Fun and Educational Thanksgiving Books Plus Bonus Printables, Videos and Other Activities

 

I found these neat Thanksgiving printables at The Crafty Classroom.

I printed them out and can’t wait to use them this Thursday for our Thanksgiving table. It would be good to laminate them, but my laminator is still in a box. I’m going to tape the place mats to our old place mats that are shaped like turkeys.

The place cards have a conversation starting question or task for them to do, such as “Tell a silly story about yourself.” or “What are you thankful for?”.

We are getting pretty excited about Thanksgiving around here.

We have read “‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving”.

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

It was really funny. We all enjoyed it.

We also read “Thanksgiving at the Tappletons”.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons

It was also really funny.

Some other good books to read in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Day at Our House Kelsey’s favorite. She reads this to the younger kids every Thanksgiving.

Thelonius Turkey Lives Kelsey likes this story and the recipe at the end for Sweet Potato Casserole. There’s another recipe in it, too, for Thelonius’ Feather Cookies.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh – enough information to be interesting, story about the Hopkins family, but easy enough for younger readers to read. This is a chapter book and covers the main topics of the Pilgrims, Indians and the First Thanksgiving.

Pete the Cat and the First Thanksgiving This is a lift-the-flap book. I haven’t actually read it yet, but I like Pete the Cat’s other books, so I assume I will like this one, too.

The Story of the Pilgrims Introduction to the story for younger children.

If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 Informative, makes kids think about what it must have been like to be a Pilgrim.

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks Helps younger children understand why celebrate Thanksgiving – so we can give thanks! To God, for those of us who believe in Him. And to have a thankful attitude, in general.

The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving Good for ages 4-8, tells what it was like for Pilgrims in terms children can relate to, but describes hardships in a way they can handle.

Squanto’s Journey – lots of information about the details of Squanto’s life.

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl – uses actual photographs of a 10 year old girl in period dress who reenacts Pilgrim life at reconstructed Plimoth Plantation.

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy Same format as Sarah Morton’s Day, but for boys!

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas – well-researched, historically accurate.

Another fun book to read is A Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. The price for this at Amazon is ridiculous. I would get it at the library if it’s available. There are no copies available in our library system here. It is a very popular book. Here’s a summary of the story:

“Every year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. “Ask someone poor or lonely,” she always said. Thanksgiving was Grandmother’s favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board. But she wasn’t happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house? After a long absence this delightful 1971 classic is back. So is Grandmother’s secret recipe!” The recipe is included at the end of the book.

Here is a fun way to learn more about Thanksgiving. A project pack from Hands of a Child for only $3.00. I recommend the lapbook ebook download or the Note Pack, which is like a lapbook but made to just put in a notebook instead of cutting little booklets. Students write information which is provided in the research guide.

Thanksgiving Curriculum from Hands of a Child

And no Thanksgiving celebration would be complete without A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

http://youtu.be/VayAyAr-xqI

This cupcake idea would be fun to do to go along with the movie. This idea is on my Pinterest page and comes from here.

And here’s the story of the First Thanksgiving told by the Peanuts gang. Click on the YouTube button so it will go automatically from one clip to the next.

http://youtu.be/8xlY4B0y_Pg?list=PLbmsjgfVXtPQRB8kgTkQeMUV3c8BXfiqS

Celebrating Freedom Days in Lots of Ways

Freedom is a good thing. We Douglases really value freedom. We are very independent and are glad to live in a country that allows more freedoms than so many other countries do.

We celebrate Freedom on more occasions than just the 4th of July. We have a day we call Freedom Day, which happens to fall on or near Halloween. We have chosen to celebrate Freedom on that day instead of the traditional things that are celebrated on that day. We celebrate Freedom instead of Halloween.

The one thing our celebration has in common with the traditional celebration is — CANDY!!!

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On or near October 31st, I buy lots of candy, and I make up lists of questions for each child, based on what they’ve been learning in homeschool.

Then I ask each one a question, and when they get the right answer they get to choose 2 pieces of candy.

Sometimes it moves kind of slowly, but they entertain each other between their questions, so they all really like it. They know the pay-off for their patience is going to be very sweet, so it helps them to wait their turn.

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In this way, we can review what we have been learning and do some narration and earn candy all at the same time. Works for me! The kids look forward to this every year. When they hear others start talking about Halloween, they start asking me when Freedom Day is.

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We went to Blessington Farms that same day, and Garrett tied into our theme of Freedom by doing the Statue of Liberty pose in one of our pictures.

On Freedom Day we celebrate Freedom of Religion, Freedom to homeschool, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom in Christ.

Which leads me to the second part of this post…

Did you know this was going to be a two-part post?

I’m throwing in this second part for free. dom. 🙂

Have you ever thought about what Freedom in Christ is?

What are we free from when we are in Christ?

Well, one thing we are free from is sin. When we make Jesus Lord of our lives, we are no longer slaves to sin.

We may still sin, but it is really our choice. We have power over sin if we ask the Lord to help us not to sin anymore, and we access the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.

Another thing we are free from is satan’s dominion over us. He cannot make us do anything.

But –

If we don’t enforce our freedom, the devil knows ways to keep us in bondage.

He uses things like generational curses, generational sins, things that our ancestors participated in and pronounced on their descendants to cause problems in our lives just because they have never been specifically broken over us. These things are some of the demonic strongholds spoken of in II Corinthians 10:4 –

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,”

When Gary and I went away for our anniversary last weekend, I knew that I was supposed to help him get freedom from some things that the enemy was still using to keep him in bondage. There were some things he was doing, things he was thinking, mindsets, and attitudes that I knew were not really the way Gary was supposed to be.

These things were damaging his relationships with members of our family.

I knew that he couldn’t see them himself.

So I prayed about our anniversary trip the whole week before we went. I found a Bed and Breakfast not far from home. It was in a peaceful, country setting. The room I chose had a living room portion, too, with a nice couch, chair, recliner and coffee table. So we were able to sit and relax and talk about what was going on.

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I brought some things to his attention. When I mentioned specific things he said or did, he told me he didn’t remember them. As we kept talking and praying about these things, I realized that there was demonic interference that was causing him to do and say things. He said that a shroud came down over his head sometimes and he would puzzle about something, he was kept preoccupied with trying to figure something out and it would last a while, and then when he came back to attention everybody would be acting strange, like something bad had just happened, and he didn’t know what it was.

Here’s how he described it:

“Like a shroud – a panicked feeling to resolve what was before me or else – not just one thing but several, and it created an unreal amount of pressure, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and just impending doom and condemnation. I got used to it – just figured it was just me trying to solve the world’s problems.”

I would later tell him he did this or that, but he didn’t remember those things. When he described it that way, I realized that I had been talking to and dealing with a demon at times, thinking it was Gary, and I was getting really mad at Gary when I should have been mad at the devil.

After we realized who the enemy was and what he had been doing, we prayed about how he got in and what right he had to stay in Gary’s life and control him like that. We knew that it had to do with a familiar spirit passed down through his family line. We believe it was from a great uncle that was a shaman of the Cherokee.

Gary wrote down the list of behaviors, mindsets and attitudes and repented of them, came out of agreement with them, and commanded spirits associated with them to leave. Then he told the familiar spirit to leave, all of this in Jesus’ name.

After a while, he started laughing. He felt a change. He felt lighter. He felt free.

He started treating me different after that. I haven’t felt so loved and cherished in a long time!

Yes, indeed, Freedom is a good thing.

Thanksgiving Seven Years Ago: A Season of Miracles

The previous post reminded me of so many miracles that God did for us just while we were in Colorado Springs in November of 2005 that I knew I needed to record them here.

We left Arizona because the Lord let us know that Arizona was not really the land of our dreams after all. We had been staying at a ritzy hotel for $50 a night, but we could feel that our time there was coming to a close. Fiona became so sick that she couldn’t breathe through her nose, so she couldn’t nurse. She was coughing. She was feverish. I didn’t know where to take her or what to do for her. I just knew we had to leave Arizona. So we called Pastor Bill Wisener and told him we were leaving Arizona and heading back to Colorado. He said that he already knew that. He told us to go to Colorado Springs and he would make some phone calls to try to get us hooked up with a ministry there. As soon as we started driving out of Arizona, Fiona started feeling better and was able to nurse, and all of the symptoms disappeared!

We picked up a guy in New Mexico whose truck was sitting by the side of the highway and took him to a gas station. We were stuffed to the gills in that van, but our attitude was “God helps us whenever we are in need, so if we see someone in need, we will do whatever we can to help them”.

His name was John, and he was quite a character. He was trying to get to New Orleans to help with the clean-up efforts after Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t have much money, or anything else, but he was always willing to go help others. He cussed like a sailor and drank, but he had a heart of gold.

We took him back to his truck, and he was so grateful for what we did for him. He kept thanking us and shaking his head about how full our van was, but we still stopped to pick him up.

Then we drove on to Colorado Springs. We stopped at a hotel when we got there, and went in to check in. Something didn’t feel right there, so we left and Shawn found a Days Inn in our coupon book that he said God was telling us to go to. The price was good, so we went there instead. Gary went in to check us in, and who do you think he found there at the desk. John! The guy we had picked up in New Mexico. He was checking in to the same hotel!

We were shocked and amazed! He came out and greeted the rest of us like we were old friends. He would have helped us pay for a hotel room, but we didn’t want anything from him.

We stayed in that hotel for a couple of weeks. We got to know the head clerk really well. She would talk with us each time we came down to get more towels or when we left to go somewhere or when we came down to eat our continental breakfast. Her name was Sharon Followill. She knew our story and why we were there.

She was amazed that we were friends with John. He was such a salty character, and she knew that we were very clean and trying to live a godly, pure life. She also knew that we were running out of money. We paid our bill, but our account was almost dry and we had no way of getting any more money. She asked us every day if we had found a place to stay or a job or if anything miraculous had happened yet. It hadn’t.

One day, we went to visit Focus on the Family. The kids loved it there. They sang and danced on the stage. They went down the big slide. They went through all of the exhibit rooms. I had always listened to Focus on the Family, and we all listened to Adventures in Odyssey, so it was a really neat place for us to visit. We went to Whit’s End and got the cheapest things on the menu just so we could say we ate there.

The kids were having fun, but Gary and I were feeling pretty down. We knew that we were not going to be able to pay for another week in the Days Inn. We didn’t know what we were supposed to do next. We had tried to ask the Red Cross and United Way and other government agencies to help us find a place to stay, but they wouldn’t help us. Somehow we didn’t qualify for their assistance. One of them had a waiting list and didn’t think they would have anything ready for another month or two. John was trying to help. He tried to go fight in a “Tough Man contest” to make some money for us, but he couldn’t find the place where it was happening.

So I was feeling down and sitting in a chair just watching the kids sing and dance on the stage in the Adventures in Odyssey play area when a young lady started talking with me. She had her little boys there, too. She lived there in Colorado Springs. Her name was Pennie, too! Spelled differently, of course. I told her a little bit of our story, and she got all excited. She called her two friends over to listen to what I was saying. They were so impressed by our faith in God and the way our children were learning how real God is because they saw God provide our every need every day. They wanted the same thing for their children. They gave me their names and phone numbers. I gave them Gary’s cell phone number. They told me to call them if we needed anything and said they wanted to help us.

Well, the day came that we had to check out of the hotel. Our money had run out. Sharon Followill was so worried about us.

She asked what we were going to do – where we were going to go. We had no idea. We got into the van and headed for a park to pray.

As we were approaching the park, about to turn in, Gary’s phone rang. A man told Gary that Shampa (a woman we met at Dutch Sheets’ church) had told him about us and he wanted to meet us. So we turned around and went to the address he told us to meet him at. It was a bank. He met us in the parking lot and talked with Gary for a while. His name was Burt. He had his wife with him. I was sitting in the back of the van, so I couldn’t hear much of what was going on.

(I rode in the back of the van with Morgan the whole trip to Arizona and back to Kansas City to keep Morgan out of everybody’s hair and to keep them all from killing him. I literally saved his life. He was only 4 years old, and he was very obnoxious.)

Burt and his wife told Gary that they knew what it was like to lose a house. They had lost two houses in the past. They knew that God sometimes lets things like that happen to people because He has some things to teach them. They didn’t judge us or deem us unworthy of their help because we were poor and seemed to be under God’s judgment or a curse or had been foolish or something, like other Christians along the way had. Burt gave Gary a check for $500 and went into the bank with us to make sure that they would cash it for us. It was his bank, so we didn’t have any trouble. Now we had money again! We went back and checked in to the same Days Inn. Sharon Followill was so happy to see us. She was amazed at how God had provided for us.

Burt had told us to go to his ministry headquarters to get some coats and stuff since the weather was getting colder. It was November by this time.

We had left Ohio on September 4, 2005. We arrived in Kansas City about 3 days later. We stayed in a house that was pretty well empty for a month. But it was for free, and we were very thankful to Connie for letting us stay there. We left there during the first week of October. We drove to Colorado, on our way to Arizona. We had met Risa Lind at IHOP in Kansas City. Before we left, she gave me the phone number of a pastor in Limon, Colorado. As we approached Colorado, I called Pastor Bill Wisener and left him a message. I asked him if we could stay in his church for the night. A little later he called me back and he said he had everything ready for us. He told us where to go. We did, and it was a hotel in town, and he had already paid for two rooms for us.

He also invited us to his church the next morning. We went there, and he had the whole church pray over our family. He talked with us and prophesied to us. He seemed to know us before we ever opened our mouths. He greatly encouraged Shawn. He told Gary that God was leading us, and we were in His will. He told me something that I just could not tell Gary. He said that Arizona was not really the land of our dreams like we were expecting. I just stared at him. I said, “I’m not telling Gary that.” He said, “You don’t need to. Just go on to Arizona and see what happens. God will take care of you. But that’s not where Gary will find what he’s looking for.” So I kept these things in my heart and pondered them.

We went on to Arizona. We were there through the month of October into November. Then the thing happened with Fiona getting sick, and we knew by this time that Arizona was not the place for us after all.

Now we’re back to the time that I started this post with – the month of November 2005.

So we had met Burt and he gave us $500 and some coats for the kids and me.

We were able to stay at the Days Inn for another week.

But then we ran out of money again.

Gary went to check out of the hotel for the last time, and Sharon was really worried now. She kept asking him what we were going to do. We didn’t know this time any more than we did the first time. We told her not to worry, that God would take care of us, and we left the hotel. As we were driving Gary saw that he had a voice mail on his phone. It was from one of the young women we had met at Focus on the Family. She wanted us to come and stay with her family at their apartment! She had 3 young boys and a husband in a 2-bedroom apartment and was inviting us to stay with them! We didn’t have any choice, so we drove to her apartment. She was so gracious to us. They made us very comfortable and treated us like honored guests. She told us that one of the other young ladies we had met at Focus on the Family wanted us to come over for a Thanksgiving dinner. So we went to Gina’s apartment the next day and ate a delicious meal of turkey with all the trimmings! We were overwhelmed with the way God was taking care of us through these people we had just met. That afternoon, Gary found another voice mail on his cell phone. Sharon Followill had been praying for us to find a place to stay, and every time she prayed, she kept seeing her own house. So she asked us to come and stay at her house! So we drove to her address, and her family welcomed us like long-lost friends and treated us like family and let us stay at their house for two weeks. It was a 4-bedroom house, and we had the house to ourselves most of the time because Sharon and her husband worked during the day and their sons went to school. Somebody gave them money to use for us, so she bought a bunch of food at the store so that we ate well the whole time we were there, and I made a big Thanksgiving dinner for all of us. But the time was closing on this leg of our journey. They had to leave to go to Texas to visit family for Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t keep staying in their house because they were renting the house. Otherwise, I think they would have let us keep staying there. But we knew it was time for us to leave. There was only one problem. Well, two actually. The van was almost out of gas, and we had no money. We prayed. The day before they were planning to leave, we got a card from Risa Lind with $25 in it. Gary called Pastor Bill in Limon, Colorado and told him we were coming. Pastor Bill said he knew we were and had already made arrangements at the same hotel we stayed in before. That night, my friend Shari called us and told us she wanted to send us money and asked for an address to send it to. I gave her Connie’s address since we knew we were headed back to Kansas City. We left the Followill’s the next morning with our van packed even fuller than before. Someone who stayed at the Days Inn had given us all kinds of brand new clothes and toys and stuff. Katie laid on top of a big pile in the very back and the rest of us scrunched into the rest of the van.

We stayed in Limon, Colorado that night, and Pastor Bill met us at the hotel (which he had paid for our rooms in again) and prophesied to us and prayed over us again and gave us all the money he could scrape up. It was enough to pay for gas and food to get us back to Kansas City.

This is just a brief summary of the many miracles God did for us just during one month of our Journey of Fire. The month of November 2005 in Colorado Springs, Colorado – exactly seven years ago.

God provided exactly what we needed at exactly the time we needed it moment by moment! At the time, it was very scary and hard to enjoy. But now I look back in amazement and gratefulness for the way He took care of us and passed us along from one of His children to another to make sure that our needs were met.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. He is still taking good care of us.

He has good plans for us.

He has good plans for you, too. Put Him first in your life. Put His word and His will above everything else. Only do what He tells you to do. Obey the Law of Love. And then, whether by miracles or by natural means, He will take care of you and your family.

There’s no need to worry or fret. God will take care of you. I guarantee it.

I Want Easter to Be Even Better Than Christmas!

A few years ago I caught the vision of making Easter even more special than Christmas. After all, Jesus’ death and resurrection is the highlight and culmination of everything that Christianity is about. Why should we get all excited about Jesus’ birth and entrance into this world as a little baby and then yawn about the fulfillment of His life’s mission and purpose, not to mention what that sacrifice and offering accomplished for us?

Since that time, I have attempted to make Easter extra special for my family. I bought new Bibles for each child the first year. I got versions for them that would make it easier for each of them to read the Bible themselves. Since then, I have alternated between getting new Bibles, getting Veggie Tales dvd’s, other Christian dvd’s, anything that comes to my attention (by the Spirit’s leading) that seems like it would go along with the message of the life of Christ and His death and resurrection. I put candy in their Easter baskets, too. They get very excited about Easter now.

We make resurrection rolls. We color Easter eggs for fun and have an egg hunt for the little ones. We don’t study the meaning of the word “Easter”. We don’t worship a goddess of fertility. We don’t really even talk much about eggs symbolizing new life. We just have fun and mention many times during the day how thankful we are for Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. The older kids watch “The Passion”. Last year, I had them watch “The Nativity Story” for Easter! Anything about His life story is important when we are celebrating Jesus. And that is what Easter means to us. We celebrate Jesus!

I wrote a very candid post about last Easter if you’re interested in some of the activities we usually do to try to make Easter memorable and Christ-focused. Sometimes I try a little too hard. Or have higher expectations than I should. Or try to do things in my own strength and understanding. You’ll see all of those things in that post. But when I’m weak He is strong.

I hope that this encourages you to focus on Jesus during this spring and Easter season.

We are lightly observing the season of Lent this year. We are not Catholic, but we do believe in fasting and self-examination and preparing our hearts for celebrating Jesus’ life and death.

So I’m incorporating some things that have struck my fancy this year as a way to prepare the hearts of my younger children and get their focus off of the candy and onto the real meaning of Easter – the death and resurrection of Jesus. I wrote about them in this post.

I found out how the early church intended Lent to be observed and why here at this site.

One thing that I really liked was the list of questions we should ask ourselves during this period of self-examination leading up to Easter.

Here it is:

Am I sharing gladly what I have with others, especially the stranger and the poor?
Do I have a gracious and patient attitude with others, especially those who irritate me?
Is it time for a change or a growth in my Bible study and the way I view my faith?
What are the lurking problems, which still plague me?
Am I as thoughtful and forgiving of family as others, or do I take my frustrations out on them?
Do I speak up for the maligned and oppressed, or do I remain silent in order to remain popular?

I thought these were very pertinent questions that would help us to get back on track if we’ve veered off and become self-focused or world-focused instead of Christ-focused. Our relationships are so important. And meditating on these thoughts and keeping them in mind should help us to improve and strengthen our relationships with God and with others.

Preparing Preschoolers’ Hearts for Resurrection Sunday

Here’s a fun idea for Lent.

Jesus Storybook

If you have preschoolers (or kids a little older) and you want to help them prepare their hearts for Easter, you can read The Jesus Storybook Bible to them for the 40 days before Easter (Lent) and end up at the Easter Story at just the right time. You can read one story each day and end up on Day 40 at the story of The Resurrection on the day before Easter. Then there are 4 more stories in the book for follow-up.

The Jesus Storybook Bible is a wonderful retelling of the whole Bible that whispers the name of Jesus in every story. It portrays Him as the One who rescues us from sin, which is really what He did!

So, if you want to give your kids an overview of the Bible in 44 days, you can do it during this Lenten season. Or whenever you choose to read through this charming story Bible.

I have seen people recommend this book even for adults to get a good overview of the Bible, because it is so well-written!

And to make it even more wonderful, they now offer a deluxe edition which includes a CD with narration by David Suchet. I already owned 2 copies of The Jesus Storybook Bible, but upon the recommendation of a friend, I bought the deluxe edition, too, so that I would have the CD. I am so glad I did! Listening to David Suchet read it is like watching a movie. He is an excellent narrator. I enjoy reading aloud to my children, but this CD makes this Bible even better.

Now Garrett and Fiona can follow along in their Bibles, and I can follow along in mine while we listen to it. And when Emma gets a little older, she will already have a copy of this Bible.

I realize that Lent has already been going on for a couple of weeks, but if you want to catch up to Day 12 (we skip Sundays in the counting of Lent), you can read one story in the morning and one in the evening until you catch up. Or just read it at your own pace. Just realize that you can read an overview of the whole Bible in 44 days if you read one story a day, and do what’s right for your family.

I got this idea from In Lieu of Preschool. She has lots of great ideas for keeping your preschooler active and learning. Here is the post where she shares the Reading Plan for reading the Jesus Storybook Bible in 44 days, covering up to the Resurrection by the 40th day. She also links to a post about another activity to do with children to mark off the the days up to Easter using this Lenten calendar.

From the Catholic Icing blog here