Thanksgiving with a Literacy Side

Yeah! The kids are home. The schedule is “between seasons,” so the kids need something to do. Why not let them help you get ready for Thanksgiving?

You may not be ready to hand over an apron, but there are other ways they can help. Here are some ideas that will keep them busy and use materials that you already have around the house. Who knows, they might even become new Thanksgiving traditions.

Thanksgiving Place Cards

thanksgiving place cardsWe started using place cards when my daughter was learning to read.

One year we wrote out the names for her on a piece of paper, and she wrote them on her foam-cutout leaves.

Another year we lined them all up and would read out the name. She had to “pick” the right card from the pile and place it at the correct place.

In our house there was (lots) of glitter involved, but there are lots of ways to create Thanksgiving place cards.

  • Send the kids out to collect leaves, then use a Sharpie to write the name on the leaf.
  • Grab some construction paper and let them trace a cookie cutter.
  • Print copies of a leaf template they can cut out, color, and then write names on.
  • Fold index cards and let the kids decorate the card with drawings or stickers before adding a name.

Cutting paper, tracing, and drawing are great for building fine motor skills. Writing names is good for practicing letters and penmanship. [photo source:]

Make a Hand-drawn Turkey

hand drawn turkey for ThanksgivingWho doesn’t love a turkey drawn from a hand print? Grandma definitely will! Try this twist on a Thanksgiving classic.

  • Tape a piece of white paper to the wall.
  • Hold a hand up about 8 inches from the wall.
  • Shine the flashlight on the hand so it creates a shadow on the paper.
  • Trace the outside edges of the hand print shadow.

Once you’ve got the print transferred onto paper, it is ready for coloring or decoration (feathers anyone?).

The idea is to create a turkey bigger than the size of the hand shadow on the wall. It can be your hand that your child draws, or your child’s hand that you draw – or both! This is an activity where older siblings can be involved (and free you up for older things).

This is a fine motor skill activity, that sneaks in a little bit of science too. Here is a great collection of images illustrating different turkey hands.  [Image source: JibJab Thanksgiving eCard]

Create a Gratitude Collage

gratitude collageGiving thanks is at the heart of this holiday, and this project gives everyone a chance to share what the things for which they’re grateful. Each family member makes his or her own collage or you create a wall mural to which everyone contributes.

  • Cut out images or words from magazines, catalogs, or (parent-approved) websites.
  • Create original drawings by hand or with a drawing program.
  • Use Word Art or hand-draw words that express gratitude.
  • Combine any / all of the above. has templates for Gratitude Collages, from simple card-like presentations to slideshows.

Two Bonus ideas:

  • make the collages the size of a place mat and use them on your Thanksgiving table.
  • Use the initial letters of the word “Thanksgiving” as the foundation for expressing gratitude.

[Image credit:]

Your turn …

What are some of the fun ways you’re going to have a side of literacy this Thanksgiving?

Say What? Reading Double Speak

reading with kids fun with wordsWere you thinking this is an article about some of the conflicting data about literacy theory? Sorry to disappoint! This is our Reading with Kids Series, where we celebrate books that engage young listeners and readers with the experience of reading. We have had fun with words and books that make you laugh out loud.

Next up: books that explore the multiple meanings of words. Say what? Yep! As our title suggests, words can have many meanings. Weave them together into a story and Voila!

These are some our favorite books that play with words in ways that make the reader think and laugh!

Say What? Books with Visual Illusion

books with double meaningDuck! Rabbit!
written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books, 2009

It’s a simple image, or so it seems. One narrator says it’s a duck. The other says it’s a rabbit. Can it be both? This is a book that demonstrates that one thing can be interpreted different ways.

A simple illustration carries along this story about two (off-page) viewers who seem to see one thing in two different ways.

More Imagery Fun @ The Reading Tub

Say What? That’s Pun-y

say what - books with puns The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail
written by Lynn E. Hazen; illustrated by Doug Cushman
Henry Holt and Company, 2009

Seymour’s house is filled with his sculptures and paintings. Seymour liked them, but he wasn’t sure anyone else would. When his friends discovered his talent, they encouraged him to get a job. Ultimately, he took a job with the Speedy Arts Gallery as the errand snail: sliming envelopes, making deliveries.

A snail working in the Speedy Arts Gallery? Seymour Snail illustrates different ways of playing with words. This is an illustrated easy reader for developing readers, but it is also a nice choice for a read aloud book when you’re ready to read longer stories (but not yet chapter books).

More Word Play @ The Reading Tub

Say What? At a Loss for the Right Word

books that play with wordsPick a Pumpkin Mrs. Millie
written by Judy Cox; illustrated by Joe Mathieu
Marshall Cavendish, 2009

Mrs. Millie is a silly, silly teacher! She is taking her class to the pumpkin patch, but she gets all her words mixed up! In stead of saying “It’s NICE to see you!” she says, “It’s MICE to see you!” Each page has one mixed up word, with an illustration to match! Each time, the children in the class say “We know what you mean! You mean SEE the animals!).

This is a funny picture book that sneaks in learning about words with humor.  If you don’t read it exactly as the text appears on the page, sometimes there is more than one word that fits the story and also rhymes, and it’s fun to see what the kids come up with on their own.

More Word Oops’ @ The Reading Tub

Your Turn …

Now its your turn to say what books you love that play with words!

AmazonSmile – Shop & Give Back

Have you heard about the new AmazonSmile program? It has only been around for a few months. For nonprofits like The Reading Tub that rely on “passive fundraising,” AmazonSmile is a reason to, well, smile!

In a nutshell, AmazonSmile is Amazon, with all the features and selection of products on the main site. BUT, when you shop the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations you select.

The Reading Tub is one of the charities in the AmazonSmile philanthropic initiative. What is particularly beneficial to us is that there are no fees associated with the donation (unlike Paypal, which takes a small slice of your monetary contribution). It also doesn’t cost you anything extra!

With holiday shopping right around the corner, we thought now was a good time to invite you to support the Reading Tub via AmazonSmile. Not everyone shops on, and we can appreciate that. [We have some options for you coming soon.]

If IS one of your shopping destinations, we would be grateful for your support. We are 100% volunteer. That means 100% of any contributions we receive go to helping families and kids who need books in their lives!

AmazonSmile is an easy way to shop

amazonsmile signupVisit


support the reading tubUse the search box to find “Reading Tub Inc.”
Click “select” to choose The Reading Tub as your charity of choice.

amazonsmile thanks youBuy what you want and give to literacy, too.
Use the Firefox Extension to make it easy for Amazon Smile to kick in when you visit


Shop and Give Back this Holiday Season

Thanks in advance for all that you do to help us get books and literacy help to at-risk readers and their families!

Feel free to use our “Share a love of LITERACY this holiday” banner on your website, blog or via social. All that we ask in return is that you encourage your fans and followers to support the Reading Tub via AmazonSmile or GoodShop.