How to Help Storm Victims

Today I am thankful for people who reach out to help those in need after major catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy. I’m a Mississippi girl who spent my entire childhood in Louisiana, so while we in the South were lucky to escape Sandy’s wrath this week, we certainly understand the trauma people experience during such an event.
I’m happy to learn Writers and Readers Reach Out 2012 is recognizing the need to support those closest to home (in addition to sponsoring Make Way Partners). If you’re wondering how you can “reach out” to those who have lost their homes or loved ones from Sandy’s surge, CNN offers a list of ways to help, including links to Charity evaluators like Guidestar and Charity Navigator.
Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place.

Practice Random Kindness

Need one more Thanksgiving idea for the holidays? Try Secret Acts of Kindness!

Write the name of each family member on a separate slip of paper and place them in a bag. Have each family member draw one name of another family member. That is now their secret person to bless.

The next day they are to do something to show that person that they appreciate them; BUT —  this is to be done secretly.

Think simple acts of kindness. Write a note, make a gift, do a chore for that person, etc. Teach your little ones how good it feels to show appreciation for others (without getting credit for it). Who knows — these random acts of kindness may just become a habit.



Happy Poppin’!

We just had to pop over to say, “We are thankful for you!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

From The Cantrell Family


That’s what we’ll be leaving on neighbors’ doorsteps throughout the week. We’ll attach the tag to cardstock and leave it with a packet of microwave popcorn and soda. Whether you do it anonymously with a game of Ding-Dong Ditching, or whether you plan time for short visits with each delivery, take a moment to recognize the special people in your lives this Thanksgiving season.



(This idea was adapted from an original post at You’ll find many great ideas there, as well as giveaways, weekly Table Talk topics to foster family conversations, and much more!)


Create Fun Family Traditions This Thanksgiving Season

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart  


We all know that Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and pie. It’s a time to gather with loved ones and count our many blessings. It’s also the perfect time to create meaningful family traditions. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Thankful Tree
Teach your children the importance of gratitude by creating a unique advent calendar. Throughout Thanksgiving, write a list of blessings for which you are grateful. Include as many loved ones as possible in this challenge. Help children use cookie cutters to trace 30 leaf shapes onto autumn-colored construction paper and carefully cut out the leaves.

Write one item from your “thankful list” on each leaf. Use butcher paper or poster boards to create a brown (child-height) tree trunk, and affix it to your child’s bedroom door, playroom wall, or family area. Children can tape leaves on the top of the tree trunk, one for each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each morning, one leaf can be read as it “falls from the tree.” This will help your children understand the changing seasons and focus on the true meaning of the holidays as they count down to Christmas one “thank-you” at a time.
Pilgrim Voyage

Designate one older child to represent the “New World.” Another child represents the Mayflower. All remaining children represent rocks, waves, or islands as they sit, stand, or lie on the ground between the two. The New World calls out directions to guide the ship (whose eyes are closed). The ship cannot speak or peek as it crosses the dangerous sea to the New World.

Thanksgiving Theater
Does your holiday television display a festive Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or competitive NFL games? This year, considering hosting your own “Funniest Home Videos” contest. Invite guests to bring their most comical clips to share, and be prepared to laugh hysterically.

A Lucky Break

Don’t forget to make a wish! After you’ve deboned the turkey for day-after gumbo or soup, choose two children to each take one end of the wishbone. They close their eyes, make a wish, and pull! Ending up with the larger part of the bone means the wish will come true. This is known as a “lucky break” and supposedly dates all the way back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C.

Jump in big leaf piles, take a family walk while hunting for holiday symbols in your neighborhood, or sit back and play family board games. With a little imagination, you can create very special Thanksgiving traditions for your little ones. Who knows? They might just pass some down to their own kids some day.

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Pumpkins and Gourds

You probably have a few pumpkins or gourds left from Halloween. Add a Hula-hoops and voila’! You’ve got a game that will keep your little ones laughing.

Place the pumpkin(s) or gourd(s) on the ground and let children take turns trying to toss the Hula-hoop around them.

Follow their lead, and adjust the game to fit their short attention spans. When it’s time for a change…adjust easily by making an obstacle course using the hoops and pumpkins/gourds.

Then try pushing the pumpkins/gourds with brooms. Aim for a large box (turned sideways with opening facing the child).

Of course, you can also form a line and pass the pumpkin/gourd under your legs to the person behind you. After passing the pumpkin/gourd, run to the back of the line to get another turn.

Finally — bake a pumpkin pie from scratch, roast pumpkin seeds, or just have fun playing in the goop!

Thankerchiefs? Birds and Beasts? Not Your Typical Thanskgiving Games!

 Need a little circle activity to prompt kids to count their blessings? It might be time to find your Thankerchief! Arrange children in a circle. Pass a “thankerchief” (handkerchief) around the circle, as everyone recites this poem:

Thankerchief, thankerchief, ‘round you go — 
Where you’ll stop, nobody knows.
But when you do, someone must say,
What they are thankful for today.

The player holding the “thankerchief” when the poem ends, must name one thing for which s/he is thankful. This continues until everyone has had a turn.

Or, try the old standby – Bird, Beast, or Fish. 

You have to think fast for this game, which makes it more appropriate for elementary aged kids than preschoolers. Everyone sits facing the leader. The leader points to one player and says either “BIRD,” “BEAST,” or “FISH.”  The chosen player must come up with the name of an animal that fits the category before the leader counts to ten. No repeating! If the player does not respond in time, s/he is out. The game continues until only one player remains.

After a few rounds, it becomes increasingly difficult to think of  an animal that has not already been mentioned!

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”  ~Johannes A. Gaertner

Gobble, Gobble Games


Teachers, do you want to get the giggles flowing in your classrooms this Thanksgiving? Nothing sparks a smile quite like saying the word, “Gobble!”

My children both loved this silly poem when they were younger. Preschoolers can act out the motions as they learn all about the funniest American with feathers.

Funny Bird
(Author Unknown)

A turkey is a funny bird,
Its head goes wobble, wobble,
All it knows is just one word,
“Gobble, gobble, gobble.”

Then once they’ve learned all about turkeys, it’s time to go on a turkey hunt!

Where is Mr. Turkey? 
One player is the farmer and the others are helpers. When the farmer leaves the room, the helpers hide a small toy turkey. The farmer returns with a mission to find the turkey. Helpers give clues by “gobbling” like turkeys. If the farmer is far away from the turkey, the helpers gobble very quietly. As the hunter gets closer to the turkey, the helpers gobble will increase in volume until Mr. Turkey is found!  Super cute!!