At-Home Learning is an early childhood education resource (for ages 2-8) providing families, educators and community partners with at-home learning activities, guides, and expert advice.
Gratitude is the essence of Thanksgiving. It’s a special time to share with loved ones and to recognize all there is to be thankful for and what better way to start celebrating than with a little no-fuss family decorating?
Here is a stunning, homemade Thanksgiving garland activity you can make with the little ones in your life to celebrate the season. Bonus! It’s also a great way to tune out for a moment and practice a little bit of mindfulness.
This activity will help your child:
- Practice mindfulness through means of gratitude
- Develop and enhance executive functioning skills: planning and preparing, problem solving and working memory
- Practice fine motor skills
- A container or bag to collect leaves
- 40+ leaves from outside (If there is no fall foliage where you live, artificial leaves from the craft store work just as well.)
- Roll of string or yarn
1. Plan and prep: gather string, scissors and a container to collect your leaves. Place string and scissors on a table or on the floor, clear of any clutter.
2. Gather around 40 leaves from outside or use artificial leaves from a local craft store. Ask your child to count the leaves as they collect them for added fun and a little bit of a challenge.
3. Take 6-8 leaves and ask your child to name 6-8 things they are thankful for. If they have trouble coming up with what they are thankful for, model ideas for them.
4. Gather the 6-8 leaves and hold them in a bundle by their stems. Wrap a piece of the string (around 6 inches in length) around the base of the stems to hold them together and tie it securely. Repeat with as many bundles of leaves as you want on your garland or until you have at least 6 or 7 “leaf flowers” attached to the string. Note: parents and caregivers will need to help tie the knots.
5. Cut a longer piece of string (make it as long as you want your garland to be) and tie your leaf bundles on it at regular intervals.
6. Hang your garland on a mantle or place on your Thanksgiving table as a centerpiece.
Meg Raby is a speech language pathologist, children’s book author and reviewer of children’s books published by many well-known publishing houses including Chronicle Books, HarperCollins and Gibbs Smith. She runs two Instagram accounts, @bedtime.stories.forevermore, where she highlights only the best in children’s literature, and @mybrotherotto, where she advocates for autistic children and adults while championing the message that everyone should be included.