Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Tree

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Last year my family started the tradition of having a Thanksgiving Tree.  Every time a holiday rolls around I have a hard time dealing with the commercialization and trivialization of the event.  I guess I just feel that if we are going to say that we are celebrating Thanksgiving (for example) that we should actively practice being thankful.  Likewise, if we say that we are celebrating Christmas, we should actually celebrate Christ and not just worship material goods.  I really don't desire to swim against the current in these matters, but I do try to redeem as much real purpose out of the holidays as I can and am always looking for new/better ways to do so!

This Thanksgiving Tree is one way that we practice actively being thankful during November.  What I did was cut out a bare tree from a thick piece of poster board and covered it with paper grocery bags (it needed a little mending this year from being in storage all year =).  Then I cut out enough leaves to account for each day starting with Reformation Day, going through to Thanksgiving Day.  On each leaf I wrote one thing that we can be thankful.  I tried to pick things and people that Trevor might be thankful for.  Last year we focused on family members and his little 'friends.'  This year we are doing family members again and then this time neighbors.  We start on Reformation Day by being thankful for the Bible, and end on Thanksgiving Day by being thankful for Jesus (makes a nice transition to Advent).

Bare Tree
Thankful Tree!

Each day before dinner a leaf 'falls' off of the tree.  We talk about why we are thankful for that person or thing.  Then we pray and thank God for it (and if it's a person, we pray for them too!)  Lastly, if it is a person we write them a little letter saying that we are thankful for them and why.

Last year I just wrote out the letter, but this year I included some copywork on it so that Trevor could be more involved and practice his writing too!  If you would like to do this with your child, feel free to download this copywork for your own personal use.

I cut out my leaves by hand, but you could use a die-cut machine, a fancy Cricut, or just a simple leaf punch.  If you want to be cool like me ;) you can download my template, print it onto cardstock, and cut until your little heart is content!



This is just how we do our tree.  I have heard of other variations, so be as creative as you would like!  My friend Stephanie (who laughs at me for cutting out my own leaves) and her family add a leaf each day so that they end up with a tree full of thanksgiving!  I think that's a great idea.  If your child(ren) are handy with scissors, you could let them cut the leaves out and any age child could decorate/color the leaves and now you've got a great Art project! Do any of you do a Thanksgiving Tree?  How do you do it?  Any other ideas of how to be purposeful about this Thanksgiving season?

Happy Thanksgiving!    


  1. I do a "thankful tree" or "thankful wreath" at work each year with whatever group of kids I have on my caseload. We use varying shaped leaves for each kid's ability simple tear shaped to more complex like yours. The kids have to practice their cutting, then their handwriting by writing what they are thankful for. I collect them and put them either on a tree or make a wreath of them.

  2. I hopped over from Women Living Well (I think - I actually saw you on a few of the ones we both use :) and I LOVE this idea! I'm going to put one together TODAY to put on the back of the front door. What a great way to encourage my five children in focusing on others and not themselves!

  3. Love the tree! But cutting by! That is some dedication!

  4. We do this on Thanksgiving day. The tree trunk and branches we label "God, Christ, Holy Spirit" because those things do not change like the leaves and fall or fade. We make leaves like yours and each person writes several things to be thankful for on them and we share together about them. Many of those things seem permanent, but we want to acknowledge that they are a gift from God and can fade and fall away, lke health, or toys (for the kids usually). Then I record what each person was thankful in our Thanksgiving journal, so years from now we can see how each child matured in thankfulness from trivial things like toys to meaningful things, like a strong marriage to follow as an example.

  5. Thank you, everyone for your comments!

    Cassie, good idea of letting the kids make the leaves to their ability level. I should let Trevor do that next year (I'll have to let a bit of my control freak go, though, since the tree won't look so uniform =)

    Aalderinks, THANK YOU for sharing that! I love the symbolism of things that fade vs the Godhead that never fades. I think I'll add that for next year! I also love the idea of the Thanksgiving journal, I'll have to find myself a journal =)

  6. Amy, what strength of character you are building into your children (family) through being thankful. This makes it pretty visual! I, too, like Aalderinks thoughts on the permanence of the Godhead! Also, the journal!! have a blessed rest of the week :)

  7. Such a simple fun idea. We do a cornucopia for thanks each year like this one:

  8. Very cute tree! I love taking the time to help our kids be thankful this time of year! Thanks for linking up to TGIF.
    beth =-)

  9. Amy..I want to be you when I grow up! :)

    Another great idea!

  10. I tried to Pin this...but it's not letting me log into Pinterest. I'm still new to Pinterest, so I may be doing something wrong.

  11. great idea. we did a thankful wreath but I really like how you do this each night and all the extras involved like writing letters to people. fabulous

    Thanks for sharing this on the sunday showcase. I look forward to seeing what you'll share this week.


  12. Candace, I hope you get your Pinterist account working right. I know mine doesn't seem to work smoothly all the time either =( If you think it's a problem on my end, please let me know!

  13. I just bought some foam leaves this year to use for my tree! Love this yearly activity! Thank you for sharing on Theology Thursdays FOR KIDS!!!

    1. Great! I'm not sure what we will use this year yet..I'd better get to thinking about it!


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