Bringing in branches from the yard to fashion into visual learning tools is a favorite pastime of mine. Our family loves creating special branch trees for Easter and Christmas. But now is the perfect time to create a Thankful Tree with your kids. Here’s why and how to do it.
Why Create a Thankful Tree?
Young kids need concrete, tangible reminders of abstract concepts. So instead of just talking about being thankful, why not create a simple tree with found items that you can add to throughout the season. Being able to manipulate items also reinforces ideas and helps kids to retain them in their memory.
Scripture reminds us over and over to give thanks to the Lord because He is good. Finding a regular way (even for a season) to rehearse God’s faithfulness with your kids is a helpful practice.
Visual reminders are important for most of us, but especially for kids. Do you have memories of your elementary classroom? Didn’t certain posters or items catch your attention and stand out to you? Do you connect them with things you learned in that room? Your kids will do the same with a Thankful Tree. When they see it on a daily basis, learn to talk about God’s goodness and add their leaves to the branches, it will leave a lasting impact on them.
Creating a Thankful Tree isn’t mandated by Scripture, of course! But it’s one way of fulfilling the admonition to parents given in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to rehearse God’s truth with their children in the normal and mundane parts of life.
How to Create a Thankful Tree
Here’s how we are using a Thankful Tree this year.
First, gather some sticks and paint them if you want an extra fun pop of color! Apple Barrel acrylic paints work well for a project like this. Kids love to paint and with a little prep work, the Thankful Tree can double as an art project!
If you don’t have sticks available, you can also create a garland across the windows instead. Twine or yarn would work well, or if you’d like to get even fancier, this wood bead garland would look great strung across a window frame.
If you’re doing a tree, then also grab a container for the base.
Next, go on a nature walk with your kids, collect leaves and press them. Or, if you don’t have leaves in your area, you could purchase some faux leaves or print out your own on colored paper with this leaf template.
Once you have your tree and leaves ready, then for the entire Thanksgiving season, you and the kids can write things you are thankful for on the leaves. You could do this daily, or weekly, or whenever you think about it!
Punch a hole in the leaf and hang it from the Thankful Tree’s branches or allow the leaves to gather at the base of the tree. You could also gather your season’s thankful leaves and use them at Thanksgiving for place settings.
No matter how you use it, the Thankful Tree can be a memorable activity for all ages in your home this season. And don’t forget to download the leaf template HERE.
Abby is a former public school teacher, now homeschooling her five children. She’s in the trenches just like you and knows it can be challenging to be home with your kids all day while you struggle to keep up with the housework and educate your kids (and maybe even work on the side!). She blogs over at www.4onemore.com and hosts the Homeschool with Moxie podcast.