By Jenna Townson
What’s something you’re thankful for today? God calls us to be a thankful people. Do the kids in your life have thankful hearts? Teaching kids to cultivate thanksgiving is a great lesson, not just for November, but for all year—every year!
Here are four ideas for helping the kids in your life to be thankful.
First, create a Thank-You Chart for kids to track what they’re thankful for. It can be on poster board or designed on a computer. Add a column for each day of the week, and enough rows for the length that best works for your schedule. Then decorate it as you wish. Each day, help kids write down three things they are thankful to God for. Making a chart like this also creates opportunity to talk about being thankful for the ways God provides. You could ask kids to think about the way each thing they are thankful for was given to them by God.
For example, over lunch one day my niece asked me where we get chocolate milk. I told her, “God gave us cows that make milk. He also gave us chocolate. And then God gave someone the idea to put them together and now we have chocolate milk. So, we can tell God thank you for chocolate milk.” It was simple conversation, but hopefully it helped her see how God is the one who provides good gifts. Conversations like these remind both the kids—and us—that we can tell God thank you for even the simple joys in life, like chocolate milk. When the chart is full, take time with the kids to look back and admire all the wonderful things God provided. You can keep the filled chart on a wall as a visual reminder to be thankful.
Play “Crack the Code.” Do your kids enjoy mysteries and puzzles? Use this second idea to teach kids about thankfulness by playing “Crack the Code.” On a dry erase board or piece of paper, write the first letter of each word to 1 Thessalonians 5:18. For example, instead of writing “give thanks in all circumstances…” you would write, “1 T 5 18 G T I A C ”. You can vary the secret code depending on the age of the kids. A group of kids can race to see who can crack the code first. Give helps as needed, leading them to look in the Bible for the answer. Once they’ve cracked the code, talk about what the verse means. Ask them, “How can you give thanks in all circumstances?” Challenge them to think about ways they can be thankful to God on good days, bad days, and the in-between days.
Play “I Spy, Thank You Edition.” Here’s an idea for when you’re waiting or riding in the car with kids. It’s a simple game you can play to encourage thanksgiving called, “I Spy, Thank You Edition.” You can play this with one or more kids. Start by saying something like, “I spy something I’m thankful for that’s big and white.” It has to describe something everyone can clearly see. Kids can take turns guessing. When they figure it out, tell them why you are thankful for it. For example, you can say, “I thank God for clouds because sometimes they have funny shapes that makes me smile.” Give turns for the kids to “spy” something and have them share why they’re thankful.
Make a thank you card to God. For the fourth idea, you can help kids develop a thankful heart by having them design and write thank you cards to God. Encourage them to be creative and include more than one thing they are thankful for. They can use secret codes, draw pictures, or even write a poem or song to God. You may want to have several sample ideas to spark kids’ creativity and also show them that you like to thank God as well. After they’re finished, take time to pray and thank God together. Having the kids pray out loud with you, not only encourages them to give thanks, but also helps build an openness to praying with others. After you pray, remind the kids that God loves to hear our thankful prayers all year ‘round!
Happy thanks giving!
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