For Thanksgiving:  create fun, festive touches and grateful hearts

Pass the mashed potatoes and stuffing, it’s Turkey Time! Beneath the heaping platters and 10-yardline huddles Thanksgiving holds a beautiful reminder. Laila Gifty Akita, a Ghanaian woman and founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation, said, “Gratitude is the seed of gladness.” What better time to grow joy than the holiday focusing on thankfulness! Help kids count, celebrate, and share their blessings, and in the process, make sweet and lasting memories.

Family time is a great part of the season, but extending that love to others can make it even more special. One lovely idea for connecting with community comes from SheKnows. The editors suggest showing your gratitude to an unsung hero. They urge: “Get together with your family and decide on a person or a group in your community who could use an extra pat on the back — firefighters, soldiers, police officers all fit the bill. Put together a special plate of goodies and deliver it (or pack it up for shipping) as a family.”

Staying home and watching for the bird’s pop-up timer to pop? Check out creative activities on the Family Education website including Pin the Feathers on the Turkey – a holiday turn on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Download and print out the turkey, hang it on the wall, cut out some tail feathers, have kids cover their eyes, then give them a spin.

Holidays often disrupt preschoolers’ napping and eating schedules. Help wound-up little ones learn to count by counting their blessings with the adorable “Count Your Blessings” MP3 download.

If you’re happy and you know it…show it! The Family Education website includes some adorable decorating ideas that capture the spirit of the day, including making a Thankful Thanksgiving Tablecloth. Every member of the family takes a turn at writing at least one thing he or she is grateful for. During Thanksgiving dinner, everyone can read the many things your family is grateful for!

Tuck flatware into a free utensil holder printable stenciled with “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.” The how-to’s come from Craftaholics Anonymous; for a pic of what it looks like put together, go to SheKnows.

SheKnows also suggests “It’s Never Too Late to Start Brand New Thanksgiving Day Traditions.” One idea? Make a small booklet or mini scrapbook by jotting down “5 Things I Love About My Family and Friends,” and keeping it out on the table during your Thanksgiving celebration. Or put them on a single sheet of card stock and start compiling them yearly to create a Thanksgiving Gratitude Scrapbook.

Traveling over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s (or someone else’s) house for Thanksgiving? Take along the Little Scholar tablet for ages 3 to 7, along with Kid-Safe Over-the-Ear Headphones, and a few cuddly plush-toy pals that include Charlie, Levi Cottonwood, and Socrates the owl. No Little Scholar in time for the holiday? You can still keep multiple kids of different ages, learning and entertained, at home OR at Grandma’s, just by way of Internet connection on any desktop computer, tablet, or digital device, by exploring the new digital learning destination

Make this Thanksgiving a season for sharing, learning, and giving!