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I was not enthusiast about another Thanksgiving of overeating while sitting around watching football. This year, I decided that Thanksgiving itself should be a memorable event filled with family “traditions.” We don’t really have any family traditions pertaining to this holiday, so we went looking and oh, did we find ideas. The core of our holiday was based on a Pilgrim Unit study that I purchased from a link off of a facebook homeschool site. Apparently, this woman used the lesson plan once as a schooling unit and then the various projects and activities associated with the lesson plan in subsequent Thanksgiving celebrations.

Following her example, I ensured that my son would wake up to the arrival of the Mayflower. It was supposed to “arrive” in the backyard next to the tipi. However, it arrived behind the couch. Good enough.

Mayflower

Mayflower

Next, we tried our hand at baking. My son was very eager to help with the stirring and pouring of cranberry muffin mix.

Baking

Baking

We then invested time creating a Turkey centerpieces for the table.

Turkey Centerpiece

Turkey Centerpiece

I threw together a Thankfulness journal. I must admit that I put it together without my son because I want it to last for a few years. My son likely would have adorned the cover with his famous circles with legs that represent everyone from people to turkeys, suns and beyond.

Thanksgiving Journal

Thanksgiving Journal

While I was crafting away, my son got silly creating a turkey hat form himself and sketching a lopsided face on our sad little scarecrow.

Turkey Hat

Turkey Hat


Scarecrow Gets a Face

Scarecrow Gets a Face

Of course, we got in quite a bit of homeschooling. Well, virtually everything we did was homeschool-centric. We just put in a little more effort completing our Turkey, Pilgrim and Native American themed worksheets. Worksheets do not seem very-Waldorf. However, my son

Homeschool Break

Homeschool Break

After that much-needed break, we put together our Thankfulness Tree. My son wrote down various things for which he is thankful onto stickies-sized paper. He then hung his little slips on the tree.

Tree of Thanks

Tree of Thanks

After all these doings, it still was not time to eat, and my son still had his ya-yas to get out. So, we played a spirited game of marbles. Marbles is definitely not to my liking. However, the Pilgrim Study United cited marbles as a teaching tool to demonstrate what colonial children did for fun. By now, it is no surprise to my son that children during this era did not have televisions, computers and toys common by today’s standards. He continues to find this unimaginable but not surprising. However, he soon realized that he could enjoy the game just the same.

Marbles

Marbles

Finally, it was time to eat. We ate a modest turkey dinner using light from candles and little metal lanterns that we had created to evoke a colonial home.

Candlelight Dinner

Candlelight Dinner

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I grew up in the 70s reading boy-oriented books that my grandfather supplied me with. There were various books about topics like Electrical Engineering for kids. There were various other science books and encyclopedias. I also had hand-me down construction toys like real, metal erector sets with little wrenches. Those types of things left me cold. However, I LOVED this book called Indian Crafts and Lore. This was an educational book that introduced Native American culture to boy scout types using various craft and construction projects. I was recently reminded of this book and tracked it down at the local library. I then endeavored to build a tipi in the back yard to enforce certain lessons that we had discussed regarding the role Native Americans played during the first Thanksgiving.


Finally, I should point out where aesthetics lack, the life lesson was significant. My aim here was to teach my son that the comforts of modern life were not available to Native Americans and colonial settlers. My son had seen images of native and settler homes before and was bothered by the lack of bathrooms and other amenities. The life lesson is that people used to have to expend significant amounts of time and effort to achieve the most minimal of living standards. Watching me search around for, cut, drag and maneuvre wood into place was enough for him to get the hardships of olden times.

The Squirrel chaulkboard drawing was okay. However, I only had white chaulk. Consequently, the drawing simply didn’t have the oomph that I was going for. I decided to switch the drawing when I incorporated the new handmade leaves into the decor. I was at a loss. I wasn’t quite sure what sort of theme to work with. I only know that I wanted something that evoked the spirit of November. I ended up “borrowing” from a drawing I saw on another Waldorf. Not very original, but it looks great!

Scarecrow Chaulkboard

Scarecrow Chaulkboard

This past weekend, we went overboard in our big run-up to Thanksgiving. First, we made a charming leaf mobile. We found this craft in a homeschooling enrichment guide published by Little Acorn Learning. Here, we are getting started by painting the base material that will later be cut into leaf shapes.

Painting the Leaves

Painting the Leaves


After a vigorous painting session, the pre-leaves are left out to dry on a trash bag. Couldn’t risk painting the table as well!
Drying the Leaves

Drying the Leaves


Here’s the leaves all cut out and hung up mobile style from two branches mounted on an overhead light.
Finished Leaves

Finished Leaves


After the fact, we realized that we had too many leaves for the mobile. We could have made it significantly more impressive, but I was losing steam by this point. Consequently, I decided to take a few of the more darker, redder leaves and make hang them from a “thankfulness tree.” The “thankfulness tree” is an upcoming Thanksgiving Project. I intended for my son to hang little cards on the three that listed things for which he is thankful. That will still take place. However, the tree will be a little more jazzy in appearance than originally planned.
Thankfulness Tree

Thankfulness Tree

I am avid Halloween collector. If it’s Halloween oriented, I buy it. Problems ensue when –due to the sheer quantity of Halloween products blanketing the house–I end up losing or misplacing something. Every year, I purchase at least one magazine with the intention of pursuing some major crafting project in that magazine. However, that never comes to fruition, because the magazine ends up under the bed or curiously in the trunk of the car. This year was no different. I purchased at least three such magazines. However, all three went missing. Worse, I had purchased a bunch of subtle paper ornaments to place in the window. Of course, the ornaments would miraculously reappear in the pages of the magazines that had temporarily gone missing. They would appear **after ** Halloween. For whatever reason, I decided to get my money’s worth out of the paper crows, cats and bats I had found. I ended up placing them in the numerous windows they have, and they look fantastic. They actually create a homey feeling more so than the spooky feeling that I had anticipated. Thus, the decorations will likely stay up until the start of Winter.

Door Birds

Door Birds

I adore this video. I’m not entirely sure what’s happening, but it appears to be a re-enactment of St. Martin traveling through the snow. Whatever it is, this will be the inspiration for next year’s St. Martin’s Day extravaganza. We’re very much into pageantry and theater and this is something we could pull off at home albeit on a much smaller scale.

Today, we actually put some effort into celebrating a Waldorf Holiday. It’s not so much that the Waldorf school of philosophy invented the holiday. Instead, the holiday appears to be a traditional French holiday that picked up traction in Germany in other parts of Europe. The holiday itself is a celebration of the life of St. Martin. Martin was apparently a Roman soldier who’s spiritual aspirations leading him to a monastic life. The stories surrounding him speak of a pious man who once jeopardized his own life by giving a snowbound beggar part of his protective winter cloak. This story concludes by claiming that the beggar was actually Jesus or some other heavenly figure who was putting Martin’s piety to the test.

We celebrated Martin for the spiritual aspects related to this time of year. It’s focus on pacifism, light, remembrance and charity are in keeping with our Unitarian values. We celebrated the day by singing a St. Martin’s Day song, telling a St. Martin’s Day story and enacting a puppet show. We then discussed the risk that Martin willingly took on by giving away his winter clothing. What we did not do was create lanterns. Promenading about with lanterns is a big part of the Waldor St. Martin celebration. We were unable to fit that in and had just made votives for All Souls’, so we passed this year. Maybe next!

Wooden St. Martin Figure

Wooden St. Martin Figure

St. Martin Paper Bag Puppets

St. Martin Paper Bag Puppets

St. Martin Paper Bag Puppet

St. Martin Paper Bag Puppet

Granpa is an award winning, short children’s film adapted from a John Burningham book. The film is less plot oriented and more impression driven. The film revolves around a little girl who seemingly lives with her grandfather. The story tracks their relationship across seasons, as Granpa and the girl delight in one another’s company and the rich fantasy life they share. Quite late in the story, Granpa begins to decline and die. Despite the ending, the film remains buoyant and dreamy and the brief sadness gives way to renewed joy at the presence of grandpa’s subtle spirit. This was a great book to introduce my son to the concept of death and remembrance in a non-threatening and comforting way.

We have started our November lessons with a focus on remembrance. Using a guide that we purchased from the Little Acorn Learning Web site, we have blended All Souls Day with Veterans Day and a general sense of remembering those we are thankful to have had in our life. This is a bit abstract for my young son to grasp. However, old photos, a story called Nana Upstairs/Nana Downstairs and a movie called Granpa seem to be doing the job.

Here are some large glass votives that we have made for the “remembrance” section of our nature table. I hadn’t anticipated a remembrance theme to the month, so I didn’t have the time to gather pictures of deceased family members. I hope to continue on with this theme next year, and I will be adding such pictures to a section of the nature table.