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I happened by a local discount store that sells one-off products either from foreclosed businesses, fire sales, or so forth. While there, I happened upon some surprising toys on offer. Not only did they have a Underground Railroad game (of all things) they had a beautiful paint set featuring various individuals representative to one Native American culture. I think the figures represent traditional Cheyenne dress, but I do not remember. Whatever the case may be, I decided that this was a worthy impulse buy. I wanted my son to focus on the many native persons who helped the pilgrims survive in their new country, and this was one way for my son to have something “real” to him in his five year old understanding. He absolutely loved his plastic Native Americans and eagerly got them ready for the big Thanksgiving feast. Here, I should note that my own family has Native American ancestry and I am well aware of the controversy surrounding Thanksgiving and Native Americans in general. However, due to my son’s young age, I edited out some but not all of the unpleasantries that occurred subsequent to the Native American/Pilgram encounter. That topic will be left for other days.


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

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