As Nicolas gets older I think about the family traditions we will implement on a yearly basis. I would like to develop and establish meaningful traditions that are relevant to a growing family as well as mindful of the dynamic world we live in.
Nicolas is only 2, but I feel that it is never too early to teach him about gratitude and the ways people in the states celebrate November as a time to be thankful and reflect on the year’s acquisitions (both material and intangible). Inspired by a project in Better Homes & Gardens monthly magazine, I thought that making a Community of Thankfulness board would be a great way to introduce him to Thanksgiving themes from the perspective of living in a community- something he is learning about as a child who is interested in fire and police stations, hospitals, and other community buildings.
So what exactly is a Community of Thankfulness board? It’s a cork bulletin board with 22 felt community buildings attached to the board with string and clothespins. The felt buildings include several houses, a school, a library, a hospital, a police station, a fire station, a court house, i.e., several different buildings that may be found in a community or city. Each building is labeled with a number; the numbers correspond to the number of days in November up until Thanksgiving (so 22 community buildings since this November Thanksgiving is on the 22nd).
On the back of each building is a question to be asked on the corresponding date in November. The questions are intended to prompt thoughtfulness about the ways we are thankful.
I made the board myself, but I could see a family with older kids joining in to personalize the board. The board can also be adapted for classroom lessons. Community buildings and questions can be changed and personalized to meet your needs.
You will need felt fabric squares or scraps, a glue gun, scissors, twine, clothespins, a cork board, foam sheets, a staple gun, a fine point Sharpie, and adhesive numbers. The tea is optional, but is highly recommended. 😉
Next, I cut five pieces of twine longer than the width of the cork board. I put the twine on the floor and spaced each piece of twine out so that the pieces lined up the way they would sit on the board. Then I laid the cork board on top of the twine upside down, and stapled each piece of twine to the back of the cork board using a staple gun.
I cut out the shapes of the buildings and their doors and windows. I kept it as simple as possible and used rectangles and squares for the doors and windows. I also cut out symbols to help identify the different community buildings, e.g., for the school house I cut out a bell, for the police station I cut out a badge, and for the fire station I cut out a simple Maltese cross. I arranged the buildings on the cork board.
Next, I hot glued the windows and doors to the buildings.
I stuck an adhesive number to each building and wrote a question on a cut out piece of foam sheet using a fine point Sharpie. Then I hot glued a question to the back of each building.
Last, I attached each building to the strings on the cork board using a clothespin.
Community of Thankfulness Questions
Here are the questions I used on my board. Adapt or change the questions to meet your needs.
- What does it mean to be thankful?
- What is the history of Thanksgiving in America?
- Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving?
- What are you thankful for?
- How can we show our thankfulness throughout the year?
- When are you the happiest during the day?
- Fill in the blank. I am happy to be me because ________.
- What is your favorite activity to do with your family?
- What about today has been better than yesterday?
- Who is someone who’s always there for you?
- How can we help each other?
- What’s your favorite thing about the place you live?
- What season are you most thankful for?
- Where is your favorite place to play outside?
- What do you do to give back to your community?
- Who is someone you could say thank you to today?
- What is something you learned this week?
- What do you love most about your family?
- Who’s someone who always listens when you speak?
- Who made you smile today?
- Who did you help today?
- What community service are you thankful for?