Thanksgiving Picture Books for Children.


There are so many things to be thankful for. I’m realizing just how quickly the days, weeks, and months pass, especially when you’re raising a kid (or kids!). I try to remember to look to my toddler to slow me down. My favorite, favorite time of day is bedtime when I’m trying to settle her. She always asks me to look out the window. I’ll admit, there are days that I get annoyed by this. I feel so guilty typing that, but it’s true. I’m exhausted, frustrated and I’ve been with her ALL DAY (I’m an only parent). I’ve missed some deadlines for work or didn’t get to the laundry I intended to do. I’m spent and I just want her to sleep already. But then she says, “I see a crescent moon. What does mommy see?” and I melt. Because she genuinely wants to know what I see and because I’m her world. And there will be a day when I’m a much smaller piece of her world.

So it’s November and a month for thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I like it more than Christmas. I like it because I have really fabulous memories of my loud family talking over one another while I gnawed on a turkey leg in just my undershirt so I didn’t get my dress dirty. Family means the world to me – both my biological and chosen. The people we surround ourselves with are everything. I want my daughter to have these memories and I want her to be thankful for what she has, because (even if, as a parent I want her to have so much more) she has a lot.

I’m not sure if this intro is even completely relevant, but it is why I want to children’s books that teach gratitude and kindness. That teach readers to be thankful and appreciative for what you have and who you are.

the-big-orange-splotMy first choice is The Big Orange Splot. I have a lesson plan post in the works dedicated to this book, because I love it so much. It might be an odd or unassuming choice, but I believe that it teaches the reader to embrace our individuality. To appreciate what makes us unique – which is an incredibly important and (in my opinion) undervalued lesson and also an act of kindness. It’s at the heart of what I want for my daughter. I want her to ooze her individuality and to be surrounded by people who love, accept and embrace her for that. Families are made up of all different ‘types’ and we accept, support and love one another. It’s a valuable lesson to accept people for who they are and how they express themselves. It’s also important to let children know that they are always free to be who they are.


The Giving Tree. I mean, come on, how could I not put this on the list! It’s a book that still makes me cry. I recently read a parenting article about carrying our kids (a debate about when is ‘too old’) and the author said to her child, “you’ll never be to old for me to carry you, just to big.” I love that. It’s such a beautiful thought and in a weird way it reminded me of The Giving Tree. A classic for children and adults.


The Thankful Book. I love Todd Parr for his other stories, so I was very happy to stumble on the this children’s book. One of the first books I purchased for my daughter (before she was born) was The Family Book. His illustrations are simple, colorful and fun and his messages are that of kindness and acceptance. It’s a wonderful Thanksgiving choice for your little pre-schooler.


An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton. Aside from it’s whimsical illustrations (what initially appealed to me) this book breaks the act of being thankful down in a very concrete way. There are so many wonderful tiny moments in this book, I don’t know where to begin! Clayton mentionsbeing grateful for “balls to kick and kites to fly and places to go when you want to cry”. But my favorite quotation reads, “It’s so easy we see these things everyday to forget to say thank you in every way.” This sentiment ties into ending each night with acknowledging the moon and stars and trees with my daughter, as we look out the window together.


Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen & Kristina Swarner is an uplifting story that encourages readers to see the good in everyone. It’s a refreshing book reminding children of the kindness in the world and within themselves. Something about this book really speaks to me. Maybe it’s negativity is so often highlighted in the media and emphasis is not placed on the ‘good people’. Whatever it is, it’s a must read for families who want to pause and take in the kindness.

What are YOUR favorite books for giving thanks. I want to know!


Crafty Monday: Wire Trees

(c) 2015 Creative and Curious

Wire trees are one of my favorite art projects. I love seeing the different ideas that students come up with once I’ve given them the foundation. This project works great for both children and adults.

Here is what you will need:

  • Wire – Jewelry or floral wire will both work. I’ve found 26 gauge to be the easiest to work with. Floral wire is cheaper, but jewelry wire is prettier!
  • Buttons or beads – for your leaves/flowers.
  • Anything for a base – we’ve used spools, wood pieces, rocks, etc.

IMG_3235First, cut about 10 strips of wire around 24 ” each.

Select 10 beads or buttons to be used as your flowers/leaves. You can always do more than 10 branches, of course. But this is a pretty manageable number for a class.

To add the beads, fold one piece of wire in half and thread your bead through the open end, putting both ends through (see below). If you’re using a button, only go through two of the four holes.


Thread the wire through until about 2-3 inches is hanging out and begin to twist – holding the wire tightly in your one hand and twisting the bead with the other. You will feel it start to tighten. Repeat this step for all of your beads.


Once you have all of your beads threaded, group them into 3’s or 4. These will become your branches.


Twist these groupings together to create your tree, bending the branches however you wish.IMG_3237Lastly, select your base and attach. You can wrap excess wire around a rock, hot glue it into a spool or onto cardboard. Whatever works! We happened to have a lot of wood scraps lying around the art room, so we used mostly them. Here are some student made trees featured in our summer program’s art show – both finished an unfinished.

IMG_1155 You can easily link this art project to literacy, by pairing it with a book such as The Giving Tree and a writing component.

You could also create a tree for a particular season for science or write a math problem adding beads/branches. Lots of fun academic links!