Thanksgiving is a special time to remember our country’s humble beginnings, a time to gather with family and friends to say, “thank you” for our good fortune. Through these fun activities, children can learn to appreciate the things they have and to give thanks and blessings for a wonderful life.
A Book of Gratitude
Thanksgiving offers a great opportunity to take stock of all the good things in our lives. What better way than to create a catalog? Make a simple book by having your child glue magazine pictures or snapshots to construction paper. Or the child can use his/her own artwork. Included could be family, food, pets, house, toys, and so on. Don’t make this a project your child does alone. Parents should create their own book too. After all, don’t we all have things for which to be grateful?
I’m Thankful Tablecloth
Let the children get involved in holiday preparations by decorating the tablecloth for Thanksgiving dinner. Purchase a paper tablecloth from a party supply store. With crayons and markers the kids can draw pictures of things they are thankful for and also symbolic pictures of the holiday. For a permanent keepsake, use a white fabric table covering along with fabric crayons or markers. Make sure to follow the package directions to heat-set the decorations. Make sure to mark the date on this cloth. Another touch for memorabilia is to have the kids trace around their hands and write their names inside the print.
Make a Gratitude Garland
Thanksgiving is in November, which is the time when autumn leaves are abundant. Have the children cut leaves from construction paper in fall colors or orange, yellow, red, and brown. Give family members and guests a leaf and invite them to write what they are thankful for on the leaf with a black marker. The children can use tape or a stapler and string these onto a long length of ribbon. This garland can be hung along a staircase, unlit fireplace or on the wall for a decoration of blessings.
A Thankful Turkey
This craft will use your child’s handprints and footprint, which is a nice way to remember their features as the years go by. So to begin, trace around your child’s foot and then trace around each hand onto construction paper. I suggest brown for the foot that will be the turkey’s neck and the handprints in fall colors which will resemble the turkey’s tail feathers. The children can write things they are thankful for on each finger of the handprint. Cut these pieces out.
To assemble, glue the footprint onto a lunch size paper plate that has been colored or painted brown. Behind the plate attach the handprints with the fingers pointing up and showing as the tail feathers. Draw facial features (eyes and waddle) with crayons or markers.
ABC Game of Gratitude
As the family sits around the Thanksgiving dinner table, place this game of gratitude using the alphabet. The first player starts with the letter A, and makes a statement like “I am thankful for apples that are in our apple pie dessert”, then the next person uses B and may say, “I am thankful for my baby brother.” Continue around the table with each person using the next letter. Can you get through the entire alphabet?
Native American Feather Awards for Good Deeds
Native Americans were given feathers for each achievement attained. Your children will love to earn some too. Make a construction paper headband to fit around your child’s head and staple shut. Set up a chore or project list at home. Parents can cut out paper feathers in fall colors. Staple a feather onto your child’s headband for each good deed they have completed. The kids will be proud to wear this headdress of honor!
A Snack of Gratitude
The ingredients of this snack mix has symbols that relate to the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared their blessings together. Mix several cups of each ingredient together in a large bowl to make this snack mix for the family to enjoy.
Bugles (brand) Corn Snack – there are shaped like cornucopias, also called horn of plenty
Knot-shaped Pretzels – these look like arms folded in thanks and prayers
Candy Corn – Pilgrims were only allotted five kernels of corn per day, as food was scarce
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots) – Thanksgiving is a celebration of the fall harvest
Sunflower or Pumpkin seeds – these represent hope for a bounteous harvest next season
Any one of these activities teach valuable lessons in gratitude. Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!
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