Giving Thanks this Thanksgiving with The Giving Tree

November 22, 2011

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Book of the Week: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Why we love this book:

What can I say about The Giving Tree? I’m sure most of you are quite familiar with this classic story about a tree who loved a little boy. As a teacher, The Giving Tree inspires endless lessons about our environment, love, giving, sharing, being thankful . . . . Through the years, I also find more and more metaphors hidden in this story of love. When reading the story to the children this week, MacGyver commented at the end of the book, “But he’s not a boy anymore, he’s an old man. Why did the tree still call him a boy?” I laughed and told him that some day when he’s a man, I’ll still think of him as my little boy. Then I wiped the tears from my eyes.

This Thanksgiving I decided to take The Giving Tree in a new direction. If you’ve spent any time here at waddlee-ah-chaa, you know I’m not an artsy – crafty kind of teacher. Art yes, crafts not so much. You won’t find any turkeys, Pilgrim hats or Indian feathers around this house. These Thanksgiving Trees are about as crafty as we get around here! But they are so sweet we might have to make them an annual tradition. Each year I can watch their hands and ideas grow.

Thanksgiving Trees


  • The Giving Tree
  • white card-stock or paper
  • black marker (we used a fine tip sharpie marker)
  • watercolor paints
  • green paper
  • scissors
  • glue

Step One

  • Read books about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving
  • Checkout post: Teaching Children the True Story of Thanksgiving
  • Brainstorm things the Pilgrims had to be thankful for that first Thanksgiving
  • These are the children’s ideas, not mine

Step Two

  • Read The Giving Tree
  • Pose question
    • What did the tree give the boy?
    • Did the boy thank the tree?
    • At first MacGyver began to shake his head yes, then realized that the little boy never actually showed the tree how grateful he was for all that the tree had given him.
  • Discuss the importance of being thankful and not taking for granted all of the good people and things we have in our lives.
  • Brainstorm things we should be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
    • MacGyver noted that we are thankful for many of the same things the Pilgrims were: family, food, shelter . . .
    • We also discussed how luxury items like toys are nice to have but they are not necessary for us to live a good and healthy life.

Step Three

  • I showed the children a little trick I learned as a child: How to trace your hand and arm to make the trunk of a tree.
  • Miss Enigma asked me to help her trace her arm and hand.

Step Four

  • Watercolor paint the tree trunk and tree canopy.

MacGyver decided to splatter paint the green leaves on his tree.

Step Five

  • Cut green leaves.
    • I showed the children how to fold a small piece of paper to create symmetrical leaves.

Step Six

  • The children labeled their leaves with the things they are thankful for this year.
  • I wrote Miss Enigma’s words for her.
  • Glue leaves to tree.

Thanksgiving Tree Collage, Miss Enigma, age 5

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Miss Enigma’s Mommy looooooooooooves cheesecake! A LOT! Rumor is grandma is making a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. It’s okay to be thankful for cheesecake, isn’t it?

Thanksgiving Tree Collage, MacGyver, age 8

What would we find on your Thanksgiving Tree this year?

Life with Jeannine


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicky November 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

These look plenty crafty to me! You did a good job even if it’s not totally in your comfort zone. Love the tie in with the book. Great thoughts, not only this time of year, but always. I am a new follower from ABC and 123 Learning. Vicky from Mess For Less

Tara November 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I am especially thankful for God’s provision this year!

And I just have to say that this is one book that I have ALWAYS wanted to buy but just couldn’t justify pay full price. A teacher in my elementary school always read it to us every year so I have always loved it. We have checked it out at the library but would love to own it!!
Happy Thanksgiving!! :)

Tara November 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

My computer is being weird so I’m not sure if my other comment went through.
I LOVE this book and am hoping to buy it this year for the boys for Christmas.
I like the handprint trees; I’ve never thought about that before.
And I am especially thankful for God’s provision this year. I’m learning that the more faith I place in Him, the more He surprises me!! :)
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Natalie November 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Very nice activity at a perfect time. I like comparison between pilgrims and us. Perhaps I can fit it in between turkey making and cookie baking tomorrow :)

Deb @ Living Montessori Now November 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I always loved The Giving Tree, and I LOVE your Thanksgiving trees! I’ve been writing about gratitude activities and Thanksgiving trees of all types and pinning lots of gratitude activities to my Kids’ Thanksgiving Activities Pinterest board at Your Thanksgiving tree focus is truly unique! I added it to my Pinterest, board by the way! Happy to be visiting you again from HHH.

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