Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for several reasons. First, it is the chance to gather with friends and family for a festive meal. It begins the traditional holiday season. And finally, it presents a wonderful opportunity to teach young children the concept of gratitude. Little ones are egocentric by nature. Their needs and desires take center stage in their world, often with little thought about others in their lives. Thanksgiving is the natural time to help your child understand how others help him and become grateful for the wonderful people and things in his life. This is a process, though, and starting early is the key. With repeated exposure to the concept of gratitude, your little one will learn the importance of recognizing and appreciating the many gifts in his life. The following ideas are suggestions for ways to help your child grasp the meaning of being thankful.
Read stories about Thanksgiving. There are loads of appealing picture books to read aloud and promote discussions about being thankful. Some of my favorites include:
- The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli - When a family’s perfect Thanksgiving dinner is compared to another family’s Thanksgiving disaster, the author, using a child’s voice, realizes that the two families are identical in the love that they share.
- Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland - This book highlights the things that make us happy, especially our family, with simple and beautiful illustrations.
- The Thankful Book by Todd Parr - With his colorful and bold illustrations, the author highlights the many things that children are thankful for. Your child may even have some ideas to add to his list!
- What Is Thanksgiving? by Michelle Medlock Adams - The author’s rhyming verse and the adorable illustrations help children understand how to appreciate the wonderful things they have in their lives.
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig - While not specifically about Thanksgiving, this beautifully written and illustrated story tells about how a young donkey learns the meaning of being grateful. This is actually one of my all-time favorite picture books!
There are also stories that factually introduce the first thanksgiving in simple and easy to understand text.
- Thanksgiving Is . . . by Gail Gibbons - A wonderful resource for young people about the Thanksgiving holiday.
- My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola - This book is a beautiful introduction to the early settlers and this important holiday. Your child may be familiar with this author and his adorable illustrations.
- The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern - This is a factual account of Pilgrim life at Plymouth Colony told with easy text.
- One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessy - Your child will learn how ten Pilgrim children and ten Wampanoag children preparing for the Thanksgiving celebration. For added fun, try singing the verses with the tune of the well-known song.
- T is for Turkey by Tanya Lee Stone - Using the alphabet and rhymes, the author tells the story about the first Thanksgiving.
And then there are some stories around the thanksgiving theme that are just fun to read!
- Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano - This is a story about the clever and adorable ways a turkey tries to disguise himself to avoid being the main course at the Thanksgiving dinner.
- ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey - This popular children’s author offers his version of the well-known holiday classic that features eight school children on a field trip to a turkey farm.
- Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes - A beautifully illustrated story with rhyming text that reminds young children about all of life’s pleasures, both big and small.
- The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing - In the style of the popular story, The Night Before Christmas, this light-hearted story tells about preparations for Thanksgiving in an entertaining way.
You can also introduce some fun Thanksgiving worksheets to promote learning and provide skill practice.
Reading and writing are great activities for young kids, but there are also wonderful math activities for kids to try this Thanksgiving. These Thanksgiving math worksheets focus on fundamental kindergarten and preschool math concepts: counting, sorting, graphing, and patterning.
Finally, ask your child to draw pictures of the people and things he is thankful for. Your can display the pictures around the house as decorations for the Thanksgiving holiday. You can help your child label the pictures by allowing him to dictate his words for you to write or by suggesting that he use inventive spelling to write his words independently.
Let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving!