This cute friend—like an Advent calendar in reverse—will help you remember to thank God during this busy season. Download Instructions here.
Giving thanks should be one of the easiest actions for us—especially as believers. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sadly, we often pass this cavalier attitude on to our kids, and that can lead to a sense of entitlement. Beyond reminding kids throughout the day to say thank you, here are 5 ways you can help them develop a sense of gratitude.
- Gratitude Pumpkin. Hopefully you didn’t carve all your pumpkins at Halloween! If you have one left, start a “gratitude pumpkin” by encouraging everyone in your family to write something on it that they’re thankful for each day. When Thanksgiving rolls around, you’ll have a beautiful decoration and a great reminder of what you’ve got to be thankful for!
- Thank You Notes. It seems as though thank you notes are a thing of the past. As a matter of confession, I too have been guilty of sending a text or an e-mail instead of a hand-written note. Teach your kids to express gratitude by sitting down with them and helping them craft a brief note for a gift or act of service they received. If the child is too young to write a note, suggest that he draw a picture and tell you the words he’d like you to write for him.
- Gratitude Jar. Decorate a container that will serve as your family’s “Gratitude Jar.” Place notepaper and a pen, markers, or crayons next to the jar for easy access. Invite kids (and adults!) to write a note or draw a picture of something they’re grateful for when they pass by and put the note in the jar. Remind kids that they can write about things that happened as well as material items. On Thanksgiving Day, pull the notes out and take turns reading them. Your family will be reminded of just how much they have to be grateful for! This is a great project to start on January 1 for the following Thanksgiving but, don’t let that stop you from making one now for this year! You’ll be surprised by what can happen in just a few weeks!
- Gratitude Journal. Inspire kids to take time to reflect on the good things around them. Provide a journal so they can record their thoughts and give thanks to God and to others. Journaling can serve two purposes: 1.) Kids will learn to focus on the good things they’re experiencing in the present and, 2.) Kids will have their writings to refer back to when things might not be going so great.
- Nightly Gratitude Check. Before your children go to bed each night, spend a few minutes with them looking back over the day. Challenge your kids to recall at least one good thing that happened during the day. You may need to suggest ordinary happenings that are sometimes overlooked. Pray with your kids and lead them to give thanks to God for the many ways He blessed them that day and every day.
Don’t be surprised if, as you try some of these with your kids, you find yourself realizing how much you’ve got to be thankful for!
Happy thanksgiving from everyone at the CentriKid office!
I don’t know about you, but for me it can be pretty easy to get caught up in all the family gatherings, home cooked foods, and cute fall scented candles that make you think I’ve been baking cinnamon rolls all morning. All of those are so fun and seasonal, and things that I am so grateful for, but this year we want to focus on being more intentional with our thanksgiving and I hope you will all join us!
Every year the CentriKid office team makes Thankful Turkeys where we list all of the people and places that we are thankful for on the tail of a turkey! We are so thankful for things like camp ministry, a job that allows us to serve the Church, ministry leaders who take the time to serve the Lord every day, and overall we are thankful for the Gospel!
Here are some ways to step up our Thankful Turkey game:
-Make Thankful Turkeys together with friends or family. Use this time to talk about the things you are grateful for and share ideas of how you can continue to remain grateful for the things the Lord has given you.
-If you wrote down a person or people that you are thankful for, take a few minutes to write them as small note and let them know that you are thankful for them!
-Make this a habit! Every month, write down all of the people/places/things you are thankful for. Maybe for christmas, you can make a thankful Christmas Tree … who knows?!
-Pray. Take time to thank the Lord for giving you all of these things. 1 Timothy 4:4 says that everything created by God is good … so let’s bring it all back to Him and give Him thanks!
Make sure to post a picture of your Thankful Turkeys on social media and tag us @Centrikid and use the tag #CKThanks. We can’t wait to see all of the things that you are thankful for … and we might even repost some turkeys! As always, thank you for taking the time with us to reflect on what we are Grateful for this holiday season!
The family feast is coming, and I’m looking forward to it as much as anyone. My normal contribution to the spread each year includes a few pies and a side dish or two. These goodies are a fun part of the annual Thanksgiving festivities, and items that we’re all grateful to have. But, other than wolfing down another slice of pumpkin pie, do you ever stop to count your other blessings, “naming them one-by-one” as the old hymn suggests?
When we think of our blessings broken down in this way, we have so much to be thankful for! But before we become proud in thinking this has anything to do with our own goodness, we need to keep some things in mind: God is the provider of all good things in our lives. In Psalm 121:1-2 we read: “Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
As a reminder, things in life as we know them can disappear so quickly! We must change our mindset to one of thankfulness each day — not just in November. So, after we get this “attitude of gratitude” drilled down into our thinking, how can we enhance and pass on this philosophy to our kids early in their lives?
Through the Senses
Help your child with hands-on projects to show thankfulness for what she has by sharing with others. Use sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell to get a start with these outreach projects.
- Preschoolers can create a watercolor picture as a Thanksgiving “card” for an elderly neighbor.
- A simple fall-scented candle would make a great gift for a friend of any age.
- Record a cheerful message from your child(ren) on your phone and then text it to relatives and friends who live too far away to visit in person.
- Share your homemade goodies with some international students who are “stuck alone” on campus over the holiday.
When you hear of a friend or family member experiencing a challenging situation, take note of it. Find ways to include your kids in reaching out as a way of showing gratitude for the ability to help during this difficult time.
- Take some food to a friend or family member who recently lost a job.
- Buy additional baby items (diapers, bottles, formula, pacifiers) for a young family you know who may be a little tight over the holidays.
- Provide a “free” night of childcare for someone with young kids, knowing they are typically stretched financially.
- Invite a single adult from church or work to your home for the holiday mealtime fun if they don’t have a place to go to for the day.
Through the Community & World
Keep yourself updated on needs in your community and (for older kids) the world. When you see a way your family might help, discuss a plan for meeting some of those needs.
- A project such as Operation Christmas Child® is a great way to enlarge your child’s focus toward people outside his immediate circle of family and friends.
- Check community boards at local gyms and churches for tangible ways to help in surrounding neighborhoods with service projects, or provision of clothing or food items.
Always remember to verbally express your own thankfulness for God’s goodness when interacting with your family members. Your children especially will enjoy hearing your excitement as you recount God’s blessings in your life.
Dixie Walker has been in childhood ministry with families and teachers for the past 20 years. She and her family reside in the metro Atlanta area.
This article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of ParentLife.
Here in the CentriKid office, we have so much to be thankful for!
- We are thankful to serve in camp ministry.
- We are thankful for ministry leaders who dedicate so much time, energy, and heart into the lives of kids.
- Above all else, we are thankful for Christ!
Check out some of our Thankful Turkeys from CentriKid and Student Life for Kids:
This week we are celebrating #CKThanks with our annual Hand Turkeys. All you have to do is post your Hand Turkey on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and include the #CKThanks. We may even repost some of our favorites!
Thank you for taking the time to celebrate Thanksgiving with us as we take time out to be grateful this holiday season. Want to know more about the camps provided by Lifeway Kids? Check out Student Life for Kids and CentriKid today!
Lydia McMillan works on the CentriKid Camps team. She manages social media, produces videos, works with actors, and leads production elements. She is married to Joshua and they have two kiddos who keep them very busy.
Thanksgiving is one of the favorite family holidays. This blog features great ideas to get kids involved for the big Thanksgiving meal. Pass this along to families in your ministry!
Many of us mamas feel pressure to lay out a perfect Thanksgiving feast. Let your children deliver both good food and memorable camaraderie. It truly will take the focus off you.
First, think outside the box for ways kids can help.
- Create place cards — Children who can’t yet write can draw portraits.
- Squeeze oranges — Electric juicers seem custom-designed for children to press orange halves onto the rotating reamer and watch the liquid drip through.
- Make a dish — Worry less about an even menu and more about praising the cook. Even preschoolers can become known for their green bean casserole.
- Manage the list — Let a child take your list around for volunteers of all ages to pick their tasks and checkmark when completed.
- Work the can-opener — Let Uncle Jorge set the cans for young Evan to spin.
- Beautify the table — placing at least the non-breakable silverware.
- Fold napkins — in shapes of the child’s choosing.
To keep your head while six hands clamor to help, do private prep. If your kitchen allows it, give each his own station.
- Use the French cooking process, mise en place, to equip children to make a myriad of recipes. Substitute, for prep bowls, zipper bags filled with the right amount of flour, sugar, even that one teaspoon of baking soda. Then kids open, pour, and stir. Preschoolers will identify the starting letter in flour or sugar and can choose the right bag and the right time. So label each bag with what’s inside.
- Place a towel or rug under each chair to catch spills.
- Extra grownups who treasure children are often circulating in your home during Thanksgiving prep. Partner them with your children to feed the conversation and connections lauded by Proverbs 17:1.
If only one adult is available, have the children rotate helping. Even if everyone pushes up a chair, let one be the primary cook while the others watch and tell what the cook is doing well: “Wow! You didn’t spill at all!” or “I can’t wait to eat that!”
INVITE KIDS TO THE BIG TABLE
Children find it amazing that they can create food people enjoy. They enjoy interacting with adult guests.
Conspiratorially give a question to each child to ask during the meal:
- What’s your specialty — that food you like to make on holidays?
- What do you think is cool about being my age? What do you think is cool about being your age?
- What food did you have to learn to like when younger?
- What did my mom/grandma do when she was a little girl?
- Who is a hero to you? Why?
This article appears courtesy of ParentLife magazine. Karen Dockrey wrote this article. She is a curriculum specialist and author or co-author of over 30 books.
Family Traditions are special. One of my family’s traditions has been making “Turkey Cookies” each Thanksgiving season. Just for clarification, these cookies don’t contain actual turkey, but are decorated to look like turkeys.
Even as a young child, I remember sharing these cookies with classmates, teachers, and friends each year. When I started serving in ministry, I wanted to do something special for the church staff and ministry volunteers during the Thanksgiving season.
Many times we overlook this special season to show thankfulness to the Lord and to our teachers who serve the Lord faithfully through our ministries. It only felt logical to begin sharing the “Turkey Cookies” with the staff and teachers at my church. After the first couple of years, “Turkey Cookies” became a tradition for our ministry. It was a simple way to communicate thankfulness for them. Everyone needs encouragement and affirmation.
This Thanksgiving season, consider making these cookies for your staff and teachers. When you share them, communicate specific reasons why you are thankful for them and their ministry. Reaffirm a teacher who contacts his class each week. Recognize a teacher who arrives early and is prepared when the first child arrives. Share with another ministry leader why you enjoy serving on staff with her.
Make a commitment this Thanksgiving to share genuine words of affirmation to your church staff and ministry leaders echoing Paul’s words in Philippians 1:3-5, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
- Oatmeal or Sugar cookies (can be store bought or homemade)
- Vanilla or white Icing (I have found store bought works easiest)
- Hershey kiss
- Candy Corn
- Red Miniature M&Ms (small pieces of twizzler candies or red hot candies can be substituted for M&Ms)
- Place icing on one end of the cookie to anchor a Hershey kiss as the head.
- On the other end of the cookie, use icing to attach 5 candy corn as feathers.
- Put a small amount of icing on top of the Hershey kiss to attach the red miniature M&M for the beak.
*Remember to be mindful of allergies and food sensitivities. Some ingredients may need to be substituted.
Delanee Williams serves as a Ministry Specialist with Lifeway Kids. She is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Delanee has served in kids ministry for over twenty years and is passionate about developing, equipping and encouraging leaders.
There are no words more appropriate than these:
“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6
Thank you for partnering with us to serve kids. It’s a privilege and joy to help equip you for God’s work. Enjoy your time with family and friends in celebration of Thanksgiving, and we’ll be praying for you as you go back to work on Sunday.
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I love it when I find great examples of teaching appreciation ideas from other Kids Ministry leaders. I was perusing my facebook feed the other day when I saw this great example from my friends at Long Hollow Baptist Church. Children’s Ministry Director, Rebekah Bullard, and Children’s Minister, Robyn Collins, came up with this great idea for encouraging their leaders.
Yankee Candle Votives
Clear Glass Votive Holders
Printable Tags (Download Here)
Place votive candle in votive holder.
Place candle and holder in cellophane packaging.
Tie package with jute twine and attach a printable tag.
Distribute to your volunteers.
Rebekah and Robyn have over a thousand kids in their ministry on Sunday mornings, so you can imagine that they have quite a few volunteers! I appreciate them taking the time to appreciate their volunteers!
Jeff Land loves Life! That’s pretty great, because his job here at Lifeway is the Team Leader for Bible Studies for Life: Kids. Jeff loves his life which is so blessed by his amazing wife, Abbey, and their four sons, Reed, Nash, Will, and Tuck. A natural encourager and fun-lover, look for Jeff’s posts about teacher appreciation and game ideas. When not serving at work, Jeff serves 2nd graders at his church, First Baptist Church, Joelton, TN.