Adriana, Home School

Giving Thanks

Having Hope is what gets us through Hardships

For most of us, the holiday season may not look the same this year. Traditions we hold dear to our hearts may not be safe, like gathering together and celebrating the joys of life or sharing in a hug or a good meal. Change isn’t easy. Making hard choices isn’t either, but keeping those we hold dear to us safe is a courageous task. Making sacrifices for the better of humanity and our communities as a whole is admirable. Even though things may not look the same, I hope that in your lives there is so much to be grateful for. During this time of year, there are so many great lessons to be had about life’s blessings and joy.

I always find this time of year so very special for reflecting on life and gratitude. Although adjusting to the time change can be a challenge in our house, I love the natural slowing down of the rhythm of our household as we follow the seasonal rhythm of nature around us. As darkness falls earlier, we all gather for an early dinner and enjoy special family time baking, crafting, playing games and reading together by the coziness of the fire.

Although, certain traditions have been challenged this year, there are some that remain that have become even more precious and cherished; like family and our time shared together. The holiday season is an incredibly special time for reflection. Some traditions that the kids and I have maintained that help us to continue some routine are exploring topics during the fall and winter seasons that help us to reflect on hardship, resilience, gratitude and hope.

We usually start off the school year and fall season by studying the first settlers in our country, the voyage and hardships of the pilgrims and those that traveled out west along with the courage and strength of the Native American tribes in America. Some of our favorite books with great stories and projects are: A Pioneer Thanksgiving and A Pioneer Christmas by Barbara Greenwood, American Kids in History Colonial Days by David C. King, Earth Maker’s Lodge: Native American Folklore, Activities and Foods by E. Barrie Kavasch and North American Indians; The Hands-on Approach to History by Andrew Haslam and Alexandra Parsons.

We also take this time to do a lot of free writing in our journals. Sometimes I give the kids writing prompts asking them to put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters in the stories we are reading, having them reflect on how they may have acted or felt, we sometimes write poetry or short stories based on our readings, they have also written their own creative legends inspired by the Native American legends we’ve read. One of our favorite things to do is make costumes and perform a play, either one the kids have created or a story from our readings. We craft and bake and try out some recipes from the pioneers and the Native Americans; fresh gingerbread, plum pudding, corn husk dolls, making Native American housing and Christmas Pomanders, woven baskets out of raffia, vases out of clay and we’ve even made our own loom and done some weaving!

A project I try to do each year with the kids is to make some ‘Gratitude Buntings.’ We simply cut some twill fabric into triangle or rectangle shapes, make apple prints or paint them and then write something we are grateful for on them. We then attach the buntings to some yarn with a glue gun and hang them either in the dining room or on our mantel throughout the holiday season.

If you’re looking for some great read aloud stories or independent reading for your older children some books we have enjoyed are: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink and Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac.

The books below are also some great read aloud’s for children of all ages.

Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac

Earthmaker, help us to cherish these gifts that surround us and to share our blessings with our brothers and our sisters so that our world is continually blessed.

Native American Blessing

During these uncertain times I have found that we are reminded of our own human resilience as we study those of our ancestors. Human beings have been through this before and we will make it through. The journey may not be easy, but it will make us stronger as individuals and as families. Everything we know and love that is missed, will be cherished even more when the time allows it to return to us. Have Hope, stay safe and strong and may you be surrounded by life’s blessings and gratitude.