Homeschooling Inspiration

A Family Tradition: Our Thankful Tree

Most of the leaves had given in to the pull of last week’s showers to abandon their perches. Some were happy to ride along with gentle fall breezes this weekend to become crisp carpet under our Bean boots and the ducks’ webbed swaying.

It's time to hang our Thankful Tree

The ones that remain have all chosen to agree in beautiful auburn harmony that it will soon be time to let go. Just one glance out my kitchen window this evening reminds me that every stage of every season is alluring and full of grace if we just allow ourselves to see it. 

Thankful Tree

And if we look hard enough, truly there is always something to be thankful for.

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Do you follow along on Just click “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column, you won’t miss any future tips to encourage thankfulness in yourself and your child, and you can even snag a FREE 7-page, chock-full-of-information printable that will get you started on an unbelievably easy, unlimitedly rewarding journey of nature study with a child. Learn more about the real trees in or around your own backyard and the pretty leaves you gather for your thankful tree. Even the least science-oriented parent (or grandparent) ever can use this printable.

And love it.


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Maybe that’s why my daughters insisted that we hang a Thankful Tree this weekend. I was shocked that they coaxed their friend to help them roll out the craft paper, scour the basement for the right paint color for bark, and make a Thankful Tree for our new home. After 16 years of a tradition that I thought was surely too childish for them still today, after a Saturday full of non-stop projects around the homestead; after cutting, carrying, and stacking wood for hours,

Today we put up our family Thankful Tree

they painted and hung our Thankful Tree.

Painting our Thankful Tree

They hung the craft paper tree in our carriage house, where we often enter instead of our main door, because it’s preceded by an old porch, where we can leave muddy boots and cumbersome coats. I can’t help but think how the placement is perfect. Before we give daily thanks, we should rid ourselves of our muddy worries and cumbersome busyness. We should come empty handed but aware that we are greeted with grace.

They force the thumb tacks through their painted tree and into the venerable wooden beams. (There’s pretty much no defacing this old farm house. It’s survived 216 years of use and gladly takes a few more tiny scars, bearing witness to the love it houses.) Then they decide on one big difference this year. Sitting and cutting construction paper leaves was no longer appealing to my teens, as it used to be to my elementary daughters who loved any excuse to wield big-girl scissors, but our homestead has an ample supply of the real things, nicely crisp and naturally dried.

Thankful Tree leaves

We gathered a basketful of leaves and placed it beside our tree, along with a sharpie, a box of double-sided tape squares, and a list of some open-ended, but out-of-the-box, things we should be thankful for (e.g. “something I heard today,” “something handmade,” or “something that makes me truly feel God’s love”).

For my first leaf, I simply write “Thankful Tree” in cursive strokes across my dry, waxy oak leaf. They think I am thankful for our family tradition, their ingenuity in getting it hung so quickly, for this craft paper tree hanging in this carriage house tonight. They don’t know I am smiling remembering the filing boxes in the attic above that hold 16 years’  of homeschool treasures, including construction paper leaves testifying, in toddler penmanship, to so many more Thankful Trees, hung on so many other walls, in other homes, in other years, that I will forever be thankful for.

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Don’t forget to take a second to follow along on Just scroll to the top of this page and click “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column. Whether you catch up on a few antics learning experiences here on our homestead, enjoy musings about a two centurys’ old farmhouse, or glean a little homeschooling insight from this momma who’s been failing at the effort for almost 2 decades, I hope my focus helps you Keep it Simple while being Souly Rested on Christ

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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

0 Comment

    1. Thank you, Laura. It truly amazes me that the girls still want to do this, but for that I am truly thankful. It’s extra special that they always include company in on the tradition and greet guests with a leaf and sharpie in hand. 🙂

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