Friday, November 17, 2017

baskets of thanks

I love Thanksgiving!  I think of it as a pure holiday, in the sense that it is still centered on gathering with those we love around a table of thanks.  It's not as commercialized, and it's not about receiving anything, but rather giving thanks for what we have.  However, gratitude and thanksgiving are virtues that children learn through modelling and practice, which is precisely the goal of this lesson!


A Thanksgiving Basket makes gratitude a tangible, concrete concept for young children.  I fill a basket with a variety of objects found around my home or classroom, representing things to be thankful for.  I cover the basket with a nice cloth and place it in front of the class for the children to see as we do praise and worship.  They literally beg me to start the lesson because they are so anxious to see what is in the basket!

I pull out each item, and briefly discuss what it is and why I am thankful for it.  If I have the right item to child ratio, I like to hand each item to a child to hold for the duration of the lesson, adding a bit more interest, and motivation for the children to stay engaged, because of course they may only hold an item if they are sitting quietly on the carpet. 😉

Here is what I typically include in my Thanksgiving Basket.  I'm sure you will have other ideas of your own!
  • family picture - of me with my family when I was a little girl, and of my husband and I now
  • house - small doll house (a Lego house is another suggestion)
  • food - a box of snacks, which I share with children who were sitting "criss-cross applesauce on your bottom" (This gets everyone sitting quietly very quickly, so I make sure to pull it out when I can see that they are starting to get antsy!)
  • clothing - an accessory or article of clothing
  • picture book - representing toys and books
  • car - a toy car or car keys
  • beautiful picture of the desert - since that is our environment here in Tucson
  • small pillow - to represent my bed
  • pets - animal figurines or stuffed animals
  • Bible
  • small wooden cross
  • picture of Jesus in Heaven
  • white (clean) heart - forgiveness of sins
  • picture of our church
As I put each item back into the basket, I invite the children to say with me, "Thank You Jesus for my family!"  "Thank You Jesus for my house!", and so on. 


This is a fun craft, with minimal prep, to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in your littles!

You will need:
  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • hole punch
  • chenille stems
  • water colors
  • this print out
  • card stock
  • crayons
To prepare, cut and fold a paper plate for each child as illustrated here.  I have found that the baskets hold together better with staples rather than tape. Punch two holes at opposite ends of the basket.  Place the ends of a chenille stem through each hole, twisting the stem around itself to secure it.  Print this print out on card stock, and cut out a card for each child.

In class, provide water colors for the children to paint their own Thanksgiving Baskets.  Give each child a Thank You God card to color (or paint) and place in their basket.  As they color, discuss the pictures and other things that they are thankful for.

bring it home

To teach and/or reinforce this lesson at home why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition?!  Give each of your little ones a basket, and help them fill it with things for which they are thankful.  Your children will quickly catch on to this concept and be able to fill their baskets themselves as they focus on the blessings in their life.  Of course you may offer suggestions, but it's also fun to see what they deem as important, and add to their own basket.  Encourage them to bring their Thanksgiving Baskets to dinner to share with family and friends to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive and well in your family.  If you do, snap a picture and tag me @faithsprouts on Instagram.  Happy Giving Thanks!