Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thanksgiving Tree

Long time since I've posted here...sorry!  Things are going well, but it's busy home schooling the kids and keeping up with the daily stuff as well.  I thought I'd share our latest project in case someone else might be inspired by it.  I wanted to do some sort of art project for Thanksgiving with the kids that would focus on the reason for the holiday: gratitude.  So, I pondered for a while and came up with the idea of a Thanksgiving Tree.  It was easy and fun to do.  We had a great time and actually didn't get extremely messy, which was good since we were not in paint clothes!  While the kids were "napping" in their rooms,  I painted trees onto the back side of wrapping paper.  I used FolkArt paint from Wal-mart.  It dries fast and washes off easily, plus it's only .97 cents per bottle.  Once the trees were dry, I painted the kids' hands to make the leaves.  We put twenty two "leaves" on each tree since Thanksgiving is on the 22nd this year.  Each day, starting November 1st, we'll write one thing that they are thankful for on a leaf.  Then, on Thanksgiving day, the kids will have a tree full of blessings that we can talk about while we enjoy our turkey dinner.  Here are some pictures in case you want to make your own.
I painted the trees onto the back side of wrapping paper.  Older kids could paint their own tree.  If you want to make it into an art lesson, have them observe trees outside to see how the limbs look without the leaves.

Next I added a bit of grass at the base of the tree so it didn't look like it was floating on the page.  I also added a title so we'd know whose tree belong to whom.  Before we started painting our leaves, I asked the kids to look outside at the variety of leaves on the trees in our backyard.  We named the different colors we saw so the kids would know why we were using the variety of colors I chose for this project.

Time to get messy!  I folded the paper so the kids could reach the limbs of the trees without ripping up the paper by crawling on it.  I opted to do one kid at a time, and just one hand painted at a time.  Marisa wanted to try painting her own hand.  I let her for a couple of leaves.  She did amazingly well for not even three years old!  (We did eleven leaves with the left hand then washed and took a break so those could dry.)

While Marisa's eleven leaves were drying, Kieran had a turn to do some leaves on his tree.  I did most of the painting on his hand, but let him try a couple on his own.  He was a bit more enthusiastic with the paint, but only got a bit on his jeans.  It washed out no problem.  Once his eleven leaves were done, then sister had a turn again to do the rest with her right hand.  The key for these guys was to do one kid at a time, and only one hand at a time...making sure to escort them to the sink so we didn't paint the whole kitchen.  :)

Here's Marisa with her finished project.  (She loves her "Penny the Penguin" from Koala Brothers.)

Here's Kieran with his Thanksgiving Tree.  (Love that smile!)

Both trees are on the wall in the dining room where we do our home school lessons.  We'll write one thing that we are thankful for on a leaf each day in November till Thanksgiving.  Then while we eat our meal, we can review all the amazing things God has blessed us with this year.

Next it was time to let the kids photograph mom.  Kieran decided to go artistic and slant the camera while he snapped the picture.  I think it turned out well.  :)

With a bit of trepidation, I let Marisa (the two year old!) hold my giant camera.  She actually got a decent photo of Kieran and me.  Everybody was all smiles after having a good time painting.  There were tense moments, but overall it was just fun.  I'm eager for November to arrive so we can start writing on our leaves.

Parenting is hard work, and not every day is all smiles and silliness like we had this afternoon.  However, it's the moments like these that I blog about so I can remember and know that there are a lot of good times mixed in with the tough ones.  Perhaps my blogs are a kind of Thanksgiving tree for me. How do you help your kids (and yourself) develop grateful hearts?  I'd love to hear from you.