Thanksgiving

Acorn Gnomes

About an hour before class with my youngest kindergarten students, I was inspired. They had a feast later in the day. They would be excited, yet needing to keep busy. They needed an activitiy that would be fun, successful, and simple. Enter the Acorn Gnome.

Easily the easiest gnome ever. And, yes, that's two 'easies' in one sentence :). For this gnome, I gave each student a gnome and colored pencils. We talked about gratitude, and guests at the table, and whether gnomes are real (very heated discussion there). Then they decorate their gnome. They chose their acorn cap. I added glue. Let the gnomes dry a bit. Then I dusted them with a thin coat of gold-glitter paint. Just because everyone loves a little sparkle.

One student opted out of the acorn hat. He didn't want to hide his art under an acorn. Another made Darth Vader. We discussed using our imagination for faces (not needing to draw a face). 

The gnomes became guests at their feast. Super sweet.

Oh, I did bring a little sharpie to write initials on the bottom of gnomes. I changed it quickly to teeny-tiny names because intials were a strange idea (these adults with their strange ideas!).

Supplies

  • Peg dolls
  • Acorns (would be fun to collect with children, but I didn't have the time, I always collect them when I find them (again, adults and their strange ideas)
  • Colored pencils
  • Craft Glue 
  • Sharpie for names
  • Optional glittler paint

Create

Write names when handing out gnomes. Children decorate pegs however they like. Call up children to choose an acorn. Glue acorn caps. Allow to dry during recess. Paint light layer of glitter. Let children enjoy and bring home!

Big thanks to Teacher Holly at the Nevada City School of the Arts for making this class possible :)

Wishing everyone a very happy day. Hoping these gnomes find you with family and plenty to be thankful for!

Photo Credit: Sara Serrata of North Fork Photography

"Leaf" Gratitude

A student named this project. I wanted a way to treasure all the amazing things in our world. We were inspired by the many leaves turning colors and falling this time of year. What if we could sew a leaf where students could collect gratitude inside on slips of paper?

The leaf can become a decoration with a surprise. Students decided they might add gratitudes before Thanksgiving to share on the day. Or they might go around on Thanksgiving and ask everyone to add a gratitude on a little piece of paper to keep inside the leaf. Either way, they discovered these are the perfect way to 'Leaf' a gratitude!

Supplies:

  • Two colors of felt
  • Scissors, needle, and thread
  • Decorations (beads and sequins)

I cut paper with this second/third grade class a lot. I hoped we could make the leap into felt (saving me a ton of prep time). So I brought in rectangles of brown felt. We talked about shapes of leaves and "cutting out" triangles or curves to create a leaf. Students often want to "cut around", twisting the felt and cutting things in half accidentally. We had mixed success. A few needed a second piece of felt, or the leaf was super-small, or not what they expected. We worked through the hiccups.

We talked about decorating one side of the felt. I did show them how to stitch so they could to embroider the veins of the leaves if they wanted. They all looked beautiful in their own way. Students chose the color for the back of the leaf.



At home, I cut the chosen felt bigger than the leaf. I made it roughly similar, but did not meticulously cut the felt to match. This way, if it wiggled, they had room to keep sewing.

For the next class, we talked about sewing up and down (running stitch) and traveling around the edge of the brown leaf like a little caterpillar. "Leave a gap," I said, "So your leaf has a secret compartment for gratitudes." They could add beads and sequins as they travelled around. Each leaf became lovely. We tied loose ends and children promptly planned how they would surprise their family with gratutides in the pocket. A few plan to add it to the Thanksgiving table. A few want to add a loop to hang their leaf. Lots of ideas.

Which is my favorite kind of project. A craft that inspires!

You can see the little gap on this leaf- a space without stiching so you can get inside the leaf.

Hurrah! Wishing you and yours a very thankful season :)

Thankful

This year brings so much gratitude. We are thankful for our book and sharing our book.

We are thankful for seeing our crafts made around the world.

We are thankful for the photos of fairies and owls and critters sewn by children (and adults).

We are thankful for activities. We loved hearing about the scavenger hunt with hidden fairies.

And giveaways. We are thankful for great reviews (so many!). Thank you thank you!

We are thankful for supportive friends. And family. And new friends! We meet so many lovely people into the forest. We appreciate you.

We are thankful for creative children. And creative grown-ups.

We are thankful for our agent and the wonderful people at C&T Publishing who helped make our ideas into a beautiful book.

We are thankful for the bloggers who post reviews and projects. We love the photos of your crafts!

We are grateful for our community.

We are so grateful for our children. Thank you, Anika, for staging these scenes with me yesterday with the fairies!

We are thankful for dreams, because the Forest started as a dream. We are thankful for dreamers.

And we are thankful for magic. The magic of turning felt and ribbons into little treasured stories. The magic of spending time together making cute things.

The magic that makes me smile. Every time. Every time the glue dries, I hold the finished craft. And I smile. So thankful.

We are grateful for good health. Asia and I have both had challenges in our families this year (better now) that remind us how this time together is so very precious. We are grateful for good mornings. And afternoons. And evenings.

I asked my girl and her first answer was Family. Grateful for family. Love and acceptance and growing together.

And of course we are grateful for you. For your reading. And your crafting. And your support of our little journey. You make this possible. And we appreciate you each and every day.

Thank you!

Wishing you a delightful day!


Thankful for Nature

Our world is amazing. Whether we live in a forest, or a meadow, or a city, magic is right outside our doors. This time of year, we love talking about gratitude with family, friendships, food. One of my personal favorite actitivies is bringing children outside and asking them, "What do you appreciate here?"

Having things to touch and explore and collect helps children notice the world that can easily be taken for granted. We can walk past trees or building. It's easy to focus on the destination: going to school, to the park, to the store...

This time I just go outside. I invite children to collect one treasure (maybe two). I wander. On purpose.

We look up. 

We look down.

We notice the passing beauty all around. And we ask questions. We become curious. "What are the spiky things on that tree?" "Why do these leaves change colors?"

This appreciation is simple. And lasting. Children share their treasures.

I love photos because I can take a picture, then they can leave nature in the forest (or side of the parking lot, which is where he found this tiny pine cone). 

They are so excited by their discoveries.

We slow down and notice how the air feels. How does the sun feel on our face? The breeze in our hair?

We are so fortunate, to have these gifts around us every day. No small things.

When we finish the walk, we write poems to remember those feelings. Those discoveries.

To remind us. The world is an amazing place. We have so much to be thankful for :)

She found a leaf shaped like a heart.

We also place our treasures in a display. Since we are a class, one or two things from each child create a diverse collection of leaves, acorns, and tiny pine cones (these are returned to nature within a few days). With my family, each child collects a little more.

I have ideas to look for colors as we wander. Appreciate red in our world. Appreciate green :)

Appreciate now :)

Golden
Star thistles
Calm
Awesome and pretty
Birds singing
Crunch crunch
Happy
Everything is beautiful
Tweet tweet
Goodness
Is in autumn

 

I write the poem with them by asking for feelings, not stories. Their individual contributions create a lovely poem :). I usually write the closing sentiment to tie it all together.

So, ideas :)
  • Take a walk
  • Wander
  • Slow down and share the moment (say how it feels)
  • Collect treasures (gently, no living things)
  • Create a display
  • Draw or paint an image of a favorite treasure or scene
  • Write a sentence about the walk or what was discovered
  • Write poems (or a group poem)
  • Put photos, drawing, and/or poems togegther for a fall book

P.S. If you would like to bring a fairy along on your walk, that would be lovely! Give your fairy a tour of our magical world :)

Enjoy autumn :) 

Grateful in the Forest

We are grateful for magic. For our Forest. For you visiting us and supporting us. We are grateful for creativity. For smiles. For surprises. We are grateful for little things. And big things. And invisible things that we cannot touch, yet know are real and important. Grateful for our children. For all the children. For the vision of a world that is safe and loved and nurtured.

We are grateful for beauty. Hugs. 

Grateful for this holiday. For a day with family and delicious food. For the winter magic just around the corner.

Look who is waiting in the wings!

Not yet, little one, not yet. Let's enjoy Thanksgiving first :)

Happy day to you and your loved ones!