November 26, 2014
My favorite holiday is nearly upon us! I survived a sea of grocery shoppers tonight so now I can be excited about the upcoming family, friends, food, and the beautiful opportunity to stop and focus on giving thanks! The cool fall breeze is in the air, the food is ready to be prepared with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background, and my heart is ready. I am excited!
Teaching your children to be thankful is an every day task, but this Thanksgiving, use this wonderful holiday as a special opportunity to teach your children gratitude. Here are some specific ideas for your little ones this Thanksgiving:
1. Thankfulness Turkey
I love creating a large, paper Thankfulness Turkey! It makes such a festive greeting activity. The best part is everyone can participate and it is super simple. Think of your classic ice-breaker meets pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, but with Turkey Day style. Cut out the body of a paper turkey and have your children cut out different colored feathers. As each of your guests arrive, ask your children to greet each guest and have everyone write down a few things they are thankful for on the feather. Let your children put them on the body of the turkey to make a beautiful Thankfulness Turkey! Download this turkey printout for the cutouts to make it easy and simple. This activity helps everyone identify what they are thankful for and it is a great visual reminder for children. Here is an example of what the completed Thankfulness Turkey looks like, compliments of the little ones where I work!
2. Honor Cards
To mix up traditional place card holders, get small blank note cards. Write names on the front of the card, and let your child write a special note inside for that guest. For younger children, ask them to come up with words that describe that guest and for older children ask them to write why that person is special to them and why they are thankful for that guest. Not only does it teach thankfulness, honor, and literacy skills to children, but it will make your guests feel so special!
3. “Alphabet Thanks”
This is the PERFECT game for younger children, especially ages 3-6 years old! Get a set of plastic alphabet letters and put them in a large bowl. Have the kids sit in a circle and take turns drawing a letter. Once they pick a letter, ask that child to describe something that starts with that letter that they are thankful for. Learning letters + teaching thankfulness = awesome!
4. Collecting Food
Nothing teaches children thankfulness quite like giving to others! Teaching children to remember others who are hungry this holiday season is so important. Have your children ask guests to bring a canned food item to dinner. Make sure to put your child in charge of asking and collecting! Remember, it’s about teaching them, not giving mom another project. For your ambitious child, walking door to door together and asking if neighbors would like to participate by donating canned goods is a great idea. Then make a trip to your local food collecting charity to deliver the goods!
It will create a healthy sense of accomplishment for your child. Teaching children to give and be considerate of others is a huge accomplishment after all!
Along the same line of giving to others, volunteering at charities together is wonderfu
l for your child, especially older children and young adults. Working in soup kitchens will give your child a new perspective on life. I have so many amazing memories from volunteering as a teenager at the Salvation Army collecting, organizing, and distributing gifts for other children. Bring the old adage, “it’s better to give than to receive” alive for your kids!
6. Family Sharing
Lastly, and my personal favorite, is family sharing time. Sometimes the simplest activities are always the best. Don’t miss the opportunity to do this at your Thanksgiving festivities this year. After everyone has had an opportunity to enjoy food and fellowship, take time to sit down together and ask each person to share what they are thankful for. No matter the age, everyone can participate. This is a beautiful opportunity to let people reflect on the past year and share their experiences. Our family inevitably laughs, cries, and rejoices together and it is beautiful. Make it your new family tradition!
Here at Kid Nurse, I wish you and your family a most blessed Thanksgiving! I hope these ideas add to the joy and fun during your celebration, and most importantly, create opportunities to reflect on the abundant blessings in our lives!
What are your Thanksgiving family traditions? How do you teach your child to be thankful? Please share below!