Thanksgiving History and Traditions

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving, this year? Beyond the usual, feast and family reunions, try sharing a few special historical facts and popular fall holiday traditions with your kid. You might find that there is a ton for your kids to learn when it comes to giving thanks and observing this annual American holiday!

Photo by Steven Depolo

Photo by Steven Depolo

History

Throughout history, Native American tribes have held ceremonies to pay their gratitude for successful harvests through the season. And, similarly, the English people who comprised the settlement at Plymouth   ha much to rejoice over when they began settling into the New World. When these Pilgrims first arrived to the New World, they brought new traditions and practices to the modern American Thanksgiving story.

Traditions

Gathering

This is the day when family takes the spotlight, where more than 50 million people travels across the states in America on the road or through the sky to visit their families. Family reunites to share an appreciation for the meaningful and comforting ties with their loved ones.

Food

A family reunion is not complete with a feast! The classic menu items for this particularly holiday include turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry, and root vegetables, which are all based on New England fall harvests. However, as the tradition spreads, people look for local items that are both more accessible and suitable for local’s taste.

Photo by tinyfroglet

Photo by tinyfroglet

Wishbone

As you and your family gobble up your delicious meal, you will find that a forked bone, located at the base of the neck of your turkey is visually and physically present. This is the wishbone. In the past, Europeans believed that the wishbone could predict the weather. Nowadays, people believed that if you compete with another person in a game of tug-o-war, whoever breaks off a larger section of the bone is granted a wish.

Volunteer

Giving back to the community is the most meaningful way to express your gratitude and appreciation for the blessings you are given throughout this year. Help a local church or homeless shelter to provide a bit of warmth and comfort for the less unfortunate.

Apart from all the life-long lessons you can teach your kid during this holiday season, be sure to also have lots of fun and enjoy the annual celebration!

Thanksgiving Themed Crafts for Fall

How do you teach your children to give thanks? Celebrated annually throughout the United States on the last Thursday of November, the Thanksgiving holiday provides families across the nation with copious amounts of time to spend together and the opportunity to celebrate the things that they hold most dear. While it is important to teach children the historical significance of this day, parents and educators might also benefit from planning for festive fall crafts like the ones featured here to continue in the long tradition of making learning interactive and engaging.

PHOTO BY: timlewisnm

PHOTO BY: timlewisnm

Thanksgiving Wreath – create a leaf template and allow your kids to cut out various pieces using fall colored construction paper in shades of deep orange, brown, red, and yellow. Upon each leaf, have them write something that they are most thankful for having in their lives. Once they have finished creating the leaves, affix each paper leaf to a wire base which will form your wreath. This can be a helpful reminder to your kids, about the things that they should not take for granted. As a similar alternative craft, consider attaching your thanksgiving leaves to a handcrafted tree.

Pinecone Turkey – A true symbol of the thanksgiving season, the iconic American turkey can help teach your kids about the spirit of understanding and camaraderie that marks this day in history. After all, the tale of the first thanksgiving often includes the sharing of a turkey meal. While kids might not be ready to help prepare your family’s Thanksgiving Day entree, they can create a version of their own using another fall symbol, the pinecone. Have them tilt the pinecone on its side and attach colorful feathers to the larger end. On the more tapered side, create a fun and festive face for your little gobbler.

Thanksgiving Hats – When teaching your kids about the history between the pilgrims and Native American who shared the first Thanksgiving meal, consider creating hat templates for your little learners to create their own unique take on a pilgrim’s hat or Native American headdress. Pull from a large array of crafting supplies or keep it simple with basics like colored construction paper, glue, and other common household arts supplies. Kids can even use the creative costume pieces to reenact scenes from the first Thanksgiving with friends, family, or classmates.

Celebrate Summer’s Arrival with Your Kids

It can sometimes be difficult to determine when spring ends and summer begins. Some people like to mark the beginning of summer by when school lets out for break, when the days become extremely long or even when the temperature rises to an extreme heat. These may all be signs that summer is coming quickly; however, in actuality, the start of this hot season is marked by a phenomenon called the Summer Solstice.

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Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice, or midsummer, occurs every year, in the Northern Hemisphere, between June 20th and 22nd. This year, the Summer Solstice occurred on June 21st and was the longest period of daylight for the year.  The cause of the midsummer has to do with the axial tilt of the earth and occurs when the Earth has reached its maximum tilt towards the sun. Because of the Earth’s tilt, the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons. On this day, the Northern Hemisphere will receive the longest amount of daylight of the year, while the Southern Hemisphere will receive the shortest amount of daylight. The Summer Solstice is the planet’s indication to us that summer has begun and now that the season is officially here, it’s time to plan some awesome summer activities with your child!

Summer Activities with the Kids

Now that school is out and the days feel a little bit longer, there is plenty of time to find fun activities to do with your kid. Since it is so warm and sunny out, this season is a great time to get your child outside to embark on some great adventures. Try a few of these activities to help celebrate the Summer Solstice and the months of fun to come!

Go Swimming

Whether you live near an ocean, a lake, or even just a swimming pool, summer is a great time to put on a bathing suit and splash in the water. Before your family heads to the water, make sure to read up on our swimming safety tips to keep your kids safe at the pool. Not only is swimming is great exercise for your kid, but it will also help them keep cool and calm during these hot summer days!

Barbeques

With the weather being so warm and sunny, you won’t spend all day cooking in a stuffy kitchen. This season is a great time to break out the BBQ and grill up some food with friends and family. Whether you grill in the backyard or at a nearby park or beach, have your kids help you with some of the preparation and let them invite their friends over for summer barbeque. Having friends near will keep your kids busy while you cook and let them burn some energy running around outside!

Arts n’ Crafts

Find some cool arts n’ crafts ideas online and set up a craft station outside in the yard. You can help your child make a beautiful birdhouse, or simple let them use their imagination to create a masterpiece of their choosing. Also, if you’re looking for some Fourth of July crafts, check out our blog for ideas.  By being outside and making fun crafts, your child can enjoy the warm summer season while also being able to express some creativity.

Go Camping

Instead of doing an expensive resort or theme-park vacation with your little one, take the whole family on a camping trip instead. Spending time with nature and sleeping outdoors will help your child appreciate their surroundings and allow them to enjoy the wonderful summer season. You can take them on easy hikes around the campsite and enjoy a cozy campfire at night that they will be sure to remember!

Summer Solstice has come and gone, which means summer is finally here! This season won’t last forever, so be sure to make the most of it with your child by enjoying some of these great summer activities that they won’t forget.

Create a Paper Chain American Flag

Friday, June 14th we celebrate Flag Day. Flag Day can be celebrated in a variety of different ways ranging from barbecues to parades and even crafts. So for this Flag Day, celebrate it with your kids by creating a Paper Chain American Flag of your own!

Final

 

Materials

-scissors

-stapler

-tape or string

-red, white, and blue construction paper

Supplies

Instructions

 

 

  1. Cut each piece of paper crosswise into several 1-inch strips. The number of strips you will need varies depending on the size of your flag. For a large flag, like the one pictured above, you will need 20 blue strips, 32 white strips, and 46 red strips.

Strips

  1. Loop the strips around each other to create a chain. As seen in the example picture, you will need 4 blue chains that each have 5 loops, 2 white chains and 2 red chains that have 9 loops each, and 2 red chains and 1 white chain that are 14 loops long.
  1. Using a staple, connect the chains together in the order shown above, alternating between vertical and horizontal.

 Stapled

  1. Once the flag is completely assembled, use tape or string to hang it on the wall.

 

Try this fun craft with your kids and feel free to create other fun patterns and designs! Not only will your kids have something to be proud of after this project, but they will also have a fun family memory. Be sure to get in the spirit of Flag Day with this great craft!

Fun Springtime Outdoor Activities

Spring has sprung, which means it is time for everyone to come out of their winter-induced cocoons and enjoy the outdoors. Why stay inside when it is finally sunny and warm outside? And there is no better way to enjoy the outdoors than to do so with friends. Here are some ideas for fun outdoor spring time activities you can do with your friends.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Spring means that America’s past time begins, as baseball teams around the country take the field. Play a pickup baseball or softball game with some friends at a local baseball diamond, or maybe go out to a local major or minor league baseball game. Eat some peanuts and cracker jacks as you sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch.

Show off your Green Thumb

With the cold and snow gone, the greenery of plants is returning. So why not add to that greenery and plant a garden? Find a small patch in your yard and pick out some vegetables and other plants to grow. Tend to the plants for a few weeks, and you will eventually have beautiful plants and delicious fresh vegetables to eat.

Go Fly a Kite

As soon as you see the trees start to sway in the wind, go to a local field or beach and try to launch your kite. Running around while trying to keep the kite up is a great way to be active. Have a contest to see who can keep up their kite the longest. Try to get your kite to do tricks. It is a great, cheap springtime activity.

Pack up your Picnic Basket

With the nice weather of spring, there’s no reason to eat inside. Pack a picnic to take to a park or the beach and eat with your friends outdoors. Bring some lawn or beach games to play, such as horseshoes or bocce ball, to top off the meal.

Go Swimming

Whether you go swimming in the ocean, a lake, or a local pool, swimming is a great activity to do with your friends. You can play fun water games such as Marco Polo or Colors, or splash around in the waves if at a beach or larger lake. When you are tired of swimming around, you can relax in the warm sun and talk with your friends – just be sure to wear a lot of sunscreen.

Those are just a few things you can do with your friends and family in the nice spring weather. Are you planning on going to a ballgame or having a picnic, or something else from this list? Or do you have any other fun spring activities planned?

Curbing Your Family’s Carbon Footprint

When going about our day to day activities, it can be easy to forget that each and every one of your actions can have a larger affect on the state of our environment. Simple acts like driving a car each day to the decisions you make while shopping can ripple out and impact the future of our larger global community. While your kids are still young, encourage them to be more aware of some simple tips for curbing their overall carbon footprint. You will be surprised by how the littlest changes in your family’s outlook can start to evoke changes in everyone’s routine.

Environmental concerns are on the rise as parents have become increasingly worried about the world their kids will soon in inherit. To do your part to combat negative environmental changes, provide your kids with the information they need to start making conscious efforts in their daily lives to create change. For example, a handful of elementary schools in California’s Redondo Beach Unified School District recently began promoting a program that encourages kids to walk to school one day a week as part of a new “Walking school bus.” On that day kids refrain from riding the bus and are instead picked up by parent volunteers that organize for supervised groups of kids to walk to school together. While this might not be the most practical means for you to get your kids thinking more “green,” here are a few easy habits you can teach your family to help do their part for the environment.

– Turning off and unplugging electronic devices when they are not in use.

– Walking or biking to local destinations.

– Only run your washer & dryer at capacity and when possible,  use cold water.

– Taking shorter showers.

– Buying energy efficient appliances.

– Start regularly using reusable shopping bags

– Consider buying locally grown and organic foods.

– Teaching them the basics of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

There are so many ways for you and your family to act more “green” and do your part in offsetting our generation’s carbon footprint. Do your kids practice any helpful habits like these? Remind them that changes like these come easy when families and communities work together. And, for fun activities and crafts that can help teach kids the importance of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling, stop by JumpStart’s Pinterest, today!

Easy Crafts for Kids: Modeling Dough

Creating crafts with kids is a great way to foster their creativity and allow them to express themselves in unique and insightful ways. Both parents and educators would agree that crafts can be an extremely helpful tool for making learning a fun and more memorable experience for kids.

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More specifically, projects like the one below that involve creating a non toxic and completely all-natural type of modeling dough are extremely versatile and can be applied to a number of simple crafts or educational projects. At the least, being able to customize and design their own creation could help any kid avoid falling into the traps of boredom. Next time you find yourself in a pinch for a fun activity, consider using the following recipe for salt dough to get your kids started on a project of their very own.

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Ingredients:
2 cups of flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Directions:
1. Mix dry ingredients (salt and flour) thoroughly in a large bowl
2. Slowly stir in water
3. When dough begins to form, begin to knead by hand on a flat surface
4. Divide dough for kids and allow them to start sculpting. For ornaments, flour a flat surface and roll out dough into a flat sheet to cut out shapes.
5. When salt dough sculptures are complete, bake them at 200 degrees, until dough is firm. Time will depend on the size of the figurine.
6. Let dough cool and then paint

Salt dough projects come in all shapes and forms, including fun activities like creating hand or foot print molds or even small figurine sculptures of people, animals, or objects. Playing with modeling clays like this can even help the youngest of learners refine simple motor skills and strengths. For other educational pursuits, salt dough sculptures can even be a great visual example to accompany reports or other school projects.