Giving Thanks

13 creative ways to encourage gratefulness this thanksgiving

Turkey Day! It's the name little ones often use to refer to Thanksgiving. And no wonder. From the moment we put that big bird in the oven till the last of the leftovers are gone, the focus of Thanksgiving is usually the food. But most of us would like to move "beyond the turkey" and teach our kids what it really means to be thankful.

This year, take advantage of the Thanksgiving season and use it as a chance to nurture a sense of real gratitude in your family. The Bible tells us to "give thanks to the Lord, for he is good" (Psalm 107:1) and to "enter his gates with thanksgiving" (Psalm 100:4). That attitude is often lost in our "I want more" culture, and encouraging thankfulness in children is no small task. But when children understand what it means to be grateful, they begin to develop an awareness of all that God has given them as well as a sense of real contentment. These ideas can help:


Make your children aware of America's early history and the true background of Thanksgiving.

1. Read about it. Check out children's books that recount great stories for this season, like Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas (Tommy Nelson). Historically accurate accounts of the story of Pocahontas also give your children a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding Thanksgiving.

2. Go hunting. Plan a Pilgrim scavenger hunt. Give each participant a basket and a list of items the Pilgrims might have been familiar with. Then hide these objects throughout the house or the yard for your kids to find: dried corn, small pumpkins, pinecones, a toy boat, small Native American figures.


Children of all ages love stories. Take advantage of their natural interest by using stories to reinforce the importance of gratitude in our lives.

3. Act it out. Read the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). Remind your children that Jesus was pleased with the one man who returned to give thanks for being healed. Provide rags for bandages and let your children play the roles of the lepers and Jesus.

4. Make some noise. Look up the story of the Israelites' celebration after the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt (Nehemiah 12:27-46). Talk about the instruments they used and the two great choirs that marched atop the walls to the temple. Your kids will love the idea of the joyous, active "thanksgiving" that could be heard "far away" (Nehemiah 12:43b).

Put together a home-grown band using real or handmade instruments. Practice joyful praise songs and march around the "walls".

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