Thanksgiving is a festive time of year for friends and family to get together and reminisce on everything for which they are thankful for. Such a meaningful tradition can be difficult for small children to understand, and even older children sometimes forget the real reason we come together during this time of year. It’s much more than a few days off from school, a five day weekend, a feast of savory food and an abundance of pies. Thanksgiving is one of the only holidays children can learn about sharing, community, gratitude and compassion for others.
Here are some great ideas to help get you and your children in the Thanksgiving spirit and learn more about the history and meaning of the holiday:
Make a Thankful Tree—In recent years, creating a Thankful Tree at home has become a very popular idea. The best thing about it? You can make it any way you want! You can collect branches and arranged them in a pot, and even make a winter tree out of brown mailing paper and tape it to the wall. You can print out colored leaves or have the kids make their own using colored cardstock or construction paper. Need some ideas? Just search for “Thankful Trees” on Pinterest for inspiration!
Sail the Mayflower—Who knew there were so many different ways to build a ship? Dig through your recycling bin, if you have one, and ask your kids to create their own mini version of the Mayflower. Your family can study more about the real story behind this famous ship at MayflowerHistory.com. The ships and thankful trees are great center piece ideas for the dinner table.
Cook the Big Family Meal Together—Food is the best part of the holiday! Take the time to cook with your kids and show them how to prepare the meal. It’s a great bonding experience and even more of a learning opportunity.
Make a Family Heirloom—It’s easy, creative, and an instant heirloom to be treasured forever. You could make a Thanksgiving tablecloth or runner and have everyone sign and date it each year, create a picture frame or special center piece. Use your imagination!
Volunteer – One of the best ways for children to truly experience the holiday season is to give back by volunteering. Visit a shelter and serve meals, help with a food or clothing drive, cook up a special dish and deliver it to a fire or police station or visit patients in the hospital or retirement homes. Volunteering helps children see all they have to be grateful for and also gives those less fortunate things to be thankful for.