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A Time to be Thankful

happy thanksgiving

If you are into social media, you will see that everyone is posting what they are thankful for this month. It comes fairly easy for adults, but what about children? Do children, especially young children, know what it means to be thankful?  Probably not.  That’s why we need to teach them!

At this time of year in early childhood centers all over, classroom themes typically revolve around the fact that at the end of the month there is a holiday called Thanksgiving.  Some themes include harvest, turkey’s, foods and more.  Currently in our school, our toddlers are learning about different foods and our preschoolers are beginning to learn about being thankful.

So, how do you teach about being thankful to preschool aged children?  Well, first, don’t expect them to be thankful for things such as food to eat, clothes to wear, a house to live in, etc. We have heard little ones tell an array of things over the years from having a mommy/daddy that loves me to having a specific toy to play with.  It doesn’t matter what the children say that they are thankful for, what matters is that they are starting to learn what it means to be thankful for something.

Let’s get to the fun stuff…how to teach kids to be thankful.  Here are two ideas…

 Thankful Turkey

Make a Thankful Turkey.  First, you will need a turkey body cut out like this one:


You can print on brown paper or color. Attach it to the wall where it can be seen each day.  Next, you will need some feathers like these:

feathers I do suggest printing these on color paper.  You can use color printer paper or construction paper.  If using construction paper, you will need to trim the edges to be the same size as printer paper. Once you have your feathers, put them in a bag, box, etc. and have your child choose one each day. Tell your child that you are going to make a Thankful Turkey and you are going to give it a new feather each day. You may want to do one to start. Think of something “easy” you are thankful for, write it on the feather and attach it to the turkey. Next, have your child think of something.  You can help if needed of course. Next, let your child choose if he/she wants you to write his/her answer on the feather, if he/she wants to draw a picture to represent their answer,  if he/she wants to write their answer, or a combination.  Finally, on Thanksgiving Day, talk about all the feathers with family members!

Tip…this is an activity that can grow with children and can become a family tradition. Children may start with you writing, move to them drawing and ultimately they will be able to write their response themselves. Keep some of the feathers to see how their responses change as they grow!

Thankful Box

This idea is the same concept as above. It may be a better idea if you are not celebrating Thanksgiving at home as the box is much more mobile. Here is what  you need to do.  First, you need a box.  Any type of box will work-a shoe box or tissue box may be the easiest “on hand” choices. Decorate the box anyway you and your children want.  You could paint the box, glue torn or cut pieces of fall colored paper on the box, use stickers, etc. (These all work on fine motor skills as well!) Make it fun and get creative!

Next you will need something to write on.  You could use the feathers from above, scrap paper, index cards, etc. Follow the same process as above regarding documenting what your child(ren) is thankful for. Collect all responses in the box and read them over Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are some books to read about being thankful:

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