I know–it’s time to shift gears. Everybody else has basically moved on to Christmas stuff and I’m still talking about Halloween. Well, I’m not moving on to Christmas stuff yet (you can’t make me), but I’m perfectly willing to move on to Thanksgiving. Because you’re planning a homeschool here, and you need to be able to plan ahead. I get it.
So you’re looking for cool stuff to do with your littles for Thanksgiving, stuff that will make the holiday memorable and fun for them. Well, I’ve got the goods.
Did you doubt me?
Thanksgiving is all about being grateful.
It gives us an opportunity to add books onto our littles’ list that will remind them to have gratitude when appropriate. There are some fantastic books that do just that out there. I looked at my favorites and picked the ones with the sweetest stories and the best illustrations to tell you about.
This not your average alphabet book. Each page uses a letter for a short verse about the history of Thanksgiving for everything from Sarah Hale (about whom the next book is entirely) to the first Thanksgiving to the Pilgrim crossing. There is also a sidebar that gives littles more information about the verse. It’s like an alphabet book and an encyclopedia all in one. Win!
Ever wondered how Thanksgiving became a national holiday? Believe it or not, it wasn’t until Lincoln was president. This book tells the story of Sarah Hale, an editor who spent 35 years writing petitions and speaking publicly about Thanksgiving until she finally convinced President Lincoln to sign a proclamation making it an official national holiday. No, really, Thank you, Sarah, because yum!
I love the busy pictures and how the whole family pitches to help with Thanksgiving preparations. This family reminds me of Thanksgivings at my maternal grandmother’s house long ago. My mom has 8 siblings, so yeah, there were lots of arrivals and over 30 cousins. And you wonder why we celebrate Thanksgiving at home with just us now…
Sweet, simple, and easy for all ages to understand, this book tells the story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans and how the first Thanksgiving came about. And it’s pretty historically accurate for all its simplicity.
Can chicken pox ruin Thanksgiving? Not for this family. Thanks to some friendly snow plow drivers, Thanksgiving dinner is a success even though Charity woke up on the morning of her favorite holiday with the dreaded bumps. This one is older–heck, they call Nana on the car phone–but it’s cute and funny and sweet and all the things you want in a Thanksgiving book.
Mrs. Moose wants a turkey at her Thanksgiving dinner, so Mr. Moose sets out to find her one. Problem? The turkey thinks he’s on the menu, so he skeedaddles. Imagine his relief when he finds out he’s a guest, not the main course. I like this one because it doesn’t terrify your kiddos out of eating turkey on Turkey Day, if that’s what you’re into. (Hey, some picture books do.)
So. Freaking. Cute. Silly Tilly is a mole who forgot to remember that winter was coming. Worse, she forgot to remember Thanksgiving. And she sends out recipe cards instead of invitations to Thanksgiving dinner. And then she forgets to cook. Thank goodness all her friends show up with dishes and save the day! Yeah. Cute.
The traditional Thanksgiving poem set to gorgeous, warm illustrations. There are several picture books based on the poem out there, but Tavares’ illustrations are my favorite. Good stuff.
This one is a short chapter book, but it’s so relevant. Squanto’s story isn’t all pumpkin pie and ice cream, and it’s important to teach your littles the truth about his life. It’s a good starting place for discussions about prejudice. We read this one when we were studying Colonial America and my boys were shocked at how different reality was than what they were taught in their few years at public school.
I saved the best for last. This is probably my very favorite-ist Thanksgiving picture book. Grandmother distrusts her neighbor, Mr. Whiskers. She fears he is after her famous and super-secret cranberry bread recipe. But every year she lets her granddaughter, Maggie, invite a lonely or poor person to Thanksgiving dinner, and this year Maggie invites Mr. Whiskers. Grandmother is not happy about it, but she’s pleased with the person she invited herself. When the secret recipe gets stolen, everybody learns why it is wrong to judge people based on appearance and what kindness can do for the world, especially during the hectic holidays. I crush hard on the message, but I crush just as hard on the cozy pictures and text that brings Thanksgiving alive. Come back by on Monday, and I’ll give you a delectable Story Time for it.
Want to do something to remember this Thanksgiving always?
Make a Thankful Tree. A Thankful Tree is a great way to get your family thinking about the gratitude they have and it’s fun to look back at them and remember what everyone was thankful for year by year.
What you need:
- Lit Mama’s Leaf template
- Lit Mama’s Thankful Prompts
- Card stock or construction paper in autumn colors
- A large piece of card stock or poster board (heck, one year I made my tree on freezer paper)
- A jar
- A basket
- Glue stick
What you do:
- Draw the skeleton of a tree on your large card stock or poster board
- Cut it out and hang it on the wall
- Use the leaf templates to create autumn-colored leaves for your family to write on or print them out on card stock
- Cut them out and place them in the basket
- Print out the prompts (or make some of your own)
- Cut them out and fold them then place them in the jar
- Put the marker and glue stick in the basket with the leaves and set it and the jar under the tree
- Throughout the day, have your family pick a prompt from the jar, then write on a leaf what the prompt reminded them they are thankful for
- Stick the leaves to the tree as they get filled out
If you want some Thanksgiving printables to go with your picture books, make sure to check out my subscriber freebies.
Don’t forget to enter to win a free copy of Chloe’s Little Secret!
Read all about this cute picture book here.
Winner will be announced on November 8.
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