Posted by: coachingparents | October 9, 2007

Thanksgiving with a Twist

By  Dr. Caron B. Goode

Thanksgiving is a celebration of life’s bounty. On the fourth Thursday in November we gather to give thanks for health, prosperity, and love. For adults this can be cathartic, but what about the children? In school, our sons and daughters are taught the historic significance of Thanksgiving. But do they know what the Pilgrims and your family have in common?

This year, connect the dots for your kids. Show them what Thanksgiving means to you and your loved ones. Encourage them to ask family and friends what they are most thankful for. Then illustrate their answers with one of the following Thanksgiving Day projects. These projects will keep your children engaged and connected to the spirit of gratitude.

New Thanksgiving Day Traditions

  • Rising Star. Have a little Spielberg? Why not have her make a gratitude documentary? Filming guests share what they are thankful for helps your child better relate to gratitude as it exists in her world. It also makes a great keepsake that your family will appreciate for years to come.
  • Places Please. This simple Thanksgiving Day project is another concrete way for children to experience gratitude. Ideal for younger children, this project only requires construction paper, markers, curiosity, and imagination. Fold pieces of construction paper in half to make a place card. Write each guest’s name on one side of a card. Then divide the cards among the children and have them ask their guests what they are celebrating. The children can write responses on the side of the card opposite the guest’s name. If necessary, older children can help the younger children record answers. When all the guests have been questioned, have the children return to the art area to illustrate the name side of their cards with pictures of your guests. Then letting the seating arrangements begin.
  • Sounds Like. Children and adults alike can utilize the above place cards for a lively game of charades. Imagine the fun you will have acting out the characters in your group and what they are celebrating!
  • The Same Page. Like the place cards, this project is very adaptable for younger children. Write the name of each guest at the top of a piece of construction paper. Divide the pages among the children and have them ask your guests what they are grateful for and record their answers. Then ask the children to draw a picture that represents each answer. Be sure that all of the children contribute to the cover illustration and title. When all the pages are complete, bind the book by punching holes along one edge and securing with colorful yarn or string.
  • Story Time. More verbal children may be interested in telling stories that describe your guests and what they are grateful for. Like the above projects, have the children ask each guest what they are celebrating. Then ask them to imagine how this Thanksgiving blessing came to be. You may offer them prompts such as “When Uncle Harry was a little boy…” or “Grandma was walking down the street one day…” Then sit back and enjoy the show.

Serving up these new traditions is a great way to help your children understand why your family celebrates Thanksgiving. Projects such as these can also spice up your day and remind everyone that Thanksgiving is about more than pumpkin pie.
Caron Goode, Ed.D. draws insight from fifteen years in private psychotherapy practice and thirty years in the fields of education, personal empowerment, and health and wellness. She is the author of ten books and the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents, a training program for parents and professionals who wish to mentor other parents. Caron is a mom and step-mom, who lives with her husband in Ft. Worth, Texas. She can be reached at


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