It’s turkey season! But there is obviously way more than turkey to talk about during the Thanksgiving holiday. Find time to bring attention to the real reason for the season with the idea of gratitude.
Here are a few games and ideas to do as a family to jump-start your thankfulness and appreciation as Thanksgiving approaches.
This is literally an adorable stuffed turkey that you place on your table. Available at local toy stores or Amazon, Turkey on the Table is a book and activity that encourages families to express and display their gratitude. The stuffed turkey starts featherless and then each day in November family members write down what they are thankful for on a feather and add it to the turkey.
Another idea is to use the feathers as place cards on your Thanksgiving table and have guests fill out and dress the turkey centerpiece.
It’s a great way to get conversations started about thankfulness and life’s blessings. The best part is 10 meals will be provided to someone in need with each Turkey on the Table sold through their partnership with Feeding America.
This is an easy game that you can create at home with colored Popsicle sticks or straws. With the Gratitude Sticks game, create a colored code map and each color represents a category, such as places, food, things or whatever you want. Each time you pick up a stick or straw, you reference the color code to say what you are thankful for.
It’s a fun way to get kids thinking about all the different things in their lives they can be grateful for. It would also be a good ice-breaker game for Thanksgiving during cocktails and appetizers.
Break out the books
It’s never too early to expose your babies, toddlers and preschoolers to the idea of gratitude, and the absolute best way to do that is with some picture and story books.
“Where is Baby’s Turkey” by Karen Katz is a sweet lift-the-flap board book where little ones can interactively look on each page for baby’s stuffed turkey animal. Another great board book option is “Llama Llama Gives Thanks” by beloved author Anna Dewdney. The short and simple rhyming text tells the story of Thanksgiving time for Llama Llama and his family and how giving thanks is always here, despite the holiday coming only once a year. Another fun read for all ages is “Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving” by Dav Pilkey. It’s a playful adaptation of Clement Moore’s classic Christmas poem that tells a wacky tale of school children rescuing turkeys on Thanksgiving eve.
Photo scavenger hunt
This entertaining gratitude photo scavenger hunt is a fun way to take time to notice the small stuff. Plus it’s an incredible activity to do after everyone is stuffed with turkey to get people off the couch and moving!
Divide into small groups and each group needs a camera phone, then set time limits and boundaries for the scavenger hunt. Give out a list of items to hunt for and take photos. The list can say “Something I’m grateful for” and then create up to 10 items. To get started try: nature, that tastes good, that smells amazing, that is older than me, something I recently learned, that makes me laugh, that makes me cry, that represents my culture, that inspired me, etc. When the time is up, have each team share their photos for each category.
We always count down to Christmas or the end of school, so start a new tradition to countdown to Thanksgiving by creating a Thankfulness Chain. All you need is markers, a stapler and colored construction paper cut into two-inch-wide strips.
Each day of November, list one thing on a strip of paper that as a family you are thankful for. Then make a chain by linking the papers through each other, creating a loop and stapling them. Keep adding each day and continue the month-long conversation as a family about your blessings.
Express gratitude for all that your body and mind give you by doing yoga as a family. Kids Yoga Stories suggests trying a Thanksgiving Yoga sequence inspired by the book, Thank You, World, where you give thanks to nature with poses. Start by saying, “I am grateful for the…”
Sun and sky: Stand tall and reach your arms up to the sky.
Trees: Stand on one leg, place the sole of your foot on your inner thigh and balance and sway like a tree.
Rain: Bend your upper body, reach for your toes and pretend to be falling rain.
Flowers: Sitting on your butt, lift your legs to balance on your sit bones. Touch the soles of your feet together and weave your arms under your legs to blossom like a flower.
Stars in the sky: Lay on your back with your arms and legs stretched out like a star. Breathe and rest.
Or create your own yoga sequences based on what you are thankful for in nature!
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This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.