A Lesson in Thanksgiving

Two years ago we were spending Thanksgiving in the pediatric intensive care unit.  Mia fell down and then suddenly had a huge hematoma.  Before her eyes we watched her body be covered in unexplained bruises and dark red spots.  At the hospital we found out that she had no platelets left.  Over the course of days they diagnosed her and worked on treating it.  This all happened the day after we arrived at our new duty station.  So we found ourselves with a sick child in a new city CAM00167with no friends or family celebrating Thanksgiving and just being grateful that our children were alive and we were together.

And so at this time of year when we are being grateful for our blessings, I think back to that scary time and to the lessons I was reminded of during it…

I am thankful for my faith.  Riding in the ambulance with lights flashing, Mia looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not scared.  I know that God is with me.”  And she was right.  As our minds started to fill with panic our hearts were filled with faith.  God doesn’t make us sick and He doesn’t necessarily heal our body, what God does is walk beside us, loving us, giving us strength and preparing us for the way ahead no matter what it might be.

Our brave patient with her best buddy

Our brave patient with her best buddy

And I am thankful for the love with in our family.  Zoe would not leave Mia’s side.  When they wheeled Mia up to her room, Zoe rode next to her hugging her.  She laid in her bed, played with her, brought her food, and cried when Mia screamed in pain.  She was everything a sister could be.  I am proud of both of my daughters.  And I am proud of the family we have created and the love we all share for each other.

I am thankful for our friends and family, for all those who love me and love my children and love my husband.  People may be far away at times but our lives are filled with loved ones who will pray for us during our sorrows and celebrate with us during our times of joy.

And I am thankful for the generosity shown to us by both friends and strangers.  That Thanksgiving one of the doctor’s arrived with his family and a Thanksgiving dinner for us.  It was an act of such pure kindness I still tear up thinking of it.  But I am grateful not just for grand gestures like that, but for every time a stranger held the door open for us, gave my family a smile, picked up a dropped cup.  People are kind and we need to remember that.

I am thankful that my daughter is healthy again, yes.  But I am also thankful that our family survived the challenge and that we have learned and loved through it.  It has been a reminder to me of all that we should truly be thankful for–faith, love, friendship, and kindness.

More Pumpkin Activities

Time got away from me with the new little one but I still wanted to share our language arts activities from our pumpkin unit.  I also include some of our sensory activities at the end (besides the pumpkin playdough in my science and math pumpkin post).

Word Family Pumpkins

Pumpkin word families

I had my husband make this fun puzzle game to play around with word families.  They match the pumpkin pieces together to create a word family pumpkin.  The girls had a great time matching up the word families and seeing how they made a pumpkin.

The bottom piece is printed on white paper and then the top pumpkin pieces were printed on orange paper.

The bottom piece is printed on white paper and then the top pumpkin pieces were printed on orange paper.

The pieces can be a puzzle to reuse over and over or it can be a cut and paste activity to produce a finished product.

fall word family activity

Our finished pumpkins

Download Pumpkin Word Family Printables

Sight Word Collages

This was a great way to work with our sight words.  We cut the words out of magazines and then in keeping with our theme glued them to these cute little pumpkins for our growing pumpkin patch.

DSCN0571[1]
fall sight word activity

Pumpkin Popsicle Words

This is a great way to practice our vocabulary words.  The vowel is written on the pumpkin and then the girls can slide the popsicle sticks through to create new words making it an interactive way to get through their reading lists.

Pumpkin sliding stick reading

Pumpkin Letter Bingo

Have I mentioned before that my kids love letter bingo?  I make a letter sound and they find the letter on their bingo sheets.  Really they love the the game because it ends in eating lots of M&Ms but I like that it’s a great phonics review.

Pumpkin Letter Bingo

DSCN0846

Candy Corn Letter Game

My girls really enjoyed this cute candy corn letter game from Kindergarten Smiles.  It was a great review of letter recognition and sounds.

Candy Corn Letter Game

Just click on the picture below to access the game which is available for free through Teachers Pay Teachers.

original-158834-1

Sensory Activities

Pumpkin Cloud Dough

My girls love cloud dough!  Who am I kidding?  So do I!  It’s super easy to make just add flour and vegetable oil (enough to make it damp and moldable).  I just added pumpkin spice and orange powdered tempera paint to make it pumpkin flavored.

Pumpkin Cloud Dough

We often use activities like this while I work one on one with the girls.

Fall Fizzing Bath Bombs

Thanks to Fun at Home With Kids we were able to make these fun fizzing bath bombs.  We will definitely be doing this again in different shapes and scents!  The cinnamon is good to fight germs but it does make your tub rather cinnamon-y so you probably won’t be washing hair in the tub that night.  You get get the recipe here.

Pumpkin fizzing bath bombs

 

 

And finally since we are talking about pumpkins I just need to include my pumpkin baby picture.  I just love this little guy!

Pumpkin baby

 

 

Turkey Tiara

I love our Thanksgiving tiaras!  These were actually inspired by Fancy Nancy Our Thanksgiving Banquet.  (We love Fancy Nancy in our house!)  They are festive and fun and pretty easy to make.

Supplies: headband, felt–brown, mustard, and red (for the red use the stiff, sparkly felt), googly eyes, red feathers, ribbon

To assembly the pieces you want to start with the face.  Layer the two circles together and then add the red felt wing bits.  For the red piece, I used the stiff, sparkly felt to give the piece a firmer structure and a little more pizzazz.

Once all the felt parts are together you want to glue it onto the headband.  I attached it a little at the side because you don’t want it right on top of the head.  And then add the real feathers.  If it’s already on the headband it is easier to be sure pieces aren’t poking into the head.

For the headband piece I covered mine in ivory ribbon.  We had cheap colored ones and this made it look nicer and match the girls’ outfit.  You could just as easily by a nicer headband with which to start.

Don’t like the showgirl look?  You don’t have to make it with the feathers and the sparkles.  Last year I forgot ours at home when we traveled to California so we had to make a quick detour by Walmart and borrow my grandma’s glue gun.  I just used dark brown felt instead of the bright red and no fluffy feathers.

 

Turkeys, Turkeys Everywhere

We have made a few different turkeys this season.  They were fun and cute and a lot are easy enough that you could even do them on Turkey Day to keep the little ones occupied while you are cooking or the grown ups are visiting.

Coffee Filter Turkeys

I think that these turkeys came out so cute.  It was a different take on the coffee filter flowers using liquid water color.  We also used scented pine cones to spice up the place.

Supplies: coffee filters, liquid water color, pippettes or eye droppers, pine cones, googly eyes (if you want),  construction paper or another item for the head (pom pom, small pine cone, etc.)

Using our sensory table so it didn’t make too big a mess, I gave the girls little cups of the water colors and plastic pippettes to drop the paint onto the coffee filters.  If you haven’t made the flowers before it makes a tie-dye type design once it dries.  You could also just color the filters with markers and then spray them with water to create a similar effect.  We went with the droppers and water color to make what the girls called “a science craft.”

We then crumbled the filters up into flower shapes and glued them onto the base of the pine cone to make the puffy tail feathers.  Older children could do the folding and stuffing themselves and probably wouldn’t even need to glue in the “feathers.” Since I have little ones that like to play with their crafts, I did the stuffing and hot glued in the pieces.

Then we added the head pieces.  I have included the image of the template I used so you could just download that and size it to your needs if you don’t want to draw your own, but really it’s pretty easy to freehand.  You could also do something different for the head such as use a pom pom or a small pine cone piece.  We didn’t have any natural pieces to use and the pom pom balls I had just didn’t look right with the color of our tail so we went for a paper head.  And the girls chose the googly eyes because “everything is better with googly eyes.”

Spray Paint Turkeys

These make great wall hangings to decorate the house for the big day.  And the graffiti style makes this good for a wide variety of ages.  Little ones can work on their hand muscles spraying the paint and older ones can play with the spray functions to create different designs.

Supplies: liquid water color, spray bottles, paper, tape

We used the liquid water color for these turkeys as well.  I drew the turkey feather piece on thick paper (we just use a roll from Michaels) and then cut out multiple copies.  I taped up all the feathers on our wall in the backyard.

Then I gave the girls spray bottles filled with liquid water colors–one bottle per color.  The girls had a great time spraying down the feather pieces.

After they dried we glued on the turkey pieces.  I cut out beaks and waddles ahead of time for the girls to add along with googly eyes.

Fancy Turkeys

I love crafts like these where we just put out a bunch of different supplies and the girls go wild. It really is just a turkey and whatever craft supplies you have on hand.  The girls had the idea to turn these decorations into puppets and added the craft stick handles.

Supplies: Cardstock, glue, markers, sequins, feathers, glitter, tissue paper, 

I used the cricut to cut out the turkeys out of cardstock (Cricut Lite, Celebrate with Flourish) but you could just as trace their hands or use a template online (there are tons of them).  We didn’t do the traditional hand turkeys for this one since the girls’ hands are still so little (there would be very little space to decorate).

 Placemats

Who hasn’t made a woven paper placemat for Thanksgiving?  This went great with our practicing patterns.  In addition to the placemat, we’ve done our pattern file folder game and made bead necklaces.  But really I included this in the post because I think it’s easy to think that projects need to be super creative, complicated, and unique but all those projects you loved as a child are new and fun to your little ones.  So don’t forget about them!  Make a hand turkey.  Weave a placemat.  Have fun!

 

Tree of Thanksgiving

Here is our Tree of Thanksgiving we made.  As a family we wrote things we are thankful for on each leaf and hung them on the tree.  It is now sitting in the middle of our kitchen table and when we say grace we read the leaves and thank God for all of our blessings.  This is a project I loved from beginning to end.  Obviously the part I love best is giving thanks, but on a crafty note, I also really like how our tree came out.

Supplies: posterboard (for the tree), paint, cardstock (for the leaves), construction paper (to make template), ribbon or raffia, hot glue, scissors, hole punch, marker

 

To make the tree you first want to draw out a stencil of the basic tree design.  You want to have a bit of a dip in the center piece. (Don’t be thrown off by all the orange paper.  The stencil and the tree really are different pieces; we just have a ton of orange paper).

Use your stencil to make two copies of the tree on posterboard or foamboard, depending on what you prefer.  I used orange posterboard since that’s what we had on hand and I thought it would work well painting it brown.  You could certainly skip the painting step and just go with brown board.  Different colors will give you different looks.

You need to make a cut in the top of one and the bottom of the other.  And you will want the cuts to match up.  I just went to the halfway point on each.  It might have worked between if I cut only down 1/3 from the top on one and up 2/3 from the bottom on the other.

I then reinforced the pieces with hot glue so the cuts weren’t quite as important.  You just need the pieces to fit together evenly so that it will stand up.

Cut additional branches as necessary.  I added four branches, one for each middle space.

Then hot glue the additional branches in.

Paint the tree.  You just need to be careful because if it gets too wet the whole thing can fall apart.  We just painted it lightly and quickly.  Just know that as you paint the branch pieces might start to curl.  I just made sure to quickly paint the other side.  Then I used a hair dryer to help it dry a little before propping it up.  You could certainly skip the painting step.  However, I kind of liked how it made the branches curl up and change shape a little.  It also kept all the branches from all being lined up straight.

For the leaves I used my cricut to cut them out of cardstock.  You could also just as easily draw your own or search a stencil online.  And then I used raffia for the ribbon hangers.

Then we just hung the leaves on the tree, reading each as we went along.  Like I said before we keep it in the middle of the table and refer to it when we say grace.

%d bloggers like this: