Encouraging the "Thanks" in Thanksgiving

I love this time of year. The leaves turn many shades of beautiful, people wrap themselves in comfortable sweaters, and something about the air feels different as it turns crisp and cool. The fall season sets itself apart in beauty and the promise of something new. It’s a time to think about the past year and what God has done in our lives.

November is my favorite month—and not just because it’s my birthday month (shout out to my fellow November birthdays!). This month is the time when we give thanks for the many provisions, blessings, lessons, and growing moments God has given us. With Thanksgiving in our line of sight, why not start counting our blessings a little early?

Put the beauty of November to good use as you spend this month focusing on thankfulness. Teach your GAs, RAs, and CAs about the meaning of thankfulness and why we give praise and glory to God for everything from joys to hardships. Try these ideas to get your kids into a spirit of thankfulness as November kicks off:

  • Cut out (or have kids cut out tracings) of leaves on different fall shades of construction paper. Make time in your meeting for kids to think about the things they’re thankful for. Help younger kids by writing down what they say. One option is to use brown butcher paper to create a tree trunk on your wall and have kids attach their thankfulness leaves to the tree. Thank God in prayer for each of the blessings. An even more fun option is to pile the leaves together like a leaf pile. Have kids scoop up the leaves and throw them into the air. Let them land and have kids find a leaf or two to focus on during a prayer of thanksgiving.
  • Buy some fall-themed stickers to reward moments of thankfulness throughout this month. Anytime one of your kids shows thankfulness during your meetings, reward them with a sticker. This will encourage your kids as they each try to get more stickers and will teach them more about being thankful. Customize this idea for your group by displaying a thankfulness chart, passing out sticker journals, or simply giving stickers for kids to place on their shirts or hands.
  • Have kids write a skit about being thankful. Encourage them to show moments of thankfulness in times of blessings and times of hardships. Have them perform the skit for other groups in your church. You could even request for kids to perform during a church service closer to Thanksgiving.

Don’t miss an opportunity to get your family into a thankful spirit this month, either! A thankful family is a happy family. Help your family focus on the goodness of God by customizing each of the above ideas. Here are some suggestions:

  • Have each family member create thankfulness leaves throughout the month. Add them to a butcher paper tree on your wall or even put up a small tree decoration on which paper leaves can be added.
  • Customize the sticker idea by choosing your own elements. Will you reward with stickers? Words of encouragement? Baked goods?
  • Write a skit with your family about being thankful during times of blessings and times of hardships. Perform the skit on Thanksgiving to share with all of your loved ones.
  • Or, try a different idea for your family! Create a word cloud on a large piece of paper. Throughout the month, encourage your family to add words to the paper that describe what they’re thankful for. Let the words be placed at random with different angles and font styles until a word cloud forms. Hang it up in a place of prominence for your Thanksgiving celebration.

Enjoy this month! It’s a time of reflection on what God has done this past year and a time to praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness. Don’t let thankful spirits only show up on Thanksgiving Day. Let your praise and thankfulness shine for God at every moment.

Jessica Graham copyedits children’s materials at national WMU. She loved writing about her favorite month and the blessings of Thanksgiving on her actual birthday!

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