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Teaching preschoolers about the history of Thanksgiving

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Giving thanks with little ones

Thanksgiving is a great time to teach younger children the history and meaning of the holiday. This year, teach your preschooler about the history of Thanksgiving with the help of books, crafts, charity work and other projects.
Mom and preschooler at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving books

Explaining to preschoolers the history of Thanksgiving doesn't have to be difficult. An assortment of terrific, inexpensive books is available to help teach your little ones about Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern ($6, Amazon) is a fantastic choice for kids ages 4 to 6.

Also check out The Story of the Pilgrims ($4, Amazon) by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll. For the youngest in your house, a good option is The First Thanksgiving: A Lift-the-Flap Book ($6, Amazon) by Kathryn Lynn Davis. Toddlers love to open the flaps, and since there isn't a lot of text, you can insert your own thoughts and stories as you read it aloud.

Thanksgiving crafts

Craft projects can help teach your preschoolers about the history of Thanksgiving too. You can make pilgrim hats, pinecone turkeys, teepee centerpieces and more. Download these Thanksgiving coloring pages and printables. Your children can choose several pictures to color. Cut them out and glue them to construction paper. Then, you can laminate the paper and turn it into a Thanksgiving placemat or table decoration. While you are working on your crafts, continue to remind your child about the significance of the items and the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Find out how to make Styrofoam cup pilgrim hats >>

Thanksgiving charity work

Thanksgiving is a time where we all give thanks for the blessings we have, and reach out to help those who are less fortunate. Get your children involved in charity work at a young age. You'll find plenty of opportunities to volunteer and contribute around Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. Sharing food with people you don't know is part of Thanksgiving history. You can adopt holiday ”orphans” who are in your area and away from their own families by inviting them to join your Thanksgiving dinner. You can also select other volunteer projects for your child or family to do together at Thanksgiving time.

Read more about giving thanks and our families >>

Giving thanks

On Thanksgiving Day, have each person at the table share three things that they are thankful for this year or prayers for the upcoming year. You can write these items down in a blank journal and then save it to read throughout the year. Your family can also create a special Thanksgiving tablecloth. Purchase a plain white tablecloth and provide several fabric markers on the table. Family and friends can write their gratitude notes and blessings on the tablecloth, signing their name and date. Your family can use the tablecloth on Thanksgiving for years to come, adding more to it each year.

Tell us

How does your family give thanks? Share with us in the comments section below!

More about Thanksgiving

Non-traditional Thanksgiving traditions
Capture Thanksgiving memories in a scrapbook
Family activities for Thanksgiving morning

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