Thanksgiving rarely gets the attention it deserves. In recent years it seems that Thanksgiving has become little more than opening day for Christmas shopping. What a huge opportunity we are missing to slow down and help children understand WHY we give during the Christmas season.
Generosity should be birthed out of a sense of gratitude. I have been so blessed. Consequently, I want to bless another. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to kick gratitude into high gear in preparation for the season of giving. But, how do you do this for kids who are being fed a constant dose of covetousness thanks to marketing and television commercials?
Thanksgiving Reality Check
To help put need in perspective for your kids, try this easy exercise. Take a globe (affiliate link) and do a little research identifying areas of the world that suffer significant need. Identify as many as you can including US cities. Place a heart shaped sticker near each location. Do several locations so the globe is clearly dotted with many hearts. Gather your kids around the globe and your computer. Ask them to pick a heart and help them identify the nation while you pull up a quick Google Image search of “Poverty” and the name of the nation. You might want to preview and save the images ahead of time so that you can screen them first. Be sure to include images of American cities as well, so the children understand this is not simply a problem far away.
After the exercise, lead your kids in prayer and ask God to help all of you think of ways to ease suffering areas around the world. Brainstorm ideas with your kids on how you, as a class, can give back this holiday season.
A Gratitude Party
Giving back is a lot easier for kids when it is fun. You can help make it fun by organizing a Gratitude Party. A Gratitude Party is simply a fun kickoff to any charitable project you and your class would like to organize. It can be a Toys for Tots collection party, Operation Christmas Child Box Packing Party, or simply a canned food collection party for a local food bank. Kids love any excuse to get together and have fun holiday snacks, so why not use this time to also help them get their minds on others and how they can help relieve a little of the need this holiday. Be sure to invite lots of people from your church and community to your get together to increase the collection power!
A Gratitude Field Trip
Nothing can truly help you understand need like actually visiting individuals in need, and seeing it for yourself. A Gratitude Field trip can consist of volunteering at a shelter or food bank. It can also be something as simple as visiting a nursing home and passing out holiday cards or treats and spending a little time with the residents. A Gratitude Field Trip can be coupled with a collection of items for that specific location as well.
Telling the class what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving is a great start, but putting some hands and feet on that gratitude can help children truly understand why it is more blessed to give than to receive.
You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.