If you’re planning a Thanksgiving party in the classroom, there are a myriad of games you can have the children play that will be fun but also educational and useful in teaching the concept of being thankful.
Be careful not to overdo the turkey aspect of Thanksgiving. Some children forget that it’s about more than the turkey. Playing some fun games can help them remember the purpose of Thanksgiving.
Try a gratitude bag. Fill the bag with several cards, each with something on it. Some will say “Thanksgiving” while others will have a word or picture of other things. Some of those other things might be cars, food, clothes, etc. Have the children sit in a circle and draw a card out of the bag. If they get a card that has a picture or word on it other than “Thanksgiving” they should talk about why they are thankful for that item and why others should be as well.
For example, if the child choose “shoes”, they might express how thankful they are that they have shoes so their feet stay clean and they don’t get cold in the winter and they stay unharmed when they are walking. Depending on the ages of the children, this might be a simple response or something a little more involved once they understand the concept better. If they draw the “car” card, they might comment on how nice it is to have a car and not have to take the bus, or how nice it is that their mom can pick them up from school so they don’t have to walk home everyday. With help from the teacher or a parent, they might even note that in many parts of the world, people don’t have cars (or shoes) and that they are lucky to have all these things.
If the child chooses a card that says “Thanksgiving” they should come up with an original idea about something they are thankful for. Try to steer them away from things like “Playstation” but instead steer them toward things like “my parents” and “my house and my room”.
For some thinking fun, have kids do a word find with Thanksgiving words. Provide them with a list of words related to Thanksgiving. They might be “Thanksgiving”, “Cornucopia”, “Mayflower”, “Turkey”, etc. Then they must find words contained in those words. So, if the word is “Mayflower”, they might find words like “lay”, “flower”, “flow” and the like. “Thanksgiving” might turn into “thank”, “sing”, and “an”.See which child can find the most words in the list of words you provide them. Try to challenge the kids to find words within the words that relate back to Thanksgiving.
The old memory game is always fun and can be used for Thanksgiving too. Have the children sit in a circle and have someone start the game by saying, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat” and then finish it with one food item. So that child might say, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey”, and the next child will say, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey and cranberry sauce.” The next child would continue with, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey and cranberry sauce and green beans.” Each child will carry on until the list becomes so long, someone is sure to forget an item. You can either star the game over or keep going until everyone is out but one child.