November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted to create history lessons around each holiday this year.  In addition to this, I want to do general activities to celebrate each season.  However, I still feel the need to keep things extremely simple with my boys.  At ages 5 & 2, they just aren’t ready for big projects or crafts.  When I do initiate crafts, it’s usually me doing most of the crafting, or the boys take over by making it a cutting-up-paper-into-tiny-bits session.  Whether it’s their ages or that they are boys, long sit-down lessons and activities don’t work for us.  (And this also goes for just the five-year-old when the two-year-old is napping too.)

So here are the simple things we did this November to celebrate autumn and Thanksgiving:

  • We had a gorgeous autumn in Georgia this year, so I wanted to celebrate those beautiful leaves.  We collected leaves and laminated them.  Last year I tried ironing them between parchment paper, and it looked awful.  I asked my sister – a first grade teacher – what she recommended.  She said she just laminated the leaves.  Guess what?  It works great!  After laminating them, I strung some up over our window and the doorway into our activity room.  I tacked the others up to our bulletin board, and I labeled the leaves that I knew.  (Tree identification will come when they’re older too.)  (This it the laminator I purchased over a year ago – a worthwhile investment.)
  • We planted bulbs.  And garlic.  I’ve never planted garlic before, so I’m excited to see what will happen.  Planting seeds is a favorite pastime of my five-year-old, which I have written about extensively in this post.
  • We read our Thanksgiving books:
    • What Is Thanksgiving? by Harriet Ziefert – A sweet, lift-the-flap book about a mouse who asks his parents “What is Thanksgiving?”  It’s very simple and dedicates only two lines to the history of the holiday.  It’s mostly about what we do now to celebrate Thanksgiving. I would only recommend it for very young children.
    • The Story of the Pilgrims by Katherine Ross – I highly recommend this book for the approximate ages 4~6 or anyone needing a beginning lesson on Thanksgiving history.  It starts in England and talks about a group of people call Pilgrims and why they left, their journey in the Mayflower, their first difficult winter, the encounter with the Indians and what the Indians taught them, and it ends with the big feast.  It’s simple enough for youngsters but full of interesting details.
  • As we talked about Thanksgiving and what we give thanks for, I used A Child’s Book of Animal Poems and Blessings (collected by Eliza Blanchard).  My boys love animals, so these poems and prayers were fun.  The illustrations are beautiful.  It teaches respect for animals, and it gave me a chance to talk about praying and poetry.  Needless to say, this isn’t a book I will use only for this season.
  • The night before Thanksgiving, I told my five-year-old a story about Jack and Piper and the big Thanksgiving feast they hosted in the forest.  All the forest animals were invited, and on this day, there was no bickering or squabbles.  One by one, each animal said what he was thankful for.
  • Besides these simple activities, I have spent as much time outdoors as the weather permitted.  We visited Ft. Yargo, the Botanical Garden, and spent lots of time in our own yard.

Maybe next year I’ll get around to baking, more crafts and more history lessons.  Or maybe we’ll just spend more time outside.

What’s your favorite activities for November?

3 thoughts on “November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children

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