Monthly Archives: November 2014

old fashioned thanksgiving unit study

~An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving~

      Thanksgiving Unit Study

Stories to read aloud together, recipes, games to play, crafts, history, family devotional ideas, and lots more fun!

*Thanksgiving Reading:

* “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving”  by Louisa May Alcott
(google reader, book format)
Read/print it out  here
Listen to “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Audiobook (free)

*Watch the Hallmark movie version of “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” online
Continue reading ~An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving~

Christmas Traditions for Families

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!”
~Albert Einstein

Family traditions for the holidays vary as greatly as the families who keep them.

Whether you celebrate with a fantastic home-cooked feast, or Chinese Take-Out;
spend a quiet day at home, or spend it packed with extended family and friends,
and friends of friends;  whether you are starting a new tradition in your family or keeping a long beloved one…
keeping holiday traditions is part of the fabric that makes up a family.

Traditions become something our families count on.

Another thing we can count on in life is change…

Have you just moved and can’t find your Christmas tree among the chaos ?
Feeling lonely because family is far away?
Maybe financial stress is sucking all the joy out of your usual holiday celebrations?
Spending the holidays in a country where food and customs are quite different?
Maybe, for whatever circumstance, you aren’t able to keep your most treasured traditions?

Don’t despair !

Don’t let circumstances rob you of the joy and roots of the holiday!
Get creative !
Make up some new traditions.
Keep them simple.
You might just be surprised how much you’ll love them!

Our Story…

We’ve spent Christmas in some different places and seasons of life.
But soon after (another) move far away from all our family, and before we had really met anyone in our new town, a very quiet Christmas kind of surprised us.
It was just us.
Our family traditions always included a wonderful Christmas dinner and a house bursting with friends and family.  This year the house was glaringly quiet as we debated what to do.  Sitting in our PJ’s watching TV (honestly in the middle of quite the holiday pity party), we laughingly came up with an idea.

Chinese food !

Yep.  Could have been inspired by the 24-hour  A Christmas Story marathon.  🙂
So we got out of our pjs, off the couch, and to the closest Chinese restaurant.
Truthfully, it felt kind of sad and pathetic at first to be spending Christmas in a restaurant with no friends of family….but we laughed and we told funny family stories that nobody else would’ve gotten, and we ate together, and every single one of us really enjoyed the night.

It was DIFFERENT.   It was SIMPLE.  But it was GOOD.

Five years later, and five Christmas Eve Chinese dinners later, this has become one of my children’s absolute favorite traditions.

So, whether you’re looking for some new traditions to add to your own celebrations,
or you’ve found yourself in need of a few creative ideas for making some new ones, here’s some of my favorite ideas to get you started.

*Start the month of December with some type of Christmas Countdown-

Keep it simple !  Remember if it becomes a tradition you’ll be doing it again
in the years to come  🙂


* Paper Chain Countdown

+with a Bible verse written on each chain to read at breakfast
+your favorite things about each person in your family  (make them together
then mix them up so it is a surprise to see which person is affirmed each day)
+mark each day (chain) by giving one thing away to someone else each day
+a nightly Christmas activity to do together… could be as simple as reading a
Christmas book, having a cup of cocoa with a candy cane, or making a
themed snack and watching a Christmas movie.

*Christmas Lights Drive

I started this one year when my kids were all very young.  Pre-kids, my husband and I had enjoyed taking a drive through a neighboring town that had tons of beautiful victorian homes that were always decorated to the hilt for Christmas.  We kind of neglected that tradition for awhile once we started having kids.  So one year, after the kids were already in pjs and in bed, I surprised them all by sticking them in the car…Christmas music playing, hot cocoa in sippy cups, and christmas cookies too!   And the tradition was revived !  Every year they waited, never knowing which night we would get them out of bed for the Christmas Light Drive!

* Serving Others from Melinda Todd
Reading Stories aloud by candle light from Contented at Home
(read them on a kindle, laptop, etc…all FREE)
* Turkey Ticket Traditions from Lets Get Together
Thanksgiving Games from A Pinch of Joy   
* Fun Family Holiday Traditions from Crazy Little Projects
* Start a New Tradition from A View Along the Way
* Build a Gingerbread House Village from HOUSEography


~Thankfulness:  The Real Things Haven’t Changed~
   Words For Wednesdays

Little House on the Prairie

“The real things haven’t changed.
It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have;
to be happy with simple pleasures;
and have courage when things go wrong.”

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have been working on a unit study about life in Frontier America.
I am amazed by the pioneer’s courage and their simple faith.
Thankfulness…the real things haven’t changed.
Their gratitude for the smallest graces
is something we can all reflect on

and aspire to.
What simple pleasures are you thankful for today?
My quick list:
~Hot Coffee
~The smell of baking bread
~Salty, roasted pumpkin seeds
~The change in seasons today

Thanksgiving activities for families

~Gratitude Builders ~
 (For Kids of All Ages)

Gratitude builders (for kids of all ages)…it’s what is on my mind this week.
That, and truth be told, I’m thinking about those sweet faces in the picture above,
and all the friends I am missing from the time we lived in Peru.
I know I need to turn the melancholy feeling toward gratitude & I’m hoping
in digging out some fun ideas to share this week, I’ll do just that!

‘Tis the season to reflect on all we have to be thankful for in these wonderful lives of ours !
‘Tis the season for gathering together with friends and family.
‘Tis the season to cram as much wonderful life as possible into every corner of every day.

I’m not sure about you,  but these very lovely feelings of gratitude and family warmth
can quickly turn into a jumble of endless evenings of events to attend, toddler tantrums,
serious shopping stress,  a big brother blowup, and then one major mommy meltdown !

Don’t worry, I’m not even going to say this never happens to us!  lol

I know some of the other mommy bloggers have it going on.  Not me so much.

So, what helps our family regain our focus on thanks-giving and all the warm holiday fuzzies?

I’m a planner.
I make plans to make plans.
I’m not even joking.  Ask my poor family.
And because,  I’m prone to mommy meltdowns (and yelling at dogs <–read my story), I know we ALL can benefit from taking some quiet time as a family to appreciate these special days.

Just taking a moment to breathe, to be thoughtful, and to be thankful.

So, I’m making a plan.    For us all.

I’ve googled, and Pinterested, and pulled out old books.
I’m making a list of a few things to do, nothing strenuous or time intensive,
just a couple quick ideas to make some quiet family time actually happen.

I really hope that having it all written down in one place will make it easy for you to grab
some ideas of your own and find some of your own warm fuzzy time.
*Note:  There are a few items that I couldn’t find for free.  I’ve included a direct link to Amazon for those.  If you click through those links and buy anything on Amazon, I will receive a small commission on the sale !  So if you’d go through my site, I’d be super grateful! 😀
Thank you friends !

*Gratitude Builders For Kids of All Ages*

* Quiet Times:

– “Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving” from His Mercy Is New
   (Try reading & praying these simple verses together in the morning, or before bedtime)
–  Printable Family Gratitude Devotions from Frugal Fun For Boys
Simple Weekly Thanksgiving  Family Devotions from Ligonier Camp
The Attitude of Gratitude (Lapbook) from Homeschool Helper Online 

* Stories of Thanksgiving for Families:

–  “Thank You, God, for the Fleas!” adaptation from Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place
Audio Version  (Only about 3 minutes)
“Days to Remember”   from   Adventures In Odyssey

–  “The Children’s Book of Thanksgiving Stories”  from Project Gutenberg
( I love this resource !  Lots of short stories. Great for bed time, car time, anytime !)
“The Best Part of the Day”
“The Giving Tree”  

*”Watch” a short book, or a movie curled up together:

– “The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings”  book on YouTube
– “The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks”  book on YouTube
– “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”    (full episode)
or you can find it  HERE on  Amazon
“All Saints”   (I somehow had never seen this movie till just recently!  SO GOOD!)
“The Three Trees”   (YouTube- this story helps us to see past our circumstances
& give thanks in all things)
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
– Disney’s “Pollyanna”  <– movie
OR you can listen to the FREE audiobook  —>  “Pollyanna”

Family Thanksgiving Book

-“Write” your own story of Thanks-giving.

Perhaps you might like to make your own family’s special story of gratitude.  You could do it together as a daily activity during the month of November…or all year long!  You could each take time to write your own story, or read the idea our family does.

My Family’s Thanksgiving Story~
I started the Thanksgiving notebook when my children were very small.   Every year there are various questions written at the top of it’s pages…every person (including guests) on Thanksgiving Day (or sometime during that week) signs in beside a number on the first page and answers the questions throughout the book.  We have several books now that are filled with the sweetest thoughts, memories, and words of love & friendship.   There are some years of little kid scribbles, of some umm… ‘creative’ things the kids were thankful for, some touching memories of happy times, and even several years that the pages are mostly in Spanish as we celebrated with our beautiful Peruvian friends.
Every year I bring the old notebooks out to read and remember.  There are some lovely treasures in those books-  thoughts from my Grandma, who passed away at 95 last year, and other people we have been blessed to know and love along the way.
These books are a very precious part of our family’s story.

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*Family Gratitude Activities:

– Create a Simple Gratitude Garland from Life Lesson Plans
– Write a “We are Thankful for You” letter to someone as a family

– Try printing out these family talk Gratitude Table Topics from Growing Book by Book
Family Games… Ideas for Building Attitudes of Gratitude

“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Unit Study from Fields of Daisies (that’s me  🙂 )
– Some lovely Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Karla Dornacher
  (Because they’re my favorite everyday  🙂 )
Expressions of Gratitude Coloring Book  (this would be a great activity to do together
while listening to one of the audiobooks!)

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful;  it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 
― David Steindl-Rast

thanksgiving activities for families