Decorating For Thanksgiving

Ready for this week? Are you like so many of us and you have been busy today cleaning up and getting ready for the big week? Need some fun and inexpensive ideas for those last touches? Let us help!

Decorating for Thanksgiving adds an element of warmth and fun to your home. The best thing is you don’t have to go overboard or put a lot of time or effort into this. Use a few of the suggestions below, add some fall colored throw pillows or blankets to your couch, light a pumpkin scented candle and your whole house will have that special Thanksgiving feel to it.

Yard Display
Decorate the front yard with a wooden scarecrow, turkey or sign. For a little color, plant a few mums, either in the ground, or in pots and planters.

Mantle Display
The mantle over your fire place is the perfect place to decorate for Thanksgiving . For a simple display, arrange some pumpkins or decorative gourds on the mantle along with a few candles. A fall garland or wreath is a nice touch above the mantle.

Fall Flower Arrangement
Stop by your local florist for some flowers in yellow or orange. Arrange them in a vase along with some greenery.

Pumpkins and Corn
You can make a beautiful fall arrangement by setting out some miniature pumpkins and ears of corn. Look for yellow and purple varieties of corn for an authentic Thanksgiving feel. Scatter them across your dining table, or arrange them in a bowl for a nice centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Wreath
Purchase or make a simple grapevine wreath and decorate it with fall leaves and miniature pumpkins. Add a nice bow and hang it on the front door. A Thanksgiving wreath is a great way to welcome your guests in.

Display Kids Artwork
Not only will your home be beautifully decorated, but you’ll be building your children’s self-esteem at the same time. Buy a few inexpensive frames and set them out or hang them on the wall. This is of course also a great way to display your child’s artwork year round.

The First Thanksgiving
There are quite a few ways to incorporate the first Thanksgiving in your decorations. Create a small scale version of this special occasion by setting out a few figurines of pilgrims and Native Americans. Complete the scene with a small table, some turkeys and miniature trees to show that the first Thanksgiving took place outside.

It’s Fall! Get Outside! by Cindy Rushton

Cindy2015It is Fall! Every day, I wake up to something new and different in my yard. I expect that the next few weeks hold many precious touches straight from the hand of the Creator, just for us…AND, you can call it school!

Yep! Talk about a great way to teach science and nature study to your little ones–just get outside!

Science is SO easy to bring into our homeschools. The first thing that we implemented toward nature study in a more natural and easy manner was simply getting out of doors each day!  Sound simple?  It is really profound!

This was a simple idea that I gleaned from Charlotte Mason.  Charlotte Mason, an educator of the late 1800’s, advocated short lessons finished early into the day just so that the children could have plenty of time out-of-doors.  She felt that children needed several hours each and every day just to do the things that simply cannot be done inside—explore, climb trees and mountains, exercise, hike, run, jump rocks, watch clouds, learn about weather, collect nature (rocks, flowers, leaves…), sing, shout, paint, watch animals, hunt tracks, learn natural geography, so on!  Miss Mason won my heart as she shared in her books that every opportunity should be seized to get out of doors, regardless of the time of year or the weather. She even felt that meals and tea should be taken outside as much as possible.  A woman after my heart!

This time out of doors was not limited to the children, though.  Charlotte recommended that the parents and teachers take a blanket outside along with a project to do (needlework, books, writing, and sketchbooks…) while the children explored around them.  She wanted for this time of the day to be a leisurely time for children and adults.  This time was not meant for lectures or lessons per say—the glorious answer for those of us with limited knowledge and understanding!  Rather, this time was meant for the children to have access to mom as they leisurely brought back their finds or described the intricate details of what they saw outside.  The focus was to be simple recognition of nature all throughout the year in all different seasons, to learn the life cycle of plants and animals informally as they go along, and to grow in appreciation and attentiveness to the tiny details of God’s creation.  These ideas slowly began to teach me a different way to teach my children about nature and science.  They also encouraged me to become a “student” again!

Weekly Nature Walk…

One of the first things that intrigued me was Miss Mason’s idea of having a weekly nature walk.  In the PNEU (Parent’s National Education Union) schools set up by Charlotte Mason, the students were taken each week on a nature walk.  I have to be honest here as I share with you that while this idea intrigued me, it also intimidated me!  We have always been intensely busy people.  I could not figure any way to take more time for one more thing…well, until…

I ran across a book by Anna Comstock.  She writes in her book Handbook of Nature Study about what she called a field excursion (try that one for your record keeping!),

“It is a mistake to think that a half day is necessary for a field lesson, since a very efficient field trip may be made during the ten or fifteen minutes at recess.”

This was the key!  There was an answer to major hindrance!  In the busyness of our daily lives, I was the very one to put off nature walks and hikes because I simply did not always have a whole afternoon to devote to nature study each week.  Not to mention, we live in the Southern United States where HEAT and HUMIDITY can stifle out any hope of a nature walk if you are as wimpy as I am!  But, comfort of all comfort—nature walks can be just as simple or just as complex as we have time and energy for!  They can take place at any time of the day and they do not have to take all day to instill the lessons that they provide.  Yes, even I could do this!

The nature walk is meant to be leisurely.  Again, it is not a time for lectures or lessons by the parent.  Rather, it is a time for parents and children to break away from the “old-grind” to get out in God’s beautiful world.  Want a peek into how this looked in our home? On a typical nature walk, we only took 20 minutes to walk down the road and collect some thing—one day we found Queen Anne’s Lace and Poison Hemlock.  We brought them back home, discussing and comparing them all the way home.  At home, I brought out my Handbook of Nature Studies while they were looking at the two flowers.  I simply asked them to notice more carefully the differences such as the leaves on the stems…what made them look like lace from afar…the roots…and the tiny flowers, which make up the entire cluster.  We read about this gorgeous “weed” and were thankful that it was brought to America from Europe!

Although this particular nature walk resulted in a lesson, lessons are not necessary.  In fact, ours only resulted from our quest for more knowledge.  I know I shared above about my complete ignorance in the area of nature.  This is actually all for the best.  It limits my lectures and my explanations while teaching the children how mom finds out what she wants to know—I look it up!  You know it is really much, much better since my lack of knowledge forces me to disciple my children in how to learn as we go along!

See how easy a nature walk can be? Just get outside. Take a walk. Watch how much they learn. Well, watch how much YOU learn as well. Easy. Effective!

Nature Notebooks!

Inevitably, someone is thinking, “But, Cindy, this is a great idea, but how do we know that they are learning?” “How do we document their learning?”

What a perfect time of the year to take school outside. That is obvious. However, this is also the perfect time to begin Nature Notebooks! Not only will you have an abundance of treasures awaiting your exploration, but these are perfect days to try something fresh. Ready? Let me help…

Chances are you already have many things that could be included in a Science Notebook around your home. Look for those “goodies” that do not have their own special place and add them to your Science Notebooks. This is the perfect opportunity to develop “a place” for those “goodies” while developing a nice product for displaying all the growing knowledge of nature all while your children are keeping special memorabilia! One of the things that I like about using supplies intended for scrapbooking is that there are so many products that enable us to keep bulky materials safely inside of our notebooks. Not to mention, scrapbooking makes EVERY notebook so much cuter!  And…to imagine that we call this “school!”

Want some ideas of things to include in your notebooks???

· Sketches…Don’t forget to include date, time, place, Latin name, and common name. Oh! Don’t forget to document where you found it.

· Snapshots…Don’t forget to journal about your snapshot!

· Pressed flowers, leaves, feathers, butterflies, etc.

· Glossary of terms studied…

· Artwork… (Nature art, original drawings, coloring pages…)

· Diagrams…

· Poetry…

· Information about discoveries…

· Lists of new findings…

· Handouts from trips…

· Narrations from trips, outings, hikes, nature walks, books read about nature or scientists/naturalists…

· Timeline…Mark your excursions, inventions, famous men and women, so on!

· Instruction Sheets on “How to Care for…” or “How to Collect…” etc.

· Booklets…

· Project data…

· Bible verses…

· Journal entries…

· Details from outings…

· Favorite quotes about nature…

· Reading list…

· Research…

· Reports…

· Essays…

· Science experiment logs…

· Notes from any Science study…

You can add a lot of life to your Science Notebooks with special supplies you find along the way! I have found that the little touches have made our notebooks so much more fun and in the process hooked my children.

Encourage your children to use die-cuts, frames, stencils, shapes, and edgings galore to make their notebooks fun and beautiful! My children now beg each weekend to work on our binders/scrapbooks. We have taken these simple skills into other projects for our Science studies such as creating books or booklets…making cards with pressed flowers, sketches, poetry and Scripture verses…and displaying our collections. The key is to just have fun and enjoy making your notebooks all yours! There is not a “right” way or a “wrong” way to notebook. You can enjoy! AND…what a super time to get started.

Well, what do you think?

Got “fall fever?” Ready to get outside to soak up the beauty and fresh air? This is the perfect time to make up any excuse to get outside. But, what better excuse than getting outside for a “school lesson” as we enjoy this gorgeous fall? The perfect excuse! J

Get outside! It is Fall!

Happy Homeschooling

Cindy2015Need more help? Don’t miss Cindy’s book, Nature Study the Easy Way! In Nature Study the Easy Way, Cindy takes you by the hand and teaches everything that we need to teach science the easy way. Best news!  Nature Study the Easy Way is half off! Use our Coupon Code “CELEBRATE” to save 50% off of your purchase of our book! PLUS! Stock up on anything else you would like in our eStore as well!! Grab your copy at this link: CLICK HERE!

Teaching Your Kids to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach your kids about being thankful. Here are some ideas to teach your children how to appreciate the blessings in their lives.

Giving Thanks Placemats
The goal of this craft is to create a collage filled with drawings and pictures of all the things your children are thankful for. Cut photos from magazines, or print some photos from your computer. Older children can write captions under the photos or draw their own. Be sure to put the child’s name and the year on it.

If you make this collage from two standard letter size pieces of construction paper taped side-by-side, you can take the completed collage to a copy shop when you’re done and have it laminated. It then becomes a placemat that you can use every Thanksgiving for years to come.

Thankful Paper Chain
Another way to remind your children of their blessings is to create a paper chain. This is similar to a regular paper chain – where you cut strips of paper and connect them together as loops, but there’s one difference. You write on the strips of paper before you connect them. Write the things you are thankful for with your children. For instance, “Grandma plays games with me” or “My teacher is nice.” The fun part of this activity is to make the chain as long as possible – showing all your blessings. If you’d like to keep this up during Christmas, just use green and white paper.

Thanksgiving Tree
This is another take on the idea above and works really well if you have several kids in the family. Get each child to trace their hand on yellow, red, or brown construction paper. Cut out the hand shapes and write (or have the child write) what they are thankful for on the hand shape. Cut a tree trunk shape out of brown construction paper. Glue it on a large piece of poster board. Let the kids add their hand shapes as leaves above the tree trunk, turning it into a beautiful fall colored tree.

Thankful Book

This idea is similar to the others, except it’s more of a keepsake. Purchase a photo album or scrapbook kit and make a “blessings” theme. Add photos of loved ones, including stories about why they are special to you. Also, include pages of your favorite foods, favorite stories, favorite movies and all the other things that make you happy. Any time your kids feel down, you can open your blessing book to see all the reasons you have to be happy – and thankful for the blessings in your life.

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Party

Ready for Thanksgiving? Got a big week ahead? Wondering what to do TODAY to get ready and make things as easy as possible? Well, let me help. Let’s plan the perfect Thanksgiving fellowship. Ready? Let’s dig in…

Start Planning Early
Nothing can spoil a Thanksgiving party more than a burned-out hostess. So, be sure to start planning your party well in advance, make a master list of what needs to be done and when, and start cleaning and preparing ahead of time. Purchase non-perishable items the week before your event. Don’t forget to buy the turkey early as well. It will take several days to thaw in the fridge. If you have room in your freezer, you can purchase the turkey and other frozen items weeks ahead of time.

Delegate the Turkey
A great way to entertain the men is to put them in charge of the turkey. This may be untraditional to some, but in many areas of the country, the men are in charge of deep-frying the turkey. There’s nothing quite as entertaining as watching a group of men standing around a vat of boiling peanut oil, discussing the turkey. Plus, it gives you more freedom to enjoy the party.

Plan activities
Board games are always fun for kids and adults. Get everyone laughing with the newest game. Or buy a DVD-style game like Scene-It and gather around the TV for some trivia. Of course old family favorites would be a bit hit as well. Dust off that old edition of Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly and get everyone playing.

Just for the Kids
Set up a craft table for the kids. Set out coloring pages (if you can get some Thanksgiving ones, that would be great). You can find lots of coloring pages online. Just print a few of them for each child.  That should keep them busy while you prepare the rest of the food.

Lay out pieces of orange, brown, and yellow construction paper and show the kids how to make a turkey. Or have the kids make pilgrim hats out of black and white construction paper.

For the Adults
One of the staples of Thanksgiving is football. Oftentimes the men gather in the living room to watch the game. One way to keep the party lively is to give them a football and send them outside to toss it around during commercial breaks. This can really get the men talking and having a great time. And, ladies – don’t be shy. Jump right in there with them.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece – Create Something Unique

Your centerpiece is the main decoration on your Thanksgiving table. Make it special with these ideas. Of course these decorations will also look stunning if you set them on a counter or the mantle over the fire place.

Fall Vegetables
Begin with a pumpkin and gourds. Loosely arrange them on the table or mantle.  Set a natural-color candle on each side of your display. Finish your free form art center piece by sprinkling colorful fall leaves all over and around your center pieces. Make sure they are not too close to the candles, of course.

Fall Leaves
Simply find a large glass bowl and fill it with beautiful fall leaves. Set a candle on each side of the bowl to showcase the leaves. Then, cut leaf shapes out of construction paper and use them as place cards. Of course you could also press small leaves, and glue them to a plain white place card.

Floral Display of Abundance
Make a dried floral arrangement from fall flowers. Gather some of the plastic sticks that the florists use to hold notecards. Stick them into the floral display, but put photos of the things you are thankful for in them, instead. Or, if you don’t have photos, just write words on notecards and display them in the floral arrangement. Some words you may start with are “family”, “friends”, “food”, “laughter”.

Carve A Pumpkin
Yes, you heard right, carve a pumpkin. Of course you don’t want to go with the traditional jack-o-lantern design here. Instead carve some geometrical designs, or some flowers, leaf-shapes etc. on your hollowed out pumpkin. Add a candle inside the carved pumpkin and light it just before your guests arrive.

Pumpkin Candle Holders
Get some small pumpkins and hollow out enough room on the top of the pumpkin to stick a candle in it. Group of few of these candle holders together for a festive center piece. Finish your candle arrangement with a few pieces of native corn placed around your pumpkin candle holders. Give the arrangement more dimension by using different size pumpkins and candles. Use some scented candles to give your room that Holiday smell.

Are you feeling inspired yet by all these ideas? Dig through your Thanksgiving supplies or take a stroll through your local craft store and you will come up with your own versions of these suggestions, or even a creation all of your own.