Thanksgiving is a holiday that was inaugurated by American colonists who had fled Europe seeking freedom to worship God as they saw fit, so this holiday is an especially appropriate one to introduce into the Sunday School classroom. Lessons involving Bible verses and craft activity ideas can help preschool and grade school kids understand the concept of thankfulness -- thankfulness for God and for the world around them.
Other People Are Reading
The notice board idea works well for all young children. Create a stack of white cut-outs -- silhouettes of Pilgrim/Native American heads, fall leaves, pumpkins, turkeys, etc. You will need at least twice as many as the students in your classroom. Have each student fill out one or two of the cut-outs with images or words describing what each one is thankful for. Post these on a Thanksgiving themed notice board. You could begin this project on the Sunday after Halloween and add to it each Sunday in November.
The Prodigal Son
Read (from Luke: Chapter 15) the story of the prodigal son to your Sunday school class. Talk with your students about each of the main characters (the father, the steadfast son, the lost son). Ask questions like, What actions does each person take? How does each regard his life at the beginning and the end of the story? Which character do the children believe is most thankful? Why? What should each of the characters be thankful for in his life? Are they? Have your students act this story out in a simple way, emphasising the thankfulness (or lack of it) in each character.
The gift idea might take some weeks to complete, so you should start it just after Halloween. Have the children consider the person whom they are most thankful for in their life. Have the students make a list of things about this person for which they are thankful. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, have the students create a place mat out of construction or poster paper, decorating it with fall leaves and creating, in the centre, a poem about their thankfulness for the individual they have selected. Tie each place mat with a pretty ribbon and have the children give their special person the placemat as a Thanksgiving gift.
Make a Joyful Noise
Singing is a stimulating Sunday school lesson for celebrating Thanksgiving. A song like "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," which has lyrics that emphasise praise and thanksgiving for God, can be learnt by even very young children. Have the children learn the song and lead them in creating a dance of thanksgiving to go along with their singing. If you have some simple children's instruments like triangles, recorders, or tambourines , include these in your song of joyful thanksgiving. The children could perform their song as a part of a service on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
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