10 Ways to Encourage Kids to Give Thanks

Article November 9, 2023

Thanksgiving is just weeks away. To help you and the kids you serve celebrate, here are 10 activities you can plan, with minimal prep. Some of them are fun ways to celebrate the holiday; others will help children think more seriously about the meaning of giving thanks! 

1. Thanks chain
For the two or three weeks before Thanksgiving, give each child a strip of construction paper. Ask them to write something they’re thankful for on the paper. Connect the strips into a “thanks” paper chain and decorate a room.

2. Can contest
Challenge kids to bring in canned food for your church’s or local food bank. Line the cans up end to end. The winning team is the one with the longest line.

3. Memorize Psalm 145:10
Help kids memorize Psalm 145:10 with this Memory Melody video and coloring page and remind kids we can give thanks- in November and all year long.

4. Thanksgiving handprints
Make handprints by helping each kid trace their hand on a piece of paper. Write “Give Thanks” on the page. Ask them to write something they’re thankful for on each finger of the print. Discuss ways we can use our hands to serve others.

5. Act it out
Talk about the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and how just one came back to thank God. Give the kids an opportunity to act out the story. (You could go through it two or three times to give everyone a chance to participate.) Ask: Are you thankful? What are you thankful for?

6. Pray
Teach children to emphasize thanksgiving when they pray. (Kids are often taught to ask for things in their prayers rather than express thankfulness for all they have.)

7. Thanksgiving cards
Provide everyone with blank postcards, stickers and markers. Have them make Thanksgiving cards for individuals in the congregation who are bedridden, or residents of a local nursing home.

8. Sing your thanks
Teach your kids songs about thanksgiving. The songs don’t necessarily have to be about the holiday; they can be about thanking God at any time.

9. Write a Thanksgiving book
As a big group (or maybe a small group) activity, see if you can come up with something to be thankful for, starting with every letter of the alphabet. Kids could each draw a picture for a different letter. Collect all the pictures into a book. This could be a club tradition, and you could save the books from year to year.

10. Thankful tree
Give each child a construction paper leaf or two. Have each child write on a leaf something they are thankful for. Tie the leaves onto a branch and “plant” the branch in a flowerpot so that you have a thanks tree.


The original blog was published by Linda Weddle. It has been updated by the Awana Editorial Team.