Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Mayflower Tour

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

mayflower-tour

Last month my family flew to the east coast for a family reunion with my husband’s family, and one of our favorite activities was touring the Mayflower! The ship is a replica of the original ship, which went back to England and eventually deteriorated.

Mayflower Tour

Here is our tour of the ship:

My husband’s sister lives in Massachussetts, which is the area where the Pilgrims landed in the New World back in 1620. We hadn’t seen this side of our family in six years, so my kids were excited to see how much their cousins had grown. We had a wonderful time re-connecting.

plymouth-rock-sign

Plymouth Rock is still there, even though it has been chipped away by tourists for years, making it better called Plymouth Pebble. It’s a bit anti-climactic for present-day tourists, who look down on it from the cage or jail cell where it now resides near the beach where the Mayflower ship replica is harbored.

plymouth-rock

When we climbed aboard the Mayflower, we stepped back in time. The ship is actually quite small! Above deck, we walked around the ship, which is not very much exercise, since the entire ship from front to back is only about a dozen steps in total.

on-deck-mayflower

Below deck, it was easy to envision the cramped conditions of the 102 men, women, and children who were living down here for 66 days–over two months! I felt sorry for them, since their conditions didn’t improve that much when they arrived in the New World, only to die of starvation.

inside-mayflower

No wonder Thanksgiving Day really affects our hearts, to know that the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims to survive in this unknown land. We give thanks every year for all the many blessings we take for granted, which the Pilgrims had to mostly do without.

This was a really fun educational field trip for American history that I’d always wanted to do with my kids. It was worth doing, and I’m glad we got to do it with our extended family.

If you want more hands-on activities for this time period, check out our Pilgrims Unit Study!

Hands-on Thanksgiving Ideas

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Hands-on Thanksgiving Ideas

This year of all years, we have had unprecedented world problems, from the pandemic to the rioting to politics. If we focus only on the negative, then we are likely to become stressed out and even depressed. Instead, why not focus on the positive?

  • The relationships with family members that you have been able to build during this time.
  • The interior design projects you’ve done around your house because you have finally had time to get to things on your to-do list.
  • Gardening has also been really popular during this time, along with getting exercise, going for walks around the neighborhood.
  • I have had opportunities to pray with people and encourage them and see them draw closer to God.

Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we do have. Look around you and list all the people in your life that you are thankful for, and all the basic things like shelter, a bed, food, and water that we often take for granted. I grew up in the third world country of Guatemala, and I saw true poverty, houses with dirt floors where all they ate every day was beans and rice. And a lot of times, they seemed happier than Americans.

Hands-on Thanksgiving Ideas

In this workshop, I speak about how to be thankful during difficult times, and I describe many hands-on activities you can do with your kids to make this Thanksgiving meaningful:

Here are some activities that can help us focus on thankfulness:

1. Thankfulness tree: Get autumn colors of card stock paper and cut out leaf shapes. Place the card stock paper into your printer and print out maple leaf shapes that your kids can cut out. (There is a free template here.) On the back of each leaf, the kids (and the adults) can write what they are thankful for. You can hang them up on an indoor tree with Christmas ornament hooks, or you can attach them directly to a blank wall with sticky tack.

2. Thankful cards: Why not write thankful cards to each member of your family this year, and hand them out at the Thanksgiving table? You can tell each person what you enjoy about them and why you are thankful for having them in your life. These can be really meaningful.

3. Point out positive qualities about each person: Go around the room after Thanksgiving dinner, highlighting each person. Other people say good things that they appreciate about the highlighted person.

turkey-cake

There are lots of other activities that you can do for Thanksgiving that are whimsical, but they are meaningful because you are doing something fun with your kids, and that creates family bonding:

1. Turkey cake: Bake two cakes from a box, one rectangular one and one with two circles. One circle is the body of the turkey, and you can cut out the head of the turkey from the other circle cake, with a bowl. Make the feathers with the rectangle cake. Or if you prefer, you can use twinkies. Then tint frosting with autumn colors, and frost the cake. I kept a small amount of white frosting for the eyes, and put chocolate chips for the pupils of the eyes.

2. Live turkeys: Go look at some live turkeys, either at a farm or around your neighborhood. (You can even watch an educational video about this bird.) For several years now, we’ve had a whole family of turkeys parading down our street. I captured it on video:

3. Culinary arts: Teach your kids how to cook and bake while you prepare for your Thanksgiving dinner. After Thanksgiving, have the kids brainstorm new recipes for leftover turkey. One year we made little pies by using a muffin tin to place circles of pie dough filled with cherry pie filling, and criss-crossed strips across the top of each one to give them a lattice look.

This is also the perfect time to study the Pilgrims. For several years, we put up a Mayflower ship on our back deck using inexpensive PVC pipe and an old white sheet. The kids dressed up as Pilgrims, and we made candles and butter from scratch. We did a lot of other hands-on activities, which I show you in my Pilgrims Unit Study (that happens to be on sale right now for only $5).

I hope you have gleaned some ideas on how to make your Thanksgiving more meaningful. It really does make a difference when we focus on the good. May you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Make a Turkey Cake

Monday, November 6th, 2017

turkey-cake

Isn’t this a cute turkey cake? It’s perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends! You will need two cake boxes, chocolate icing, vanilla icing, and food coloring. You will also need a foil-lined piece of cardboard to place under the cake, and silk autumn leaves to decorate around the finished cake.

turkey-cake-unfrosted

First you will bake two circle cakes. The second cake will be rectangular. After baking and cooling the cakes, you will want to put cellophane on them and place them into the fridge. Cold cake is easier to cut and sculpt than room-temperature cake.

Up-end one circle cake onto the bottom of your foil-lined cardboard. You will want to frost this with chocolate frosting.

Then cut a smaller circle out of the other circle cake. I used a round dish that would be the right size for the head of the turkey. Frost the head with chocolate frosting, too.

From the rectangular cake, cut feathers in the shape of rectangles, while slightly rounding the edges of the tops of the feathers.

how-to-make-a-turkey-cake

Take out one tablespoon of white frosting and set aside for the eyes. Divide the remaining white frosting into three bowls: add yellow, orange, and red food coloring to the bowls. Stir the colors in, and frost the feathers of your turkey cake.

thanksgiving-cake

With a table knife, run the blade down the middle of each feather and out to the sides, adding texture like real feathers. Add a beak and white circles for eyes. You can use chocolate chips for the pupils of the eyes, or just use a glob of chocolate frosting.

Now your turkey cake is complete! Happy Thanksgiving!

Squash Creatures

Monday, November 11th, 2013

squash-creatures

Make some fun squash creatures with your kids instead of eating the squash. (Who actually wants to eat squash anyway, especially ornamental squash that looks like it’s been grown by aliens?)

Plug in your hot glue gun, take out your craft supplies, and decorate a squash to look like a creature. You can use google eyes, feathers, buttons, and bits of cloth. It takes less than 5 minutes to make this craft, so you can do this, even if you feel foggy and in need of sleep. As soon as you’ve made your squash creature, shout for your children to come running.

Listen to their squeals of joy as you show them your creature. Then let them get to work. One of my sons wanted the squash to have only one eye. Yes, since it’s all lumpy and looks like an alien anyway, why not go with it? You can turn the squash in any direction to make your creature.

I told my kids to use at least one feather, since I wanted to use these as Thanksgiving decorations, you know, to represent the Native American generosity to the Pilgrims. Enjoy your cute and easy-to-make squash creatures.