Here is a project that I adapted from the book Kids Create! By Laurie Carlson. Your village can make a great centerpiece for your Thanksgiving meal. Doing the whole project at once may be too long. Instead, break it up into four or five different projects, which you will eventually put together. The whole activity is a bit more involved than the ones I normally recommend. I feel, however, that the final product is so much fun and so educational that this one is worth the extra effort. If you don't have time to do all the sections, just try activities #1 and #2 and then talk about the differences between them.
Time needed for project: Half an hour and up
Appropriate for ages: Three and up
What you'll need:
- A large piece of thick paper. (You can tape together a few regular sized pieces of paper if you don't have one piece that is large enough.)
- Cardboard milk containers (The small, half-pint, school size containers are perfect for this activity or you can take the one quart containers and cut them in half.)
- Paper or plastic cups and/or plastic yogurt containers
Note: The number of milk containers and cups or yogurt containers depends on how large you wish to make your village.
- Construction Paper
- Drinking straws
- Liquid dish detergent
- Tempera paint (Have brown and green available.)
- Small amount of playdoh or clay
- Paint Brushes
- Newspaper to cover your work area
Here's What to Do:
Discuss the difference between Pilgrims and Indians and how each lived in different types of houses. (Your child may have already learned this in pre-school. Check what she already knows.) Tell her that you are going to make both types of houses.
Cover the work area with newspaper.
Activity #1: Paint the "houses" of the pilgrims.
Put a bit of dishwashing liquid into brown paint. (The dishwashing liquid helps the paint stick to the waxy surface of the milk containers.)
If you are using one-quart containers, cut them in half. The top portion can be painted. Take the bottom part and cut the creases down several inches. Then staple or tape the top ends together in the shape of a roof. (Check out the picture above to see how I did it with my kids.)
Let your child paint the milk containers brown.
Put the houses on the side to dry.
Activity #2: Paint the wigwams for the Indian houses.
Take plastic cups, paper cups or yogurt containers and turn them upside down.
Cut a triangular hole in the bottom for the door. (See picture above for illustration.)
Put a bit of dishwashing liquid into the paint you are going to use so it will stick to the wax. (Oranges, reds, and yellows are "Indian" appropriate, but once again, let your child choose. It is better to have your child feel it's her work than to have it look realistic.)
Have your child paint the cups in a colorful manner.
If you are using a plain white plastic cup, you can use magic markers instead of paint. This way is far less messy, but of course is also less impressive looking. (A fact which may not matter to your child.)
If you have used paint, then put the "wigwams" out to dry.)
Activity #3: Paint the base of your village.
Have your child paint a large, thick piece of paper. If you don't have a big enough piece of paper, you can tape a few pieces together.
The paper will serve as the "ground," so I recommend using the color green, but if your child really wants to use brown or another color, don't insist. Do point out that the base is supposed to be the ground.
Activity #4: Glue the houses and wigwams onto the base.
- Let your child brush glue onto the bottom of the cups and milk containers and then place them down on the base. Glue the wigwams on one side and the houses on the other, with some space in the middle.
Activity #5: Make a table for the Thanksgiving feast.
Let your child take four small balls of playdoh or clay and glue them down where she wants the table legs to be.
Cut two straws in half and place each half into a ball of playdoh or clay.
Cut out a piece of cardboard or construction paper.
Have your child color the paper or cardboard in an appropriate color for a Thanksgiving table.
Glue the piece of paper or cardboard onto the straws.
If you want, stop here. You should now be able to show your child,in miniature, the idea/concept of the Thanksgiving feast. Discuss how people who lived in two different types of houses, and lived in two different ways all sat down at the same table to eat together.
Do you want to go on? If so, here are some more ways you can add to your village:
Activity #6: Make trees for your village
Trace or have your older pre-school child trace the shape of trees onto a thick piece of paper or cardboard.
Let your child color in the trees. She can make all the trees green or put fruit on some trees. Let her use her imagination.
If your child is old enough, have her cut out the trees. If not, you can cut them out.
Glue part of a straw onto the back of the trees.
Stick the straw into a small amount of playdoh or clay. (It should stand up now.)
Glue the playdoh or clay onto the base of the village.
Let your child choose the location of the trees. Even if she puts them all in the same place, it's O.K. Let her feel it is her work.
Activity #7: Decorate your houses:
If you have some extra time, you can add more decorations to your houses to make them look realistic.
For Pilgrim houses:
Make doors and windows from construction paper.
Glue them onto the houses.
For Indian Houses:
Go outside and collect small sticks or branches or crumpled leaves.
Glue small pieces of these onto the wigwams.
Activity #8: Make some Pilgrims and Indians for your village
Make the shapes of people out of playdoh or modeling clay.
Break up little pieces of leaves and stick them into the heads of the "Indians" for the feathers.
Glue the people onto the base of the village.
Let your child draw Pilgrims and Indians on construction paper.
Cut out the Pilgrims and Indians. (Let your child do it if she can.)
Glue a straw on the back and place the straw into a small ball of playdoh.
Glue the playdoh onto the base.
(Do not worry if your child draws the pilgrims and Indians "too big." As long as she is happy, it's great. If you think she would prefer, you can prepare small, appropriate sized pieces of paper and have her draw the people on them.)
Enjoy what you and your child have created together. Let your child show her creation at Thanksgiving Dinner and talk about why and how she made each section of the vilage.