maybe even in a dozen Thanksgivings.  So, instead I am posting some of my favorite activities that we have actually done – providing both simple suggestions and ways to “take it up a notch!” (Thanks, Emerill, for that great catch phrase!)

HISTORY

Simple: Scholastic has a link to an online Plymouth Plantation field trip.  These excellent re-enactments would provide your family with background to the true first Thanksgiving.  Easy to watch and quite educational!

Take it up a notch …:

My dear friend, Jami, is the queen of making celebrations more meaningful.  I really appreciate her intentional way of living.  She shared a great idea that she had found where you have your kids actually walk through the first Thanksgiving that she found at No Time for Flashcards.  You can have your kids learn while moving around the room.  Another idea: Jami actually used objects to help with re-enacting the story instead of just using printed pieces of paper.  Below there is a combined list of items that were used to make this interactive.

PLAY

Simple …

Many years ago, my Mom got us the great “Little People “Thanksgiving Celebration” set.  I love getting it down every year and enjoy  hearing the kids act out the first Thanksgiving.  (It appears to me that they updated the set to make it a bit more multicultural – I like our original one a bit better!)  I put this out and imaginations take over.

Take it up a notch …

Using the concept of walking through history above, hide Thanksgiving symbols and have your kids go on a scavenger hunt, taking the time afterwards to talk about what each symbol means.  (Evidently Little People used to sell a “Mayflower” ship.  We just used our “Little People Pirate Ship” and covered up that flag with more of a Pilgrim one!) Here are a dozen suggested items to get you started (the italicized ones are from the “Little People Thanksgiving set). Note: these items could also used as a part of the history walk through from up above.

  1. The Pilgrim and Native Americans (both boys and girls): men and women needed to work together to survive; the Pilgrims needed the help from the Native Americans)
  2. The pumpkin (to symbolize the planting of new foods)
  3. The turkey (reminder that they hunted to get their food)
  4. Benches: reminder that life was not comfortable for them
  5. A ship (actual play one or printed picture) – a reminder of their long journey
  6. Rock (to represent Plymouth Rock and their mark on the New World)
  7. A gavel or mallet to symbolize the Mayflower Compact – that they established laws right away
  8. Box of bandages or medicine: reminder that many were sick and did not survive
  9. A mitten or log: reminder of the rough weather that they had to endure – many were cold
  10. Five kernels of corn (the reminder that although their food was limited, they considered themselves to be blessed)
  11. A Bible (since they came for religious reasons)
  12. Cornucopia (symbolize the blessings they found)

If using items sound too complicated, you could simply print out and hide these meaningful Thanksgiving Scavenger hunt paper clues. (I think this is what we are going to do tonight for a family night!)

PAPER ACTIVITIES

Simple:

Keeping kids occupied: love the pages at Just Coloring Thanksgiving

Take it up a notch:

If your kids are bored with crayons and need a challenge, here are some great educational sheets for Preschoolers and for Early Elementary students.

GAMES

Simple:

If you are like my family, part of tomorrow will involve the television.  (I have one son who is a rather big NFL fan!)  So, rather than fighting it, watch with a bit of purpose.  We have enjoyed these printable Thanksgiving television bingo cards (options for both the Macy Day parade and football games).

Take it up a notch:

If you actually want your children to only eat potatoes and not become the couch variety, Spoonful has a collection of 24 great Thanksgiving Day games – some simple and some more complex.  I think we are going to try the Chopstick pass along using some of their items as well as candy corn.  After all, family togetherness is definitely a goal as well as gratitude!

Odyssey Thankful

 

P.S. I can’t resist one link: Having a Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner.  I have not tried any of these ideas, but they may very well make my list!  Fun ideas for not forgetting the younger ones!

One last annual tradition: we usually try to watch a “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”  Today I finally decided that I am going to add the DVD to our collection, as opposed to scrambling to find it every year! Now  if only, I could get away with serving popcorn and toast for a meal or two …

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