Thanksgiving Word Search for Kids

Download your free Thanksgiving Word Search for kids. This is a fun word recognition activity for elementary school aged children.

thanksgiving word search

Hey friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving has always been a special time. First, my mom’s birthday almost always falls on the week of Thanksgiving, so it’s always super special. Secondly, as a child, I used to love to hear my grandfather’s stories about our own Apache heritage. We are prepping for Thanksgiving this week. I imagine this year, Thanksgiving will look different for many families. I’ve heard some cities are locking down again. If you are in one of those cities, I’m sorry. It’s very tough to be apart from families especially this time of year, especially after all we’ve done already this year. We are staying home and cooking for a few immediate family members.

Today, I’ve created something fun for your older elementary school kids. I’ve created a free Thanksgiving word search for kids. Who knows, maybe it will keep them busy long enough to butter rolls! I personally used to love word search games particularly as a kid. Who am I kidding? I still really love them. I always felt like it helped me with my dyslexia because it forced me to concentrate.

Benefits of Word Searches

Sometimes word searches can get a bad rap. They seem like they are just busywork, but the truth is, they have lots of benefits. Here are some of the perks to incorporating word searches into your child’s playtime or school time.

  • Word recognition – Word recognition is very easy for adults that have been reading for years and are familiar with recognizing words by just a glance. While such things are obvious to adults, it’s not to you our little ones. For the emergent reader, word searches require them to truly hone in on the letters that make up the word.
  • We visualize words as a picture – Word searches have a unique effect on our brain. When we search for a word in a word search, we continually picture the word in our mind, thus reinforcing the spelling and structure of the word. This, of course, improves memory.
  • Focus on letter combinations. It’s in our nature to look for parts of the word that are unique like ie, uo, ea, tr, etc. We tend to hunt for letter combinations in word searches. For example, in the word Thanksgiving we tend to look for the letter combination ‘TH’ and ‘NG.’
  • Spelling – This might seem obvious and that’s because it is. Word searches encourage spelling. When you word search, you will have to examine the maze of letters to find the letters that make up the word and you have to spell it in order to know if you have found the word correctly.
  • Improves Vocabulary – I like using word searches to help reinforce vocabulary words. You can make the word search for just about any subject. Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, etc.

My Word Search

I’ve created this word search with 25 different Thanksgiving-themed words. Have your child search for the words horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. To add an extra level of difficulty, the words can also appear forwards or backward. I’ve created the word search in a .pdf document. You will need Adobe Acrobat or some other pdf viewing software to view it. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.

I love coming up with some of these fun games. I created a Halloween I Spy as well and I plan on making a fun Christmas version as well in the next coming weeks. Also, be sure to check out Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle available in my shop here on the blog or in my ETSY shop.

Click on the button below to download your copy.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog before you leave.

How to Play Dirty Santa

Are you bored with traditional white elephant gift exchanges? Here is a new take an old favorite. Today I’m sharing a new way to spice up holidays gift exchanges with how to play Dirty Santa.

how to play dirty Santa
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All of us are familiar with white elephant gift exchanges. If you have ever been part of an office gift exchange chances are you have done white elephant. As much as we all love gift-giving, most of us haven’t won the lottery recently. A white elephant type of exchange is a great way to involve lots of people in gift exchanging with everyone making a modest contribution and therefore not breaking the bank.

In fact, that’s part of why I decided to share this in a blog post this year. COVID-19 has hit lots of people financially this year. In years past, some of my extended family drew names for a gift exchange instead of buying everyone a gift. But I found that it ended up being lack-luster. For example, lots of people just bought $25 gift cards and that’s exactly what it felt like. A group of people passing the same $25 around. Boring!!

Why not turn it into a fun game instead. Today, I’m going to share with you a fun way to turn humdrum white elephant gift exchanges into something more fun. Dirty Santa, White Elephant and Yankee Swap are all very similar in nature. First, I’m going to give you the basic rules. Then I am going to give you some fun variations to mix it up.

How to Play Dirty Santa

Rule 1: Decide on a Dollar Amount

This is totally up to the people involved, but you will need to decide on a dollar amount. It’s hard to find decent presents under $10 or $15, but if you are giving to office co-workers, that might be the perfect amount. If you are giving to close family members, you might consider a higher dollar amount like $50 or even $100. Just make sure there is no pressure and everyone is in agreement. You also want to discuss whether or not gag gifts will be allowed. This should be absolutely clear to everyone. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of people who were upset when they bought a thoughtful gift and got a ridiculous gag gift like a bar of soap! So just make sure everyone agrees on whether to include comical gifts or not.

Rule 2: Make Wrapping a Big Deal

To add a little extra flavor to the experience, go all out on wrapping. Go festive with big bows or festive elements. If you have a very small item, perhaps you wrap it in a large box or an unusual container. I’ve heard of some people that get silly and wrap the gift multiple times so the recipient has to unwrap it again and again. There are lots of ways to make the wrapping entertaining to onlookers.

Rule 3: Place Gifts

You will need to place gifts in full view of all the guests so they can select from the pile. Any surface will do so long as it’s clean and everyone can access it when it is their turn to pick a gift.

Rule 3: Draw Numbers

Count the number of participants and write the numbers on little slips of paper. For example, for fifteen participants you’d write numbers one through fifteen. Fold the papers to obscure the number, then place the papers in a container. Then every person will draw a number from the container.

Rule 4: Gift Picking and Stealing

Starting with whoever drew number one, that person will pick any gift from the pile. They will open it in front of everyone. Then the gift picking will move to the number two person. That person can either pick a new gift to unwrap from the table or they can steal the unwrapped gift. If they select a new gift to unwrap, they cannot steal. The playing moves down the line chronologically and every player can steal any one of the previously unwrapped gifts or pick a new gift from the pile.

Some people like to make a rule that a particular gift cannot be stolen more than two or three times. This rule is totally optional, but it totally stops coveted gifts from making too many rounds. If a player’s gift is stolen, they then get to pick another gift to unwrap or they too can steal one of the opened gifts. They just can’t steal their own back. This continues until all players have gifts. At the end of the gift picking, the person who was number one can choose to steal any of the gifts!

Variations of Dirty Santa

Scavenger Hunt

This particularly fun in an office setting. Everyone must start at the entrance of the building or home you are in. Instead of drawing names, hide all the presents, and have people search for them. Participants can swap once with each other once all the gifts are found, but that’s it.

Musical Chairs

Have all guests sit or stand in a circle. Have some holiday tunes ready. A gift is entered into the circle as music plays and continues being passed around until the music stops. Whoever is holding the gift when the music stops, gets the gift and leaves the circle. This process continues until everyone has received a gift. The last person in the circle can either steal any of the opened gifts or take the remaining unopened gift.

A Themed Gift

You can play this using the same rules as classic Dirty Santa or White Elephant, but the gifts purchased have a theme. Maybe its a DVD, a holiday ornament, homemade gifts, or regifts. Use your imagination!

Karaoke Edition

Have everyone include a tag on their gift that has a Christmas Carol title on it. You can do this with or without a karaoke machine. Guests get in line and take turns selecting gifts from the gift table. However, they must sing the carol written on the gift they select before they can open it.

Christmas Break Out Games

Make sure everyone is okay with this before purchasing gifts. But you can turn the gifts into prizes and instead allow guests to win them in simple Christmas games or minute-to-win-it games. In fact, I’ve created some printable Christmas party games that you can purchase below. You can also set aside a few gifts for consolation prizes and set a rule that guests can play the games all they want, but can only win one gift.

Gift Ideas

For a full list of gift ideas, you can check out my blog post

However, here is a small list of ideas. If you are playing with both men and women, you’ll want to aim for unisex gifts. These are gifts that can be used or appeal to both. Here are some quick ideas all under $25.

So now you know how to play Dirty Santa also known as White elephant and hopefully I’ve given you some additional ideas on how to switch things up. Full confession – I normally dislike gag gifts. If you’ve received and loved a gag gift, let me know in the comments. Happy Holidays!

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Preppy Baby Boy Names

Ivy League schools. New England coastlines. Sailing. Nantucket. Martha’s Vineyard. Plaid. These are just some of the things I think about when I think about preppy kids. If that’s your vibe, I’ve got some cute preppy baby boy names that have Ivy League written all over them.

Preppy baby boy names
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Oh, the joy of naming a baby. I don’t know about you, but I found it hard to name my kiddos. Also, I never realized that I only had girl names picked out, so naturally, I had only boys! I actually fretted quite a bit when I was choosing the names for my boys. Admittedly, I also never expected to get pushback from family members and friends on names I was considering. I have a friend who was even pressured into giving her son a family name. It happens friend and the best advice I can give is to just brush it off and do your thing.

One of the lists I made when choosing a name was preppy baby boy names. I admit I love this style of names so I thought I’d share the list I compiled with you. I’ve also tried to give you some basic meanings when available. When I hear preppy names I kind of think about Ivy League universities and New England coastlines. I think upper-class and clout.

Before you scroll down the list, I know that you’ve got lots to do before baby arrives. That’s why I’ve created the Baby Registry Checklist to help get you started on your registry shopping list. You may also want to check out my post 10 Things You Don’t Need On Your Baby Registry.

preppy baby boy names

Preppy Baby Boy Names

  • Alexander – though most well known for the Greek emperor Alexander the Great, Alexander is popular in many European countries
  • Anders – A Norse / Scandanavian version of Andrew, it was also the name of a notable physicist
  • August – A shortened version of Augustine, August graced three Polish Kings and also Augustus an emperor of Rome
  • Anderson – A more formal take on the name Andrew
  • Asher – A biblical name, Asher is the son of Jacob and also means happy and blessed in Hebrew
  • Aston – A rare name, it means East Town in Old English
  • Ashton – An Old English version of “Ash Tree Town”
  • Basil – Originally a Greek name, Saint Basil the Great was an early doctor of the church
  • Bastian – A suffix shortening of the name Sebastian meaning “venerable”
  • Beau – pronounced “Bo,” it means “beautiful” in French and has become a unisex name
  • Bernard – A Germanic name meaning “brave” or “bear”
  • Blake – An Old English name meaning “black” or “pale”
  • Blaine – Originally a Scottish surname meaning “yellow”
  • Brett – An Old English name to describe a Briton.
  • Brooks – Originally the English surname “Brook” it was used literally to describe someone who lived near a brook.
  • Bryce (or Brice) – A French name that also graced a saint
  • Camden – An Old English name that was originally used to describe a place like a valley.
  • Carlton – This is actually a variant of Charlton, meaning “settlement of free men”
  • Casey – Originally an Irish surname, It was also the name of hero Casey Jones, (1863-1900) who gave his life to save train passengers
  • Cecil – An ancient Roman name
  • Chauncey – A Norman surname of unknown meaning
  • Charles – A classic name, it is actually a derivation of the Germanic, Karl
  • Chase – English surname meaning ” huntsman”
  • Chett – A short form of Chester
  • Chip – Often a nickname for Charles or Christopher, this name is also occasionally used on it’s own.
  • Clarke – An English surname that was used to describe a cleric or scribe
  • Colin – Believe it or not, this is actually a shortened form of Nicolas.
  • Davis – A derivative of Davis
  • Desmond – An Irish surname describing the region from which they came
  • Drake – Old English surname meaning dragon or serpent
  • Drew – Shortened form of Andrew
  • Easton – English surname
  • Edmond – French form of Edmund. The famous bearer is Edmon Halley for whom Halley’s comment is named.
  • Ellis – A surname that derived from Elijah
  • Ferris – British surname
  • Forrest – English surname for someone who lived near the forest. Saw a resurgence with the movie Forrest Gump
  • Franklin – An English surname meaning “freeman” it was notably the name of American Statesman Benjamin Franklin president Frankling Roosevelt
  • Francois – The French form of Frank
  • George – Also considered an aristocratic name because many kings have donned the name
  • Graham – A Scottish surname that eventually developed into a Scottish given name
  • Granville – An English surname named after a place in Normandy
  • Hamilton – Originally an English surname meaning “crooked”
  • Harris – A name that derived from Harry
  • Harrison – A name meaning son of Harry
  • Horatio – most commonly associated with British Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated Napolean at the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Hugh – Popular among French nobility
  • Hyde – An English surname used to describe someone who lived on about 100 acres
  • Jack – a derivation of John. In the middle ages, it was slang for “man” in the same way we use “guy” today which is why it is common in fairy tales
  • James – Originally a Hebrew name and used in England from the 13th century
  • Keaton – An English surname
  • Miles – Originally derived from Milo, it is a Germanic name with uncertain origins.
  • Montgomery – An English surname named after a mountain
  • Nicholas – a Greek name meaning “victory for the people”
  • Parker – An English surname meaning “keeper of the park”
  • Patton – English name deriving from Patrick
  • Pierce – a medieval form of Peter
  • Prescott – An English surname meaning “priest’s cottage”
  • Price – Welsh surname from Rhys
  • Quincy – English surname
  • Reid / Reed – Old English surname meaning “red”
  • Rhodes – Old English name meaning “cleared lands”
  • Royce – Medieval name meaning “rose”
  • Rupert – German form of Robert
  • Sebastian – Greek name meaning “venerable”
  • Spencer – Middle English for pantry or “dispenser of provisions”
  • Sutton – English surname meaning “south town”
  • Sumner – Middle English surname for someone who had to summon witnesses to court
  • Tanner – English occupational surname
  • Tate – Derived from the English name Tata
  • Trey – name meaning “three”
  • Warren – a Norman name meaning “animal enclosure”
  • William – A Germanic name meaning “helmet” it has graced many Kings in history
  • Winston – An Old English place name

Other Baby Names

By the way, if you enjoyed this name round up, you should see some of my other posts such as Strong Baby Boy Names, Biblical Baby Boy Names and Biblical Baby Girl Names. I’d love it if you subscribed to my blog for future posts and don’t forget to PIN this post for later.

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Authentic Mexican Champurrado

It is sweater weather! Today on My Beautiful Mess, I’m sharing a family favorite. Authentic Mexican Champurrado is a thick, earthy, Mexican hot chocolate, perfect for those crisp, Autumn nights.

Fall is my favorite season. I love all things Fall. The bonfires and chilly nights, pumpkins and falling leaves. It’s heaven. I am definitely a pumpkin spice girl and if you haven’t checked out my Pumpkin latte recipe, you don’t know what you are missing! It’s the best ever and uses fresh pumpkin instead of artificial flavors. But I don’t just enjoy pumpkin lattes in the fall. I also love hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Since I’m Latina, I also love Mexican versions of this chocolatey drink.

Mexican hot chocolates have a unique flavor to them. Instead of strait chocolate, sugar and milk, they are made with aromatic spices. Like many Mexican desserts, they are also less sweet than American varieties. Traditional Mexican hot chocolate has bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, cayenne pepper and/or chili powder. The pepper and chili powder added is only a small amount. In fact, you’d probably never know those spices are in there. Today, I’m sharing another special hot chocolate variety. Authentic Mexican Champurrado.

A Quick History Trip

Hot chocolate actually originated in Mexico, and Central and South America. Cocoa beans are indigenous to this area. The Aztecs and Mayans made hot chocolate before the European old world. The Spanish explorers would eventually bring it back to Europe. Because sugarcane was native to Asia, the original versions of this drink were very bitter and an acquired taste as the chocolate was drunk in its pure form.

When Spanish colonists began drinking it they added sugar, sweetening it to the yummy drink we know today. But back then in the sixteenth century, cocoa beans were such a commodity that only the rich and aristocrats could afford it. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a life without chocolate!

Making Authentic Mexican Champurrado

Mexican Champurrado is a warm hot chocolate drink, but it has a slightly different spice palette than traditional Mexican hot chocolate. Instead of chili powders, the drink is made with vanilla, star anise, cinnamon, and piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar). But the biggest difference is that corn masa is added to thicken the drink. This changes the texture quite a bit from traditional hot chocolate drinks. First, it is fairly thick and the texture will be different because of the grain that is in it. When I was a child it reminded me of a chocolate cream of wheat. If it is too thick, you can add some more milk to thin the consistency. As you bring it to a boil, the starches in the masa will break down and act as a thickener. You will need to stir and whisk constantly with a molinillo to avoid any lumps. It should not be grainy or gritty. If it is, you haven’t boiled it long enough.

For the chocolate, you can use Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate tablets. Incidentally, if you want to make traditional Mexican hot chocolate, just use these tablets with milk as I find they are the perfect blend of cocoa, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon which gives it that authentic flavor. Also, you will see that the recipe calls for simmering whole spices in water and then using that fragrant water to add to your chocolate mixture. I highly recommend using this method over ground spices. You will know your water is reading when the water is brown and fragrant. Strain the cinnamon, cloves and star anise out and add the spiced water to your Champurrado mix.

Tools

If you plan on making this often, I recommend buying a molinillo. A molinillo is a wooden Mexican whisk. It helps to froth the milk manually and breakdown the chocolate while blending the spices. The one in my kitchen is well-loved as it has been passed down to me. To use the molinillo, place the whisk head in the hot chocolate pan and roll the handle in the palms of your hands. Other than that all you really need is a large saucepan and of course your favorite mugs for serving. If you don’t have a molinillo you can use a regular whisk, it just won’t froth the milk as well as the molinillo. I find using a whisk doesn’t really alter the taste in any noticeable way.

Serving Champurrado

Champuraddo is very popular on Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) which is the same week as our American Halloween and during Las Posadas during December. We often enjoy it fireside. I love serving authentic Mexican Champurrado with some Mexican desserts like homemade churros or conchas (pan dulce).

Just like American hot chocolate, you can serve it with whipped cream or marshmallows and a cinnamon stick, but it isn’t necessary. I personally think everything is better with whipped cream. If you want, you can also add alcohol or liqueur to it and turn it into an adult hot chocolate. Champurrado does not store well, so drink it up while it is fresh and piping hot.

Authentic Mexican Champurrado

This Mexican style hot chocolate is thick and earthy with aromatic spices like cinnamon, vanilla, star anise, cloves, and piloncillo
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine latin, Mexican
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Molinillo
  • Strainer

Ingredients
  

  • Cups Whole Milk
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Star Anise
  • ¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Whole Clove
  • 1 Tbsp Piloncillo crushed, to taste
  • ¾ Cup Pinole, coarse ground masa flour
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Drink Tablets

Instructions
 

  • In a small saucepan, add water and cinnamon stick, clove, and star anise. If you are using a vanilla pod instead of vanilla extract, add it to the water with the other spices. Boil the water and spices until the water is fragrant (about 10 mins). Then allow it to steep for an additional 2-3 minutes. Strain and reserve spiced water.
  • In another saucepan over medium heat add milk. Add the Mexican chocolate drink tablets and the pinole. Using a molinillo, roll the handle in the palms of your hand to froth the milk and dissolve the pinole and chocolate tablets. If you don't have a molinillo, you can use a whisk. Continue until fully dissolved and chocolate mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes).
  • Remove from heat. Add piloncillo. Let rest until sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes)
  • Add the fragrant water. Stir well and serve.
Keyword atole, champurrado, chocolate, hot chocolate, mexican hot chocolate, milk

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