A Picture Tribute to Turkeys and Pilgrims

Lest some of you are worried that our latest Thanksgiving didn’t revolve around the actual first feast of thanks and that no turkeys, past or present, were memorialized in construction paper creations…

I present to you…

A whole lot of traditional Thanksgiving ideas from years past.

(The older my kids get – and I get- the less enthusiastic I am about construction paper crafts. These days, if the kids want to cut and glue and color they just have to do it without me – and honestly, they probably like it better that way. We will call this “expressive art” instead of lazy parenting.)

So just as a reminder, NONE of these will ever make it to Pinterest. We’re going for flat out honesty here, whether it’s pretty or not. But everything we did was fun, educational, interactive, and engaged the kids in learning about this different and crucial event in our world and nation’s history… and gave them a reason to use scissors and glue things to each other.

Let’s start with turkeys…

Various Turkey Crafts

2010 – I’m pretty sure those squiggles my son wrote on each feather are the things he is thankful for.



2011 14


2013 1

2013 2

2013 3

2016 – This was the year we got chickens, I think. So besides our flock of turkeys on the wall we had another flock of hens.

2016 1

This one we call “Student Lead Crafting.” I’m pretty sure I had no involvement in this.
2016 2

We also have had a tradition of making a turkey we can stuff with pieces of paper on which we have written things for which we are thankful. My husband’s family did this when he was growing up. They would sit around after dinner, read the slips of paper, and try to guess who in the family had written which “thankful.”

Then they would throw the turkey in the fireplace and watch it burn.

(My husband comes from a large family of mostly boys! I just think boys like to burn things.)

So we started doing that, too. Although most of our turkeys weren’t completely flammable.

2010 – Complete with dinosaur eggs and feet glued on to the turkey. We went through a multi year dinosaur phase with this child. I’m almost convinced that God created the dinosaurs just to give little boys something to obsess over.

2010 1

2011 – I’m pretty sure this one got chucked in the fireplace

2011 13


2012 1

2016 ??????

2016 3

Ok, with that last lovely specimen, let’s move on to pilgrims!

Pilgrims and the Mayflower

2011 – little pilgrim houses
2011 5

The Mayflower –  I bet you didn’t guess that one. 🙂
2011 6

We supplied our pilgrims with hard tack (saltines) and jerky. I’m not sure what the extra stack of orange and yellow pipe cleaners are supposed to be anymore, but they keep showing up in my photos from this homeschool unit.

2011 7

2011 9

2012 8

I remember making a little coif for my daughter, but she refused to wear it. It looks like my son didn’t mind wearing his hat, though. 2011 12

2013 – Another Mayflower

2013 4

The Wampanoag (The Native American who helped the Pilgrims)


2011 1

2011 2

This is my son as a Utahraptor demonstrating how to play a game the Wampanoag children used to play.

2011 3

Wampanoag paper dolls. (I’m pretty sure I got all these ideas and patterns out of the same book from the library.)

2011 4

The Wampanoag and Pilgrims finally meet! And the mystery pipe cleaner bundle shows up again.

2011 15

2012 – Window art. (Now in 2017, I have completely given up decorating the windows of our school/playroom with each season and holiday. Sometimes the kids get festive and make their own crafts to put up, but I just have other more pressing things to do with my time… which may or may not include perusing Facebook.)

2012 3

Resources and “Other”

One year my son made a Dankbarkeits Buch – Gratitude Book. (We used to speak only German at home, which makes us extra weird, and maybe failures in that we gave up after sometime when he was 5 and I had 3 other kids besides him to take care of. I’m ok with it. Some things are awesome (and weird) but it’s ok if you can’t make it work anymore.

2012 2

We’ve also watched the virtual field trips from Plimoth Plantation. They are a little boring for the younger kids, but overall I think they are very, very good. There is one on a 17th century English village and another on a Wampanoag homesite.

More recently we’ve enjoyed watching this little 30 minute film on William Bradford. I feel like this company makes really high quality productions.

And my kids really, really enjoyed watching Squanto. But then my 2 year old, nicknamed Destructo, got his hands on it and our copy of Squanto is no more. Here is the trailer… and although you can find the entire video on Youtube, it’s probably more honorable and virtuous of you to check out a copy at the library. The library is just as free.

There are a billion books about Thanksgiving, but the one we used to learn about the pilgrims and voyage over the sea was called “On the Mayflower.”

2011 10

So hopefully now you don’t fault me for NOT tracing anyone’s hand and making a turkey out of it this year, or dressing anyone up in black and white pilgrim clothing (the pilgrims actually didn’t only wear black and white, just in case you didn’t know that. They didn’t even wear buckled hats. I think we’re confusing them with the leprechauns or something.) We’ll get back to all that fun stuff – and very, very important stuff maybe next year or the year after. But it’s ok to sometimes take a break.

Thanksgiving came, even without a house full of colorful crafts. And it’s awesome that it does that, because sometimes this homeschool mama just would rather not pick up all that construction paper and wipe the glue off of every surface. Again.