Posts Tagged With: Pinterest

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!)


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.


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!)



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.



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 …

Categories: Activities @ Home, Annual Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bringing the Rodeo Home

So, you didn’t make it to Burwell?  Or to the Durham for Wild West Day?  I also didn’t make it to either one.   But I do have some ideas of how you can bring the rodeo to your house.  Okay – not the events, but maybe the feel?

When my oldest turned seven, we had a cowboy party for him.  This was before I had heard of Pintrest, so I simply did old-fashioned searching through books and a bit on the internet to find fun ideas.  I am not the best at decorating or planning parties – I usually concentrate more on the menu because I enjoy the cooking part.  But I have to say that throwing our own rodeo was fairly simple and quite enjoyable. Dollar Tree happened to have cowboy hats and bandanas at the time, so the party favors were easy!  But so were the events that I planned.

Here are some of the activities that we did.  So pick one if you need a distraction or all of them if you are looking to make an afternoon of it!

1) Stick horses races around an obstacle course or circle drive.  (If you don’t own any stick horses, go to Spoonful Homemade Hobby Horse to learn how.  I am not that crafty either, but I think I could tackle this project!)  Or in a pinch – have the kids use broom handles and their imaginations.  (Thankfully my Mom had kept our old one – that was the simplest of all!)

Hobby HorsePicture taken from Spoonful website – NO, this is not my creation! 🙂

2) Jump over the rattler.  We took a long piece of rope and attached film canisters (filled with beans).  When you move the rope along the ground, the beans rattle.  (I would highly recommend using duct tape to attach the canisters!)  This is a fun game for any age.  If older kids are around, have people hold both ends of the rope and have the kids jump over it (kind of like a lower limbo game but going over instead of under!)  Spoonful Rattlesnake Ideas  You could also add a bit of Nebraska flair and use popcorn to fill the canisters instead of beans.  (Not have any film canisters?  Ask a film developer to save some for you.  Not everyone has moved to digital photos 🙂  )

3) Paper Bag Vests.  Thankfully many parents stayed to help with the party – making a vest for every child would have been quite the chore!  These also turned into craft projects as every child had fun decorating their vest before putting them on.  (Not have any paper bags?  Most grocery stores are glad to donate to the cause, especially if you tell them that you are creating crafts with kids!)

Best example that I found was the Crayola Cowboy Vest.

Cowboy VestAgain – this picture was taken directly from the Crayola website – this was not my kids creation.  Our vests were a bit uneven and really did not make it into pictures.  I was a bit busy just trying to keep the party moving!

4) Rubber band shooters: My sweet husband decided to volunteer to make all of the guests rubber band guns to take home.  They were a HUGE hit, (both literally and figuratively 🙂 .)  Of course so far, I cannot find the link with how to make them.  And I wanted to post of a picture of the hidden project, but my 4 year old hid the gun that has been sitting on the dresser for days.  He is sleeping and waking him would not be such a good idea.  So, I will post it later.

Mini Rubber Band Gun

5) Root beer using dry ice.  This part was the coolest for me.  I took our big three gallon jug, added the ingredients and a block of dry ice.   Our kitchen suddenly looked steamy.  The recipe that I used was found in a book, but I found a similar one online.  I am not sure why I have not made this again – it was that cool.  I think it probably helped that my Dad stuck around and helped with the dry ice part – probably safer for me, the accident-prone one, too!

Homemade Root Beer

Overall our party was hit.  Thanks to lots of people helping (the parents of kids and my Mom who also helped me get organized at the beginning!)  The only downfall – snow.  To be expected in Nebraska in winter, but not the 2nd week-end of October.  The kids stuck it out and played outside for quite awhile but did decide to bring the party indoors.

Cold Cowboys group picture

At least we were smart and put aside the rubber band guns inside.  Or else the party might not have had such a happy ending!

Well, I had hoped to include some more great party ideas, but I am tired.  Then I remembered that is what Pinterest is for!  And I also realize that you probably are not into the thought of a cowboy party at 10:30 on a Saturday night.  But … I had written most of this post earlier in the week and wanted to make sure to share it.  On Monday, I plan on “taking” you to the spot where I celebrated my favorite birthday ever.  And since that really has little to do with cowboys, I decided that I had better post this tonight.  So, sweet dreams! I am definitely ready to hit the hay! 🙂

Categories: Activities @ Home | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social Media Whirlwind through Nebraska

As a mom, I often feel like I am twirling around.  Keeping up with my responsibilities can be a bit overwhelming, and I can be a bit too good at ignoring the things that are not my favorite.  (Like balancing the checkbook or mopping the floor!)  This new world of social media options causes me to feel even more twisted.  And having been a bit too close to the 2004 tornado that passed near our Hickman home has left me rather leery of whirlwinds!


Picture of the Omaha tornado from 100 years ago that I am perfectly fine with having missed!

I am caught right in between the informational age.  After all, I can still remember our Apple Computer green screen and playing “Little Brick Out” as a child. And I didn’t really begin sending e-mails until I was a senior in college.  Back then, even being on the internet was a big deal.  Cell phones were often in a bag in your car for emergencies – not for connecting you to the world 24/7.

Because I enjoy writing and like staying connected, I can struggle with social media.  I will admit I have checked my Facebook page during my kids’ baseball games.  Not very often, but more than I should have.  Although I like watching, sitting there for 2 hours does seem a bit long at times.  Or I will quickly look up things on the internet on family outings that could have waited until later.  I know that is something that I need to work on because I do want to be fully there for them – not distracted all of the time.

But despite the pull of my smart phone, I know that I am definitely not technologically savvy.  I really do not fully understand all of the options that blogging presents to me.  I thought tumbler described my daughter who does gymnastics.  And “digg it” sounds like a 70’s phrase – not one from today.  And for a long time, I thought “Linked in” was only for people who lived in Lincoln who were a part of some secret club. I still think tweeting is for the birds. Although I have to appreciate one’s ability to abbreviate thoughts, rather than going on and on (like writers can tend to do …)  But, while I love my life, I am really not sure that anyone beyond my family would enjoy subscribing to it.

Took kids swimming Wednesday.  Sunburns abound despite sunscreen.  Too little or too late?

Really?  Not even sure that is worth writing home about, much less having it land in a bunch of people’s accounts.  Now I have to admit that I might like being a Twitter follower during Husker football season.  I would enjoy knowing the inside scoop of what is happening on the field during 1st quarter.  But I think for now, I will just stick with watching television sports coverage after the game.


One of my goals in writing on this site is to talk about what my family has experienced through Nebraska.  Sorry – I already broke that rule this week by writing about Burwell, despite the fact that I have not set foot in that town.  Yet.   I really do not want to be just a tourism site – you can go to Visit Nebraska for that.  But I know that events will be coming up that will be perfect for families.  Events that if I would simply blog about them later would already be missed.  That is like looking through a stack of vacation pictures taken by someone else – definitely not the same thing as being there.

So, while so far I have not joined the world of tumbling or digging or tweeting, I do know Facebook.  So, I have started an Odyssey Through Nebraska Facebook page.  All of my posts go directly there, so if you really do not like getting e-mail updates, you can know about what I am writing by checking that page sometimes.  I also am hoping to post information about upcoming family friendly activities in Nebraska.  Like today, the Durham Museum is having a “Wild West” day, and that fits in perfectly with what I have been posting lately even!  (Visit my Facebook page to learn more!)  (In the future, I will try to give you more notice than just a few hours)


Now this does not mean that I am personally endorsing every publicized event or even attending them all.  In fact, I would love to head up to the Durham today, but for my daughter, attending her friends’ birthday party is a much more significant event.  But maybe some of you have the time today and want to get away on this beautiful almost spring-like July day.

I also did finally join the world of Pinterest too.  So, I hope to gradually begin posting some of my Nebraska pictures on my site.  I want more people to know about our great state!

At some point, I will hopefully have links on my blog where you can connect to either my Facebook or Pinterest pages.  (I will be calling one of my tech savvy friends to help me with that).  While there will be some overlap between those pages, I am hoping to include unique aspects to each site.  Nothing was more annoying in college than to go to class and listen to the professor basically read the assigned textbook pages back to me.  Just as there was no reason to go to class to learn what I had already read, there is no point in having three “Odyssey through Nebraska” sites that are all almost identical.  I am hopeful that the Facebook page especially will be a community site where many of you will also post.  Many of you will know about events that have not crossed my radar, and I want you to share them.

I hope you know that I do appreciate you joining me on this blog adventure.  (And if you decide to join me in the other lands of social media, that is great too.)  I also desire to keep my online world in check.  Since one of my main goals of this blog is to explore Nebraska with my kids, I do not want to be so busy connecting with everyone else that I forget to be a part of my own family and do not manage to engage in the experiences with them.  So, while future social media connections may be eventual possibilities, for now the ones that I have entered are enough of a whirlwind to me.  And don’t worry – if I begin tweeting, you’ll be the first to know.  Apart from those waiting with bated breath on Twitter for me to join of course!


P.S. If you are one who can keep up with all of the social media, this entry was not intended to bash you in any way.  I am guessing that for you “technology” is a ten letter word the way that it was intended, rather than the four letter word that it often is for me!

Categories: Metro, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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