Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Thanksgiving tradition...

Today, I had a Thanksgiving craft time with the grandkids.
Although I've done the occasional informal craft project with two of my granddaughters, this was the first time I've tried a structured craft time with the three "old-enough" grandkids, Sarah (5 1/2) Mackenzie (3 1/2) and Sam (2 1/2). Thankfully, their moms were also present and helping. We made some cute foam door hangers with pilgrims and a "Give Thanks" saying, did some coloring pages, and made some nice squirrel-themed place markers (dumbed down greatly from Martha Stewart). Then we all had a yummy lunch of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chips, and pickles. (Menu chosen by kids.) The nurturing mom in me wanted to make homemade alphabet vegetable soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. The younger, wiser moms -- my daughter and daughter-in-law -- urged simplicity. They were right!

In doing this project, we carried on a sort of informal family tradition of many years' standing. As a child, on the occasions when we ate Thanksgiving dinner at home (we were usually at my grandmother's) I was often enlisted to help make place cards -- most often just a small tent of construction paper with the name crayoned on and a Thanksgiving sticker placed beside the name.

When my own kids were growing up, I usually gave them the place card job to do. (Sometimes we served such a large group that I didn't bother with place cards and just let people eat wherever they landed.) Usually, the place cards were the same construction paper type I always made as a child. But sometimes we branched out and tried something different. One year, we made these neat little miniature Mayflower ships out of egg cartons. The individual "cups" from the carton were cut out and painted brown. Then we stuck a piece of floral foam inside each one and added a toothpick for a mast. A sail was cut out of paper and a name printed on each sail, then the sail was threaded onto the toothpick. We had a whole flotilla of such ships, one at each place, and they really came out very nicely indeed. Another year, I remember, the kids designed the place cards themselves -- little birch bark canoes (made out of construction paper) stuck in rectangles of styrofoam to enable them to stand up, then strips of blue construction paper "waves" were glued to the front of each stand to hide the styrofoam. A name was printed on the side of each canoe. Those were also very cute. I'm sure there were others over the years, but two canoes and a Mayflower survived, so those are the ones I remember!

We had a nice time this morning, and this is something I'd like to try to continue every year. It can only become easier and more fun as the kids get older and more capable. In browsing the web, I've noticed tons of neat ideas for kids' Thanksgiving crafts, so we won't have any lack of projects to try in years to come.

For now, three little kids made some neat projects... and the Thanksgiving place marker torch is passed to a new generation.

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