The Thankful Tree, Or : A Cautionary Toddler Crafting Tale


Thankful Tree

Have you ever had an idea in your head for a fun crafting activity to do with your kids, and your idea looks nowhere close to reality when you’re done? I’ve had a string of those activities recently. Exhibit A: Soap Monsters. We got a craft book at the library and one of the pages was about “Soap Monsters,” where you could microwave a bar of soap and it would bubble out and harden into a shape and then you could proceed to decorate it. I’ll just leave a picture right here to show you how that went:
Craft Book vs. Reality
Craft Book vs. Reality

My kitchen smelled like soap and smoke and I’m surprised our house didn’t catch on fire after that little experiment.

The second event in recent memory was an attempt to capitalize on the Thanksgiving season and cultivate gratefulness in my 3-year-old (and start a new family tradition). Enter: The Thankful Tree. It was simple enough: I had heard this suggestion before and it sounded like a cute, simple craft (or so I thought). All the supplies can be purchased at Target. You need: butcher paper, leaves (you could easily cut some out yourself, but I found felt ones on clearance in the craft section), a sharpie marker, and painter’s tape:

Thankful tree Supplies
Thankful Tree Supplies

The idea is to roll out a large piece of paper, draw a tree, hang it up on a wall in your house and then write on a leaf something you are thankful for each day until Thanksgiving, then tape the leaf to the tree.

It started out happily enough. I asked my 3-year-old, H, “Do you want to make a thankful tree for all we are thankful for?” H, enthusiastically: “yeah!”

I then rolled out the paper onto our dining table, and the you-know-what promptly hit the fan. “I want to cut it!,” “I want to draw it!,” “DONT HANG IT UP.” All the while I was rather impatiently saying, “Let mommy draw it so it actually looks like a tree” “Let me cut in a straight line” and “STOP WHINING. WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE THANKFUL!” It was ugly.

Thankful Tree Fail | Denver Metro Moms Blog

Tears ensued. Another coffee cup was poured.

In my efforts to have everything look just so, I completely missed the heart behind the activity. My pinterest-perfect image in my head looked nothing like reality. In fact, it was quite humorous looking back on it. The yelling mom and kid doing an activity to help us be thankful.

And while it was not my finest hour, I still didn’t want to abandon ship on the whole Thankful Tree idea. When we were cuddling on the couch after the battle, we talked about what it meant to be thankful, and H said “I’m thankful for doing experiments with you, Mommy.” Heart melted. Kids are so forgiving, aren’t they?

Looking back on it, I probably would have just made the tree alone for now until H and his sister are a little older, or I would have him make a mini one beside me. Next year, for sure.

Our routine is to write on a leaf each night and tape it to the tree. They range from the sweet to the silly, and I love seeing what he comes up with each day.


So I would totally suggest you do the Thankful Tree in these remaining days leading up to Thanksgiving (but make sure you heed my cautionary tale!).

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Allie is a Denver transplant from the frozen tundra known as Wisconsin. She and her husband have loved building a life here in the Metro area and are the parents to two great kids: a sweet and rambunctious toddler boy and newborn baby daughter. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Education and English/Language Arts, she is passionate about teaching kids to love learning (and especially books!). She's a self-proclaimed "bookworm" and is set to launch Stacks and Shelves- a blog with all sorts of bookish recommendations in the coming months. Aside from mothering, Allie is involved with her awesome church, loves girls' nights and iced coffee, and binge watching Netflix with her husband after the parenting torture known as the bedtime routine commences for the evening. Twitter: @allierasmussen Instagram: @allierasmussen1


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