Be sure your kids grasp the
meaning of the day by highlighting the "thanks" in Thanksgiving with a few quick activities:
• For the month of November, make a Thankful Calendar and have the kids fill in something new to be thankful for every day until Thanksgiving Thursday. This can range from family members they love to new toys, just as long as they're reminded of the concept of gratefulness.
• Bake cookies with your children and have them decorate a cookie for each friend they're happy to have. Help them write notes explaining the gift, and deliver the cookies before Thanksgiving.
• Volunteer at a local shelter. Nothing brings your child's good fortune into focus better than spending time with those who have less. Encourage your child to talk to the folks at the shelter. Your kiddie will brighten their days, and it will help your child understand that these are just normal people who have hit hard times.
• Take thank-you pics. Use your digital camera to shoot photos of your child holding up a homemade thank-you sign for a gift or kind gesture from a relative who is far away. Email the photo to the family member -- and prepare for an instant positive response through email that will reinforce the kindness of saying "thanks," demonstrate how good "doing good" feels and encourage the behavior.
• Do a round of thanks. Before Thanksgiving dinner, have each person at the table go around and say what he is thankful for. If you want to turn it into a game for the kids, test everyone's memory by having each person list what preceding people mentioned.
• Practice saying it. Telling your child to say "thank you" is important, but when the time comes for thanks, it's more than just saying two words. It needs to sound meaningful and be specific. Mock situations in which your child should give thanks, and encourage her to say more than just an empty phrase. Help her pick out specific details about the gift to mention, such as, "Thank you. This is my favorite color," or "Thank you. I've wanted this toy for so long."
• Make a collage. Cut out pictures in magazines that represent all that your child has to be thankful for. You also could ask her to draw a few images, too.
Paste all of the pictures onto one sheet and hang the collage by your child's bed so that he can reflect on his gratitude right before falling asleep.
Try these strategies, and your little ones will understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving as they chow down on the pumpkin pie.
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