I am so thrilled to be joining two fabulous bloggers in celebrating The Family Dinner Book Club this month, and planning a celebration and family discussion of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. If you don’t know about The Family Book Club this is a great time to find out! On the first day of each month a new book title is announced, and then on the 15th of that month three blogs share ideas about how to create a wonderful book themed family dinner party and book discussion. Jodie from Growing Book By Book shares discussion starters and conversation topics, Daisy from Daisy at Home creates a book themed dinner menu, and this month I have some ideas on how to create some simple decorations, that kids can help create, for your big book party dinner table.
This book, with its simple text and black line drawings, tells a very sophisticated and deep story about both giving and taking. One of the major themes, that resonates with me very strongly, is of being aware of the consequences of “taking” from nature. Being aware of the consequences of over-consumption (of which I am guilty), doing our best to reuse what we can, reduce our consumption, re-purpose items, and recycle whenever possible are big topics at our house. We are trying to live those practices. I think our The Giving Tree dinner party gave us a great opportunity to practice! Big A., and I decided to use only items we could find at our house to make the decorations for the party. The end results are just a bit “rustic”, but we learned a lot about trying to use what we had, instead of trying to buy all new things.
What is a party without an invitation? Right now Big A. is loves to deliver the mail. He waits for our mail carrier each afternoon, and loves to go through each piece of mail and deliver it to its appropriate recipient. It is really fun for him, and it helps him to recognize letters and names. For our party invitations, I did the writing, and A. really enjoyed passing out the mail!
If you right click on the above picture, then save it to your computer, the invitation above should be all ready to print at 5×7”. I printed these invitations two to a page. I used some lovely cardstock that we had on hand. You can find some great recycled cardstock at http://www.paperandmore.com/recycled-cardstock
Pop-up Place Cards
I love all things pop-up, and I am transferring my love of paper engineering to Big A. These cards made a lovely addition to our table, and gave A. a great chance to write each guest’s name. To make things a bit easier, and to add more pictures without things crashing (I love pictorial directions), I have posted the directions for our craft projects on separate pages. Click here to find out how to make these fun pop-up tree place cards.
The other theme from the story that we are trying to incorporate into our family life is that of giving. The tree in the story gave of itself, and giving of ourselves is something that we call all do. I have found that when I take note of when one of my kids does something kind or loving they are more likely to keep trying to be kind. In order to encourage kindness and giving, A. and I created a giving tree centerpiece to highlight our acts of giving (no matter how small). This tree was simple for even a child with motor problems to make, used materials we saved from the recycling bin, and I think it came out looking really interesting and lovely. Every time I see one of the kids doing something kind or giving of himself, I write the act on a small green leaf and hang it on the tree. The kids love the ceremony of having their deed acknowledged, and I am hoping it will encourage even more kindness. I am also encouraging the kids to “catch” their brothers doing something kind. If they report a kindness they get to put the leaf on the tree. For the direction on how to make this tree, click here.
Paper Towel Tube Trees
I thought our giving trees looked a little small and alone on the table, so we decided to create a few more trees to keep our centerpiece company. Again, these were simple to make, the kids can definitely help, and we used recycled or home-found materials. All the boys helped to paint the paper tubes, and A. really enjoyed doing it. He decided to make a hollow tree so animals could live inside it. I love creative thinking!!!!!!! For directions on how to make our Paper Towel Tube Trees click here.
Tree Sun Catchers
My kids love things that alter the light coming through their playroom. We have strong morning light, and a large window in just the right spot to catch it. We have experimented with many things to catch the light for that window. This activity was one the kids really liked. It took A LOT of trial and error to get the balance of things right on this. I have seen many lovely sun catcher ideas that use melted plastic craft beads, but after consulting with Mr. Mad Scientist, we made a mutual decision that we didn’t want to melt plastic in the oven, or inhale the fumes that would have been released onto the air. To find out how we made these environmentally friendly sun catcher ornaments from everyday baking supplies click here.
We had so much fun having our The Giving Tree Dinner Party, and I hope some of these ideas will brighten your book discussion dinner table. Please join us in hosting your own Family Book Club Dinner party, and check back at the Family Dinner Book Club site to see the other great parties other families are hosting. I would love to see your pictures if you try any of these ideas, and I’d love pictures of anything you come up with at your house to celebrate The Giving Tree.