What better time for a post about a Thanksgiving project than in February? Between Nolan’s quiet book pages and all of my Christmas projects apparently I missed blogging about this! Which is a shame since it’s one of my favorite traditions J and I started. I’m just happy I realized I overlooked it.
So towards the end of October 2014 I decided I wanted to find a way for J to talk about the things she’s thankful for. Do any of your friends on Facebook do the “thankful post” every day in November? It was really popular a few years back, but now almost no one does it. I still do and it’s my favorite time of year. Of course I think the generic ones that are thankful for “family” and “friends” and “health” are all boring, so I find fun ways to express my gratefulness for life–things like hot dogs to keep my St Bernard in check when he sees kids/dogs/cats/squirrels while on walks or Google for answering my questions like “why will my 4 month old not sleep more than 30 minutes at a time?!” I always do a serious one on the last day of the month, but I think it’s fun to come up with creative ideas. Especially because that’s what makes life so great–all of those small things that you never really think about. I really and truly am grateful for hot dogs and their amazing power over my Saint.
So I wanted to find a way to do something similar with J. I finally settled on an idea I had seen floating around online: a Thankful Tree. Except I wanted to do it completely differently. We would draw a giant tree, paint it and hang it on the wall. J could pick 30 neat looking leaves from outside. Each day she would tell me something she was thankful for, I would write it on the leaf and then hang it on the tree on the wall. I LOVED it! Here’s a picture from our first Thanksgiving doing this, so an almost complete tree. I used clothespins to attach the leaves onto the tree (which I completely forgot I did! I used tape last year, which did not stick. I’ll have to try to remember to go back to clothespins this year). One thing I did not like was using real leaves. Neat idea, but not practical…what happens to leaves after they fall off the tree…um, they turn brown and crackly. Duh.
Once November was over I had J make a turkey book. I wanted it to look like this, but J put her own spin on it which I’m more than fine with–in fact I prefer it! She’s going through a phase right now where everything has to look exactly the same as the craft that I show her and it bugs me. Use your creativity to make it your own girl! I cut out pieces of different colored construction paper for the book and held it together with pipe cleaners (J’s idea. I’ve added staples to it since then). Then I wrote one thing she said she was thankful for on each page, that way I can look back on it years from now and laugh that she was thankful for things like “balloons” and “breakfast”. That’s my girl! This year we made another thankful tree. I mixed the paint a bit better so it turned out more brown and less purple, hooray! I wrote “Jordan is thankful for…” in block letters down the tree and let her color them in. And then instead of using real leaves I cut out 30 leaves with my Silhouette in 5 different shapes and 4 different colors of cardstock–red, yellow, orange and brown.
Then for our family activity we all painted them to give them a little extra “something”. Since C has a tendency to eat paint I tried out another homemade paint recipe, this time this one from Learning 4 Kids. Look at those colors! And the consistency was pretty cool. J, of course, refused to use her fingers and insisted on using a paintbrush instead. She loathes being dirty.This one was a lot more successful than the one we tried out at Halloween for pumpkin decorating–he had a taste or two and then must not have enjoyed it because he actually stopped eating and instead painted himself, us and a little bit of the leaves. Keeper!!!!!We set the leaves out to dry and then once November rolled around I asked J what she was thankful each day. I used colored Sharpies to write them down and then she taped them to the tree/wall with Scotch tape. Which, like I said earlier, did not work. At least half of them were on the floor by the end of the month. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t keep up with asking her after Thanksgiving, so she was about a week short on thankful things. I definitely need to get better at that next year. I was going to have her make another turkey book but when looking at the one from the previous year I saw how much space there was on each page, so I figured I’ll just keep adding to that instead! I’ll write every year in a different colored marker and then make a key on the back front cover. Brilliant! These were my favorites from 2015: “tray lunch” and “everything in the world…except Roman” [our dog]. Oh J.
This is seriously one of my favorite traditions. I can’t wait until C is old enough to start and we have twice as many leaves on the tree. I just think it’s a great lesson to teach kids–doesn’t matter how big or small, but find one thing every single day to be thankful about. Because life is precious and we need to appreciate every single thing that we have.