Here are activities to do with the whole family that help make Thanksgiving about giving thanks and appreciating all the good things children have in their lives.
Make Thanksgiving Cards
Make cards with kids to hand out for Thanksgiving. It can be as simple as folding some construction paper in half and gluing a dried leaf on the front. Collect some fallen leaves in a variety of colors. Choose from pressing them flat in books or letting them crinkle up and dry for a more 3D effect on the card. Then simply glue them to the front of the card. If doing the latter, then either don’t glue the leaf on until after the child has written the message inside, or cut out a square of paper and have the child write on that – and then glue that inside the card.
Have kids write a card for each person who is coming over for Thanksgiving or have them give them to the friends and family that are important in their life. Parents may need to write out the message for younger children. It’s also a good idea for parents to make and give cards of thanks to their children. Even though older kids might not say anything, all kids like to be noticed for doing a good job and hear that they are appreciated.
Thankful List and Poster of Thanks
Parents can talk to kids about what they are thankful for in life. Then get the kids to talk about all the things they are thankful for and create a list. Make it a fun brainstorming session. Then parents can get a large piece of poster paper and get kids to help write out what they are thankful for together and draw and doodle pictures to go with their words. Then the poster can be taped up over the kitchen table and be part of Thanksgiving dinner decorations.
It can become a part of family tradition and it’s a nice conversation topic for family and friends who come over for Thanksgiving.
Giving to Others for Thanksgiving
After talking with kids about the many people and things they are thankful for in life, have a discussion about how they can share what they have with others who are in need. Some ideas include donating clothes and toys that are in good shape to a local charity or creating a Thanksgiving care package to donate to a local food bank. Donating time, like helping serve up Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter or visiting a seniors home are also things that a family can get involved in.
First Nations People and World Peace
Talk to kids about how European traders who came to North America are lucky that the indigenous people they met decided to help them out. Living in a new place means dealing with new food, a new culture, new climate, etc. It can be very difficult, and in the case of Canadian winters, even deadly. Help children understand how it is important to be kind to people who are new to the country they call home. An example kids can relate to is having empathy for new kids to their school.
For older kids, talk about how the concept of the ownership of land has caused problems here and around the world. Talk to kids about how First Nations and Native Americans have been treated historically and if they think more change is needed in our world. Children should be proud of their heritage, but it is most important to see that they are all part of one big family, the human race.
Thanksgiving is a great time to talk with kids about the history of North America, and also about the importance of being thankful and appreciative for all that they have in their lives. Create thanksgiving cards and hand them out to family and friends. Create a Thanksgiving poster and make it a centrepiece in the kitchen for the big family meal. It’s also a great time to talk about sharing what the family has by donating to a local charity or food bank.