While your parents are busy planning and preparing your family's Thanksgiving feast, why not make a few decorations to top the table?

TURKEY TATERS

Items needed: thin cardboard or cardstock, pencil, markers, scissors, straight pins, potato.

Lay your hand, fingers spread apart, on cardstock. Use a pencil to draw around each finger, outlining it a little larger than your hand. This will be the feathers. On a second piece of cardstock draw two round eyes, a triangular beak and a teardrop-shaped wattle. Color the feathers and facial features and cut everything out. Slice off a small section from the bottom of the potato so it will stand without falling. Carefully attach the eyes, beak, gobbler and feathers with straight pins.

NOTABLE NATIVES

Items needed: two empty toilet paper rolls; orange, pink, black and yellow construction paper; scissors; glue; pencil; black marker; ruler.

Measure and cut two of each dimension from colored construction paper: 4- by 6-inch orange rectangle (body); 2- by 6-inch pink rectangle (face); 3- by 4-inch black rectangle (hair); 1- by 6-inch orange rectangle (headband); small feather shapes in yellow.

Wrap an empty toilet paper roll with the large orange rectangle. Glue in place. Draw a face on the pink paper and wrap it around the top edge of the roll to form the head. Glue in place. Cut the black construction paper into long, narrow strips, leaving an edge margin to make the hair fringe. Glue this around the sides and back of the head. For the headband, draw zigzag lines or another design across the long orange strip. Glue several feathers on the backside of the headband and let dry. Wrap the headband around the Native American's head, above the face. Glue in place. Repeat instructions for the second Native American. Draw a beaded necklace on the girl to distinguish genders.

BRIM & BUCKLE NAPKIN RINGS

Items needed: empty toilet paper roll, black and yellow construction paper, scissors, glue, ruler, compass or large cup 3 1/2- to 4-inches in diameter.

Measure and cut each dimension from colored construction paper: 3- by 6-inch black rectangle; 4-inch diameter circle in black (use compass or jar opening as a guide); 2- by 2-inch yellow square.

Measure 3 inches on the toilet paper roll, mark it and cut it to size. Roll black paper around the toilet paper roll and glue in place to make the top of the hat. Cut six evenly spaced, small tabs around one end of the hat. Center the black circle under the roll and trace around it to form an inner circle. Cut out the inner circle to make a ring. Slip the ring shape down over the black roll to form the brim of the hat. Fold tabs underneath the brim, put a dab of glue on each tab and secure to the brim. Hollow out the small yellow square with a smaller square to form the hat buckle. Glue close to the brim. Place the napkin through the hat top. Repeat directions to make enough for all your guests.

FEASTING ON FACTS

When the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated that first Thanksgiving in 1621, they weren't mixing mashed potatoes or gobbling pumpkin pie. In fact, many of the foods we consider traditional festive fare - ham, potatoes, corn, bread and pie - either weren't common or weren't available during feasting time. So, of what did that first meal consist? Since animals were in abundance, meat was the main component. Wild turkey and venison took center stage and may have been accompanied by various other types of game and seafood. Fruits and vegetables played a minor role and may have included pumpkins, peas, beans, onions, lettuce, radishes, carrots, plums and grapes. Cakes, pies and breads didn't top the table until later because sugar was sparse and ovens weren't available.

HARVEST OF BOOKS

If you want to read more on Thanksgiving, check out these books at local libraries:

  • "Albert's Thanksgiving" by Leslie Tryon

  • "The Candy Corn Contest" by Patricia Reilly Giff (sound recording)

  • "The First Thanksgiving" by Lois Lensky

  • "Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving" by Eric Metaxas

  • "Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving" by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • "A Turkey for Thanksgiving" by Eve Bunting (book and sound recording)

  • "Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols" by Edna Barth

  • "Turkey Pox" by Laurie Halse Anderson


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Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children. She has six grandchildren.