Have you ever wished that you could think of more ways to mark Thanksgiving Day other than just baking a huge Turkey and watching football? The month of November seems like the perfect time to teach kids about gratefulness and the spirit of Thanksgiving, so here are 25 Thanksgiving Family Activities, one for each day until Thanksgiving Day.
1. Make a “Thankful Pumpkin”
A Thankful Pumpkin is a pumpkin on which each person in your family each day writes what they are thankful for, and remember NO REPEATS! Once your kids get past their toys and friends and family; they start really thinking and realize that they are thankful for air, clean water, and good food.
2. Start Learning the Doxology
The Doxology is the hymn that the Pilgrims sang when they sited Cape Cod.
3. Thank Your Teachers
Write a quick note to say thank you and deliver it. If you homeschool, you can do this for a music teacher or coach or anyone who teaches your child an extracurricular activity.
4. Make and Deliver Cookies
Make a plate of thank you cookies and take them to the police station, fire station, or military base. Have your kids express their thankfulness because they are kept safe!
5. Read Scripture or Quotes
Read scriptures or special quotes of thankfulness each day. This could also be a handwriting exercise for school age kids.
6. Thank Your Pastor
Make a Thank you card for your pastor, and have each person in your family write down why they are thankful for him or her. If you don’t go to church you could do this for someone that you feel has a great impact on your life and the life of your family.
Take some time and decorate your house as a family. Make a Thanksgiving centerpiece or decorate with pumpkins and artificial leaves around the house.
8. Treat Your Garbage Collector
Make a nice hot cup of coffee, cookies, or a thank you note for your garbage collector and make sure that your kids tell him how they are thankful that he keeps the neighborhood clean and smelling nice. This can be a good time to talk with your school age kids about the cities of the Middle Ages and why there was so much disease.
9. Pay for Someone’s Coffee
Pay for someone’s coffee. Make sure you do this while your kids are with you and include them in it. They get so excited about stuff like this (and I do too).
10. Bedtime Thankfulness
When telling your kids good night and/or tucking them into bed, tell them why you’re thankful for them. Try choosing something different every day for each child. Modeling this for your child is the best way for them to learn how to also do it.
11. Appreciate Your Pets
Do something special for your pets to show how much you love and appreciate them. Take them for a walk, brush them, play with them, etc.
Volunteer at a food pantry, shelter, the hospital, your school, or church.
13. Thank the Mailman
Write a thank you note for the mail carrier and put it in your mailbox to brighten their day.
14. Donate a Turkey
Buy and deliver a turkey to a family in need. If you don’t know of someone in need, your church or a nearby shelter may be able to help you.
15. The Thanksgiving Story
Begin reading “The Thanksgiving Story” and talk about how hungry the Pilgrims must have been. You could also have your school age kids do a study on the hungry in Africa and India as a current event report.
16. Thanksgiving Movies
Watch Thanksgiving movies. Charlie Brown’s Mayflower Voyage and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving are awesome for younger kids. Hallmark’s Thanksgiving House is fun for some and has some historical facts in it. Saints and Strangers or The Pilgrims maybe interesting for others.
17. Thank a Neighbor
Thank your neighbors by writing a note, taking them a treat, or by helping them with lawn work.
18. Bake a Pie
Use your Thankful Pumpkin to bake a pie.
19. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Roast pumpkin seeds together from your Thankful Pumpkin.
20. Make a Thankful Tree
Have your kids trace their hands onto colored paper and cut them out to make “leaves”. Cut a few twigs from an outside tree and arrange them in a vase. Everyone that comes to Thanksgiving dinner must write what they are thankful for on one of the “leaves” and tape it onto the twigs to create a thanksgiving tree. At dinner time, read what everyone is thankful for. If you don’t want to make a tree, you could make a Thankful jar.
21. Help with a Chore
Notice when a family member is busy doing chores and offer to help them or finish the chore for them.
22. The Best Part of Your Day
Share the best part of your day with your family during dinner. Thinking about the best parts of your day lends itself to being more thankful and positive.
23. Try Something New
Create new memories together to be thankful for by trying something new, whether it is a new recipe to cook together, a new place to visit together, or a new experience.
24. Turkey Handprint Keepsakes
Make turkey handprint keepsakes. Trace your child’s hand and show them how to turn the fingers into feathers by coloring them in and the thumb into the turkey’s head. We love looking back to see how small the kids’ hands were!
25. Be Thankful for the Earth
Show your gratitude for the Earth and all that it provides by helping the Earth in some way. For example, plant something new (start inside and transfer outside in the spring), learn to compost, or recycle.
You may not have time to do each one of these Thanksgiving Family Activities and that’s not the point. Remember that teaching gratefulness is not a contest. Choose the activities that you believe will be meaningful for your family, use them in a way that benefits all of you the most, and have fun together!