For The Beauty of the Earth- Thanksgiving Countdown 2019

Here we go for another round of Thanksgiving prep!  Confession time- I’m not like a real adult, I have never made the Thanksgiving feast.  I take charge of one dish and one dish only.  Candied yams.  No one else really likes them, but they are my FAVORITE!  It was my Grandma’s thing and this year that’s extra special because this will be our first Thanksgiving without her.  Looking back, I think I’ve spent far more Thanksgivings in my life WITH her than without.  Between losing my Grandma earlier this year and some other trials we’ve faced this year I’m holding on to Thanksgiving and focusing on blessings to help give me a pick me up to get me through.

  1. Day of the Dead- I love learning about different cultures and teaching my kids about how other people celebrate.  I think it’s really important to help them understand and respect diversity.  Watch Coco!  Here’s some free and simple masks to color and cut out!  Then take some time to talk about your ancestors and why we are grateful for them.  Tell stories, maybe make some foods that they liked (I’ll hold off on the candied yams until it’s actually Thanksgiving, but might have to make some Root Beer floats in honor of my other Grandma- and yes I did say with her Southern Utah accent!)
  2. Find a pumpkin patch/ corn maze or farmer’s market.  In Arizona I really like Tolmachoff Farms for the North Phoenix area, and Schnepf Farms for the opposite side of the Valley.  Talk about where our food comes from and how grateful we are to farmers who grow food for us.  Have fun and buy some farm fresh items!
  3. We are grateful for the Pilgrims who came to America for Religious Freedom.  Attend church.
  4. Teach more about the pilgrims.  Make some pilgrim hats and either make a Mayflower boat or just sail a toy boat around in the bath tub, sink, or water table.  Perk for living in AZ- it’s still warm enough to use an outdoor water table in November (downside- we had to get through summer to get to this point!)
  5. We are thankful for the sunshine!  Get outside and get some sun.  We’ll be going to play at the park!
  6. We are thankful for animals- zoo trip
  7. We are thankful for our home- do some extra chores to show respect to your home
  8.  Hand Turkeys
  9.  We are thankful for our potential to change and grow- We’ve got tickets to Butterfly Wonderland, so we’ll be heading there, but you could also just talk about and read books about butterflies and talk about how we can make changes and grow into spectacular things
  10.  We are thankful for Jesus Christ- discuss the Sacrament or Communion before, during, and after church
  11.  We are thankful for veterans- Color pictures/ write notes for Operation Gratitude
  12.  Beautiful World action poem
  13.  We are grateful for Daddy’s job- visit daddy at work for lunch
  14.  We are thankful for our food- share with others by donating to a food drive or provide a meal through Gathering Humanity
  15.  We are thankful for the temple- walk around the temple
  16.  We are thankful for cousins- color pictures to mail
  17.  We are thankful for friends- make a treat to take to a friend
  18.  We are thankful for our access to food- color pictures for the cashier
  19.  We are thankful for school- color pictures for teachers
  20.  We are thankful for our minds and our imagination- Children’s museum
  21. We can show our gratitude for the earth by picking up trash- go for a walk and find some trash to pick up
  22.  We are thankful for those who keep us safe- drop off treats to the police or firefighters (or both!)
  23.  We are thankful for Primary/Nursery- color pictures for teachers
  24.  Thankful tree
  25.  We are thankful for our bodies- go for a walk
  26.  We are thankful for Grandparents- color pictures for them
  27.  We are grateful for our toys- clean them up and choose a few to donate to a charity (get things cleared out and ready for Christmas!)
  28.  Thanksgiving feast!  Try to let the kids help make something
  29.  Visit Native American ruins- explain how the Native Americans assisted the Pilgrims

 

 

Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

Christ-Centered Easter Activity Countdown- 2019

Time to get inspired for Easter!  With Easter being April 21 we will start our countdown on Friday March 29th.  A lot of these will be repeats from last year but I’m also going to incorporate some of this year’s activity from the Friend Magazine.  They don’t start until Palm Sunday so I won’t be going along day by day because I like to give Easter as much attention and preparation as we give Christmas.  I hope this helps you as you make your Easter preparations more intentional.

  1. Friend The Miracle of Easter (Day 2) “When Jesus was a boy, He lived with Mary and Joseph in a city called Nazareth. He always did what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.”  Date with Dad- It’s our ward’s Father/Son camp out but you could substitute any activity with Dad!
  2. Friend (Day 3) “When Jesus grew up, He went to the Jordan River. He asked His cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize Him. Then He began to teach others about Heavenly Father.”  We will have cousins in town so we’re going to party with cousins, but you could also attend a baptism if possible.
  3. Jesus is the Light of the world.  Use trick candles on cupcakes, as the kids blow them out and they re-light explain that even though they tried to put out Jesus’ light, his light did not go away.  (Got this from The Joy Journey, scroll down, it’s one of the last activities, this is also a great resource for ideas!)
  4. Jesus created the World for us- visit a zoo or aquarium to see some of His creations.
  5. 2018 Friend activity #3– “Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus felt pain and was terribly thirsty. He understands whenever you feel sick or tired or hurt. Jesus wants us to help others who are ill or tired. What can you do to help someone in your family who isn’t feeling well or is very tired?”  Serve someone who has been ill (take a meal, make a card, take treats to the hospital, etc.)
  6. Read the Easter Story from this month’s Friend Jr.
  7. He is Risen cut and paste, there’s also a tracing one
  8. Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey- go to a petting zoo with a donkey
  9. Resurrection Eggs for toddlers
  10. Jesus continued His church by calling a Prophet.  Read about President Nelson in the Friend and watch General Conference.
  11. Friend Jr. Life of Jesus Christ Sequencing activity.  I will put each picture in an egg and make it an egg hunt and then sequence and talk about each part of Christ’s life.
  12. 2018 Friend activity #5– “Jesus said, “Behold thy mother!”  Before he died, Jesus asked one of His disciples to take care of Mary, His mother.” Mom date!  Our ward will be having a mother/daughter activity this evening but again, this could be any fun activity with mom.
  13. Jesus prayed in a garden and after his Resurrection he visited Mary in a garden- visit the Botanical Garden (they have butterflies this time of year!!!)
  14. Jesus was the Lamb of God, make a lamb craft
  15. Easter Movie Night, we will probably watch To This End Was I Born, and one of the VeggieTales Easter shows.
  16. Friend (Day 1)- “Our Heavenly Parents love us dearly. They want us to live with Them forever. Before we came to earth, Heavenly Father knew we would need someone to show us the path back to Him. We would need someone to save us from our sins. Who could He send to save us?”  Talk about our Heavenly Family, and Jesus as our older brother.  Explain that because they love us they gave us our Earthly Families as well.  Extended family Easter Egg hunt.
  17. Friend (Day 5)- “Some people were angry with Jesus because of His teachings. They didn’t believe that He was the Son of God. Jesus knew it was almost time for the greatest miracle of all. Jesus gave His disciples the sacrament to help them remember His sacrifice for us. Then He went with some of the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He prayed to Heavenly Father, and He felt the pain of all of our sins. He did this so we could repent and return to live with our Heavenly Parents.”  Take the sacrament at church.
  18. Friend (Day 6)- “After Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, people came with swords to arrest Him. They took Him to Pilate, the governor of Judea. Then they took Him to a cross on a hill called Calvary.”  Make palm frond crosses- my little brother will grab some extra palm fronds for us from the Palm Sunday service at the Episcopal church he attends.  Here’s a simple tutorial.
  19. Friend (Day 4)- “Wherever He went, Jesus taught and helped people. No one had ever seen anyone do miracles like He did! He healed people who couldn’t walk and people who couldn’t see. He blessed children and taught people how to pray. He even brought a girl who had died back to life. What greater miracles could there be than these?”  Do a service project to be a miracle for someone else.
  20. Easter Sequencing Activity– this one focuses just on Christ’s death and Resurrection- the other one I’m using covers His whole life.
  21. Show a picture of Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet, then wash each others’ feet in a foot spa or just in the tub.
  22. Make an “Easter Garden” in a pot with some little plants, a rock for the tomb, etc.  Mine will be much simpler than the one in the link, but it gives a good idea for reference.
  23. Make Resurrection Rolls, and tell the Easter story as you do it
  24. Friend (Day 8)- “Jesus really did live after He had died, and so will we! He visited with His disciples for 40 days. He ate with them and talked with them. What a joyful time it was! Then He asked His disciples to meet Him on a mountain. He told them what they should do after He went to heaven. And He gave them a promise that He would always be with them. This wonderful promise is for us too!”  Use a glove and your hand to explain the Resurrection.  I explain how I do this in my Family Home Evening post for this month.

Thanksgiving “Advent” Activities

Last year as the holiday season was approaching I felt strongly that I wanted to do a Christ-centered advent activity calendar for my then 2 year old.  As I was collecting ideas…in October…don’t judge I was sick and had a lot of time to scroll Pinterest…I realized, why not do the same for Thanksgiving.

Fun fact- Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday.  It’s like the underdog of the Holiday season, and I feel like it needs way more attention than it gets.  When trying to shop for Thanksgiving related items towards then end of October there’s like 5 double sided aisles dedicated to Halloween, there’s already several dedicated to Christmas, but Thanksgiving gets this tiny little display that takes up part of one side of an aisle.

I mean what gives!  We go from dressing up and asking for candy straight to asking for gifts and forget to be grateful in between.

So in an attempt to give Thanksgiving it’s due attention, and to help teach my son about gratitude, “circles” were created.

Pinterest has tons of ideas for super cute and creative ways to make advent calendars.  As mentioned in previous posts, I like to follow the KISS method- Keep it Simple Stephanie (or stupid, or smarty, whatever is appropriate for the given day).  I went to the dollar store and bought muffin tins, so $4 total right there.  Then I cut circles out of construction paper and put a slip of paper and a piece of candy in each of the sections and use double sided tape to attach the colored circles over the tins.  It’s pretty simple, keeps me organized, and my son LOVES the candy…and the activities, but the candy definitely helps keep the motivation.

For my list of ideas I scrolled through Pinterest for inspiration but couldn’t find any specific posts that fit us exactly so a lot of things I came up with on my own.  I’m not super crafty and I hate messes so I don’t pick a lot of the craft ideas, when I talk about coloring pictures for people, I happened upon a pack of cute Thanksgiving coloring pages last year at Goodwill, so sorry, no link for those, but if you are reading this blog then chances are you may have been introduced to this thing called the internet which contains Google and Pinterest, between the two of those you can pretty much find anything your little heart could desire.  Now if you are one of those crafty sorts of people and you don’t mind chasing feathers around your house, then you could definitely incorporate some pretty cute crafts into these ideas to give away to people.

Another thing to keep in mind with this list is that my kids are currently 3 and 1 so this is very much targeted towards that age group, mostly the 3 year old.  I also try to incorporate activities we already do but find a way to make them focused on the holiday.  So when you see things on the list like, going to church or tee ball, and you think, “wait, that’s cheating!”  Not cheating- simple, smart, resourceful.

Thanksgiving Activities:

  1. Heavenly Father led the Pilgrims to America so they could go to church how and where they wanted.  Make a Pilgrim Hat.
  2. Pilgrims came on a boat called the Mayflower.  Float boats in water (I have a little bin I use for water play on the back porch, or you could do this in the bathtub or sink).
  3. We show gratitude by serving.  We will be visiting an older lady from church who recently had surgery.
  4. We are grateful for our bodies.  Go to tee ball with Daddy.
  5. We are grateful for Grandparents.  Color pictures for Grandparents.
  6. We are grateful for nature.  Go for a walk, pick up trash if we see any.
  7. Family Home Evening- begin Thankful tree (we will add to this each week for FHE).  I bought a Thankful Tree from Target, but there are also a lot of cute ideas on Pinterest for making your own.
  8. We are grateful for Nursery.  Color a picture for Nursery leaders.
  9. We are grateful for books.  Go to story time at the library.
  10. We are grateful for animals.  Go to the zoo.
  11. We are grateful for the temple.  Visit the temple grounds.
  12. We show gratitude to Heavenly Father by going to church.
  13. We are grateful for cousins.  Color pictures and mail to cousins.
  14. Continue Thankful Tree.
  15. We show gratitude for our food by sharing.  Donate food (either to a food drive or make a meal for someone who is sick or a refugee)
  16. We are grateful for friends.  Make a treat for a friend.
  17. We are grateful for our minds and imagination.  Go to the Children’s Museum.
  18. We are grateful for Preschool.  Color a picture for teacher.
  19. Learn Thanksgiving songs and hymns.
  20. We are grateful for our food.  Color a picture for the grocery store cashier.
  21. Continue Thankful tree.
  22. We show gratitude for toys by cleaning them up and sharing.  Clean up and clear out play room (also helps get ready for Christmas gifts coming in and toys to donate to toy drives).
  23. Thanksgiving feast!
  24. Talk about first Thanksgiving, watch video, and visit Indian Ruins.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope this list helps you get some ideas going on how to teach your children about gratitude and give Thanksgiving the hype and attention in deserves!

I’ll post my Christmas ideas as well as we get a little closer.