We all know about “Secret Santa,” but how about “Top Secret Turkey?”
With Thanksgiving in the United States a mere three days away (what happened to the year, can someone tell me please??), we wanted to come up with a fun idea to celebrate being thankful. The children were talking about their fond memories of weaving construction paper placemats each year at their Montessori school to use at the school Thanksgiving feast, so we came up with a variation of the simple woven placemat that also incorporates thankfulness.
This is pretty easy and works for all ages. Totally doable with younger children (if they can’t cut well yet, you can precut the strips) or with teenagers if they’ll agree to it. Mine did because they wanted to make the placemat of their memories and honestly, we had a lot of silly fun along the way.
The basics you will need are construction paper, scissors, and something to write with. We used colored Sharpies.
1) Choose your paper colors. We used red, yellow, orange, and brown to represent fall. Orient the sheets of paper vertically and use a ruler to mark off one inch increments.
2) Using the guide dots, cut the papers into one inch strips. They don’t have to be perfect. I actually think it looks better if they aren’t.
3) Arrange the strips in rows in a pattern if you like patterns (I am a pattern kind of person) or random if that suits you better! Experiment with the number of strips you will need of each color to achieve the size that you want. We used four strips each of our four colors (so we had some left over).
4) Tape the very top of the papers to the table using a long strip of tape to hold them in place (LESSON LEARNED: We used Scotch Tape and it was quite difficult to remove from the table afterwards, masking tape would be much easier).
5) Now you can begin weaving. Very little ones will need help with this. Follow the same pattern you used with the vertical strips or make a new one.
6) Now get a glue stick or some white glue and glue underneath each top flap at the edge all the way around the mat.
Unstick the tape from the table and flip the mat over. Fold over the taped flap to easily stick down that edge. Then repeat same gluing process as first side along the remaining edges of the mat.
7) Cut off the extra bits that are hanging off.
Now for the Top Secret part!
Put all the placemats in a pile. Before your meal, have everyone at the Thanksgiving table draw a name out of a hat to determine who’s Top Secret Turkey they will be. Next have each person take a random placemat and write on the back of the placemat something they are thankful for about the person who’s name they drew. On the front of the placemat, they should write that person’s name. If you are concerned with handwriting being a giveaway, prepare stickers with all the names ahead of time (either computer printed or all written by the same person). Set the table with the placemats. An added bonus is that the names will serve as place markers so everyone knows where to sit.
At some point before, during or after the meal, have everyone turn over their mat and read the nice comment. Each person can then try to guess who is his or her Top Secret Turkey! It’s a fun game that leaves everyone feeling happy and appreciated!
Here are two other thankful-related projects that you might enjoy:
(NOTE: I apologize for the lack of photos in these posts. They suffered from my great photo disaster but I am working on finding and replacing them, or recreating them!)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!