I don’t really like Thanksgiving.
There I said it.
When I was a kid, it was great to eat a lot of yummy food with family and watch football with my dad on the couch.
But, now I’m a married adult with 3 children.
Thanksgiving now means that my work load will triple from its normal amount.
All the extra planning, shopping, and cooking has really adjusted what “holiday” means to me now.
On top of that people just don’t eat as much as they used to, there are all of these food allergy issues, there are rarely serious discussions about being thankful, and people usually die the next day in stampedes at Walmart for discounted waffle irons.
I just don’t get Thanksgiving anymore.
Yes, I am the scrooge of Thanksgiving. My family knows it. I know it. And I am really comfortable with it.
I do have children though and I feel a need to pass on the whimsical memories I was blessed with, so I continue to drag my feet through celebrating it.
Thanksgiving Game Changer
Several years ago, I started to really dig into the history of Thanksgiving.
I am a homeschool mom, and it is my job to make sure we learn a little history with every holiday now.
It turns out that there is quite a bit of history with the Pilgrims that never made it into my public school education.
As we read about them, I became amazed by these hearty, brave people that sailed across the world in search of a better life.
Their journey started with one of their ships nearly sinking. Families had to split up because only so many could go on the remaining ship – the Mayflower.
They were plagued with disease and bad weather before finally landing on Plymouth Rock.
Then they encountered a difficult land to cultivate, more deaths, disease, a freezing winter, and a strong dependence on their Native American friends to just survive.
The following spring they were offered the chance to go home to England by the ship’s crew. Despite their hardships, they unanimously announced that this was their home and they were staying.
Man! I would have been on that boat you guys!
The Pilgrims were a tough bunch, and I am proud they are part of our American history.
I wanted to honor them in our homeschool, but then I hit some more Thanksgiving truth bombs:
1. Pilgrims did not wear belt buckles on their hats or shoes
They also did not dress in tall hats or wear all black.
I guess that means we can’t make any of those adorable pilgrim crafts.
2. Pilgrims did not eat turkey on Thanksgiving
Okay, I don’t even like turkey that much, but who doesn’t love a good turkey craft?!
Turns out that pilgrims ate deer brought by their Native American friends at the first Thanksgiving.
What is a homeschool mom to do?!
In light of all of this new information, I knew I had to come up with something totally unique and different.
I didn’t want my kids learning bad history and focusing on all the wrong things during this holiday.
I ended up developing my own Thanksgiving craft and it is now the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving holiday.
The Best Thanksgiving Craft: The Thankful Tree!
What you need for this craft:
Leaf Printable (Bottom of Post)
Thankful Tree Instructions:
1. Use Leaf printable to print leaf shapes on your fall colored construction paper
If your construction paper is not 8.5×11, you can use a piece of plain computer paper as your guide to cut it down to the right size to go through your printer.
***Alternative: Draw leaf shapes on the construction paper. Make sure they’re big enough for the hole punch and to write something on the leaf.
2. Turn on a good Thanksgiving movie, like Free Birds and cut out the leaves with your kids
3. Have your kids use a hole punch to put a hole in each of the leaves
Be sure to do this step BEFORE you write on the leaves. We made that mistake one year, and my kids were pretty upset when the hole puncher had to go through part of what they had written.
4. Have your kids write one thing they are thankful for on each leaf
***For younger kids, ask then what they are thankful for and write it for them.
5. Hang your leaves!
Yes, you may want to rearrange them so there are not clumps of leaves together.
6. Keep some extra leaves handy around the tree
I found that my kids wanted to keep adding more and more to the tree as they thought of things throughout the day.
It’s really nice to keep a supply of leaves handy to encourage them to keep remembering what they are thankful for!
More Fun, Festive Ways to use your Thankful Tree Craft!
– Have your kids add a leaf to the tree every day leading up to Thanksgiving
– When your kids add a name of somebody to the tree that they are thankful for, send a picture of it and tell them you are thankful for them!
– Ask Thanksgiving dinner guests to add leaves to the tree
– Use the Thankful Tree as your Thanksgiving centerpiece
– During Thanksgiving dessert, have everybody take their leaves off the tree (would help a lot if everybody had their own color). Go around the table and have everyone read what they are truly thankful for this year!
Why this Thanksgiving Craft is Now Our Tradition + Printable!
As I said above, I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving, but this simple craft really gets me in the mood to celebrate it!
I love that my kids are truly focusing on being thankful, and I can join in with them.
If you do go around the table at Thanksgiving to share what you’re thankful for, people usually only list a few things.
And they are easy ones, such as family, health, etc.
This craft encourages my kids and family to dig deep into what they are really thankful for and list as many as then can!
Dare I say it…this simple craft may be more in the spirit of the Pilgrim Thanksgiving than turkey, pie, or football.
I hope you enjoy it with your children and make it a part of your Thanksgiving traditions like we have for the last 3 years!
Grab your instant download HERE and start writing down those thankfuls!