Give Thanks and Receive Thanks

thanksgivingIt’s our last week of November, and people are busily preparing to gather around the table. Many are fantasizing about their favorite side dish, and more than happy to let everyone know what that dish is! If you haven’t gotten your supplies… good luck to you, because the lines have already started to back up a few days ago.

Besides the food though, we must reflect on the actual thing being celebrated! Thanksgiving! Grace was given to those pilgrims all those years ago by tribes that saw the need to help. On a daily basis we give thanks to people that bestow on us small favors. Holding a door open, let a person get into traffic, stop for people walking across the street, saying good morning, or even offering a smile. These are all gifts, however minuscule they may be, they are all significant and help to make a person’s day better. You can’t help but pass those positive gifts forward onto another, and hopefully they will do the same.

I put “Give Thanks” first in the title above, because we so often don’t see or let it sink in, when we receive these small favors.  “I woke up, so did every member of my family. No one is coughing and we all feel good. Yay!” Thankful… YES! Employment, roofs over our heads, food in our refrigerator, clothes on our bodies, and a country with FREEDOM! Thankful… YES!

thankful 2The list of examples of things to be thankful for can go on and on. They will also vary for different people. What’s important is knowing that when life seems so down, there is always something to be thankful for, even if it’s for something simple as the air you breath.

If you are reading this, and subscribed to Discover! Children’s Museum, you are most likely around little ones or have great hope for our future generation. It’s important for us to teach children about being thankful. We have such a wonderful opportunity in our country to be able to teach our children about this wonderful tradition.  As they learn how to do so daily, they also become content, and are well likely to proceed to extend their hands out to share that contentment with others.

There are many simple ways of doing this, and not to mention oodles of articles on the subject.  So we’ll share a link about that too!

  • Be an example: If your child sees that you are thankful they will also mimic that same behavior.  Point out what there is to be thankful for. The air we breath, family, food, flowers, sun, etc. Say why you are thankful for them. “I’m so thankful for fresh air, it makes me feel so good, and thank goodness the trees make air for us to breath!”
  • Give Thanks and Receive Thanks: When you see them do something nice, thank them for it. Or just simply thank them for being themselves. They in turn will do the same to you as well to those around them.
  • Take in the life around you: When kids are taught to observe the joy and positive things around them. They will start to seek out those things where ever they go.
  • thankfulShare what you are thankful for daily: We often do this, it’s simple and yes we sometimes forget. I often ask the kids what was the best thing that happened in their day, and we’ll also asked what they didn’t like. This helps to keep me aware of what’s going on and expand on any positive or negative things. It also helps them too, to know that even if they had a very miserable day that something good was in it too.
  • Point out what’s good about the world around us: Now there may be some out there that say, “Well there is a lot of BAD out there too.” To which I say, there comes a time and a place as well as a different blog entry for that. So for now, talk about our freedom and the vast array of cultures/people/environments/celebrations.
  • Read books about gratitude: There are so many out there and if you don’t have the money. Well… fancy that! You can borrow them from the library! Yet another thing to be thankful for.  Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson is one of our family favorites!
  • Practice: Practice makes perfect, and we are teaching our kids to do so on a daily basis. We teach them to thank us after they have been passed the salt, handed a spoon, or given a treat. We also can teach them how to write a thank you note to someone that has given them a gift. Plus they get to see us in action when we have received something as well.
  • IMG_3880Craft Gratitude: We blogged a couple of weeks ago about making a Thankful Tree. There are oodles of other ways to use crafts to teach children about it, and most likely you have seen them come home with the results from school, church, or other clubs. Like adults, kids like to see things come together, and they also like feeling like they accomplished something when they’ve created their masterpieces. So praise them and add that you are so thankful that they are thoughtful and aware of the blessings they have had.

For more helpful articles & craft idea, check out our Be Thankful Board!

So with all these tidbits of advice. We at Discover! Children’s Museum wish you a very VERY happy Thanksgiving. We are very thankful for your support and will be even more happy to give thanks to all the little faces when we return. For now be safe and happy Discover! Friends!

 

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves… Compost!

The past two weekends have been beautiful! We even have a couple more days that are supposed to be wonderful.  People are out and shaping their beds up, or perhaps more like “turning the sheets down” so their gardens may go to sleep.

This is the first year that I have had to get rid of HUGE quantities of leaves.  I really am not over exaggerating! I mean BIG! So big I used the largest kiddie pool you can get… You know the one with the steps and hand rail. I filled that thing up eight times, and that was only the back yard.

DSC_5308So what are some of the fun things that you can do with leaves and kids? There is the obvious, like running, jumping, and scrunching them.  Which was exactly what we did, but what about a science project!

What Leaves Can Do

Leaves are a wonderful source for gardeners, and as long as you have leaf bearing trees that are in the ground and producing leaves each year, consider them a part of your team! Leaves are an organic resource, and make a wonderful mulch for your garden.  Each year they are pulling up minerals from your soil, which in turn, when you use them in your garden they feed earthworms and little microbes in the dirt.  Leaves help to break up heavy soils, and retain moisture in sandy soil.  They also helps to balance nitrogen in your compost pile. They also are handy for the plants you have in your garden whose roots may need a little protection from the cold winter.

compost_in_binsMany gardener’s or Green Thumbs love this time of year to get a jump start for their gardens next year.  They usually have a pile or bin that they have grass clippings, leaves, dirt, coffee grinds, as well as fruit and veggie scraps that they’ve been setting aside during the year.  They will spend the winter going out and turning it over from time to time, to help the contents break up more easily. When spring rolls around they will have a pile of incredible compost to use for their garden.

So how can kids do this? Simple, it’s like cutting a recipe down for two instead of a big family.  Check out our fun project below!

DSC_5302What you’ll need!

  • 16 oz cups with holes in the bottom
  • 1 large bowl
  • Compost items: Leaves, grass clipping, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds, etc.
  • 1/4 cup soil or dirt
  • 1-2 teaspoons of water
  • plastic wrap
  • rubber band
  • large spoon
Pillbugs
Pill bugs help to eat decomposing plant materials and turn it into compost.

So go ahead and go outside and have some fun with your kids.  Find all your outdoor materials and add them to the bowl.  While doing so you might come in contact with some of natures helpers. You can also add some pieces of paper if you want.

Compost_CupWhen you have stirred all your ingredients, you can divide the contents of your bowl in the different cups. (Make sure your holes are already punched through.  Then add your saran wrap on top and then you can place your rubber band around the brim of the cub and saran, so it’s sealed.

Now find a place to put it.  Also make sure you put something underneath, since there are holes.  It will need a spot where it gets sun and shade.  Add 1 teaspoon of water periodically, and after doing so, give it a little bit of a shake.  Both the water and movement will help the materials inside it break down and turn into compost!

What does the sun and shade do?

Bacteria and fungi love the heat, and they are also what helps to break down all the materials you threw in the cup.  Whereas the shade will help to cool down the compost so the moisture won’t all escape.

Now that your compost cups are all ready, it’s time to keep and eye on them and watch what happens.

wormsWhat do worms do?

Worms are actually called an organism, and they eat the leaves, grass, and any other decomposing material. When they do so, they actually are producing compost too. Now for this project, you won’t need to add them, but in big compost bins, these little critters are a huge tool in breaking down the leaves, grass, or whatever else is in the compost bin. Worms are not the only all stars in the dirt however, pill bugs or what I like to call “rolly polly’s” also help.  Along with many other bugs!

What do you do with the compost?

After the ingredients you have made have turned into compost (which may take several weeks), it should look dark, crumble easily, and look like soil. You can now add it to your garden.

cs-boy-helping-make-bin-480
Making a large compost bin.

For more articles on composting as well as how to make a large compost bin, visit our Pinterest Board Fun in The Garden.

Happy composting Discover! Friends!

 

Pillbugs

Craft Time: The Thankful Tree

IMG_3361November! Leaves have changed into their brilliant colors and then made magnificent blankets underneath each naked tree. Temperatures are dropping, and many are donning their scarves, boots, or dare I say favorite spots teams colors. Fire places have began to crackle and ovens have started emitting the delightful fragrances of baked meals and desserts. Mugs are being held with both hands, and noses are breathing in steam.  Oh the loving traditions fall brings!

One tradition that seems to start in late October is hearing or seeing people talk or write about what they are thankful for. Now we all know that we should not just spout out our thanksgivings during one month a year and appreciate them through out instead, but lets face it… It’s hard! Especially when we get into the routine of waking, rushing kids out the door, do our duties throughout the day, come home, help with home work, make a meal, put a number of little ones to sleep, and then either crash on the couch or crawl into bed. While doing all these daily tasks it can be very difficult to shout out… “Thank you for the Sun! Thank you for the neighbor who picked up our trash can that fell over! Thank you that my child is learning in school! Thank you for freedom in this country! Thank you for health, love, hugs, music, rain, food, comfort, teachers, and so on.”

Part of why we have this month is to rejoice in our blessings. To share that we are thankful, and that luckily as humans we can have that in our nature. Children learn from those around them, and that is why teaching this particular trait is crucial. Pointing out the positive things on a daily basis helps children to learn to be optimistic and more positive.  When they say “I hate the rain!” A positive come back is, “But what does the rain help out with… Our planet, the plants, our food, and more!” Taking it further to point out a break in the rain. “Look at that, that cloud is letting us stay dry while we walk into school… Yay!”

Looking for the silver lining of any cloud is hard, but teaching our little ones will help them in the future with their feelings. It can help them get through tough situations and also help if they are experiencing depression.

So perhaps having a month to point out what good things are happening in your day can be a great way to start teaching your little one the lesson of being grateful.

IMG_3868There are many ways that people have done this.  We wanted to bring up just one this year and we’ll do more in the future to come! The Thankful Tree! This is a simple craft that requires some craft paper, scissors, and tape.

 

Gather your things:

  • This image above required the background to have (6) pieces of blue construction paper and (3) pieces of green.
  • The tree can be made up of one or two pieces of brown construction paper that were cut and taped together.
  • The leaves and sun were also made of construction paper, cut from a variety of colors.
  • You can also see that there are foam leaves on the example above. You can get them from a craft section this time of year, but make sure you get the kind you can write on, and it is also helpful if they have the sticky back.
  • You will also need tape and glue.
Tape the nine pieces of construction paper together three across and three down.  (6) blue and (3) green
Tape the nine pieces of construction paper together three across and three down. (6) blue and (3) green

Now get creative!

Let your kiddos help you to tape the background pieces together.  There will be three pieces taped together across and down, running lengthwise.  You will end up having a nine piece panel background that looks like a vertical rectangle.

DSC_5265Then start to make your tree.  I cut (1) piece of brown construction paper in half vertically.  then I placed the two short ends together and drew a tree trunk on it.  Afterwards, I let the kids cut out the trunk.  With the left over scraps, the girls cut thin strips for the branches.

DSC_5271Now you and the kids can glue down your tree trunk onto the background.  Remember to give some spacing between the branches for your leaves.

They can also cut out pieces to make a sun, clouds, flowers, grass at the bottom of the tree, or anything else their minds can come up with!

I cut out the leaves by layering four pieces of paper together, and then proceeded to make a simple leaf pattern.  I store them in a large ziplock bag, along with a pen and glue stick to we can add our leaves each day.  Sometimes there are days where we add a lot of leaves.

Now find a spot to hang up your tree and get ready to start posting your leaves each day!

Grateful Leaves

DSC_5279This part is where you start to see the craft come together, and many times you will be surprised what your kids might say.  Sometimes you may not like what they are, or wish that it was something bigger, but please don’t say anything discouraging.  You want them to willingly participate, and enjoy the process.  Also, it’s alright to be thankful for things you might not think are a big deal.  In his or her mind, small things can be BIG!  

You can leave up this tree until the end of the month or the end of the year. We left our tree up last year till the end of the year, and it was incredible how full it got, and really helped to make the holidays even more special.  IMG_3880

We hope that this craft is one that you will enjoy doing with your kids. We wish you the very happiest of November blessings Discover! Friends! Happy crafting!

For more Thankful Tree examples check out Discover! Children’s Museum Pinterest Thankful Tree board.