Thanksgiving for Kids

The Thanksgiving Tree

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Looking for a simple but meaningful way to celebrate the holidays? Why not make a Family Thanksgiving Tree?

We already have a Season Tree that we love to decorate, so I was thrilled to find this Thanksgiving for kids idea by Michelle Jones. She kindly wrote out how she made hers step by step.

It is a really lovely way to re-discover the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Create a Thanksgiving Tree

By Michelle Jones

Our family has been making Thanksgiving Trees for several years now and they really make our holidays even more special.

As we see our homemade tree hanging up on the wall each day throughout the holiday season (we keep ours displayed all the way through Christmas), it reminds us of how much we are blessed, even with just one quick glance.

It can be so easy to get overly stressed during the holidays, especially when money is tight or someone in the family might be out of a job or even seriously ill. But we all really do have so much to be thankful for.

It's amazing how a fun and easy project like this can help everyone get in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but it truly does!
Thanksgiving activities for kids
How to Make a Thanksgiving Tree

First, Create a Tree with Any of the Following...

  • Poster Board - With a black or brown marker, draw a large tree on a poster board (forming the outline of a tree trunk and branches), then use small pieces of scotch tape to attach the poster to a closet or pantry door.

  • Construction Paper - Tape together several sheets of brown construction paper to form a tree and branches (use sheets of paper cut in half lengthwise for the branches), then attach the tree to a closet or pantry door as instructed above.

  • Real Tree Branch - Use a real tree branch that's somewhat flat and attach it to the door or place it in a bucket of sand and pinecones. Be creative and make your tree bases however you want!

  • Next, Make Some Leaves to Write on...

    Using construction paper or other similar material, cut out a stack of leaves (preferably the fall colors of red, orange and yellow). Make enough so that each member of the family will have plenty of leaves to write out individual things they are thankful for, and even a few extra for holiday visitors.

    Sometimes I like to attach a small envelope to the door to hold the unused blank leaves, but a small decorative container to place nearby would be even more festive.

    A Memorable Thanksgiving for Kids

    At some point during each day, have everyone take a leaf and write something (or someone) that they are thankful for. If your family is large you might want to limit each person to one thanksgiving leaf per day, otherwise you can write as many as you'd like.

    Then as the leaves are ready, add them to the tree with a small piece of tape on the back, or you can use a glue stick. Place them all along the branches in different directions. You can even place some 'fallen leaves' along the bottom of the tree, for a nice look of the Fall season.

    Making a Thanksgiving Tree has become one of our family's treasured thanksgiving traditions. No matter how we make them they are always beautiful to me. And the meanings within our leaves, of all the things we are thankful for (including each other), are the most beautiful of all.

    One night when my husband came home from work, the children ran to the tree to find a leaf for him to write on. When they asked him what he was thankful for that day, he answered "I'm thankful for Michelle," and proceeded to write my name on the leaf. The kids just thought that was so cool, because earlier that night I had written his name on my leaf too.

    I hope you will try making a Thanksgiving Tree with your family this year, and every year!

    Really, we should make every day a Thanksgiving Day!

    Reproduced with kind permission of Michelle Jones.


    More Thanksgiving for Kids Homeschool Ideas

    I loved this idea, and think it would be wonderful to add it to your Thanksgiving customs. Here are some variations on a theme!

  • You could use handprints on the tree instead of leaves. This would really make it a memorable Thanksgiving for kids.
  • Instead of a tree, you could use a turkey and stick on thanksgiving feathers
  • Use the leaves to make a wreath, and hang it on your door.
  • If you made a small tree each year you could laminate them - and use them for placemats the following year. It wouldn't take long to get a table set - and it would be fun to look back at the placemats each year.

  • Need more activity ideas?

    There are lots of leaf and pumpkin ideas on the fall activities page.

    Or try these Kids Craft Ideas.

    Wanting more ways to add meaning to Thanksgiving?

    Why not get some random acts of kindness ideas?

    Make each child a THANKS bracelet - just replace the I in the instructions with an 'A' for Appreciative.


    Are you going to make a Thanksgiving Tree? I would love to see your photos and hear your comments - do tell me about your experiences!

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