Our family treasures Thanksgiving holiday traditions. Originally from Canada, we celebrate a bit earlier, on the second Monday of October. Having now lived in New Zealand for many years, we’ve adjusted to celebrating this autumn holiday in spring! This flexibility reminds us that gratitude is in season any time of year. Thanksgiving can be an ideal time to help our children cultivate gratitude with fun writing activities that grow their writing skills.
Thanksgiving provides wonderful opportunities for meaningful writing, and meaningful writing motivates children to write. Here are some writing ideas to inspire your children during Thanksgiving.
Fun Writing Activities
1. Create a Thanksgiving tree
You can draw one on a large poster or make a 3D one. Be as creative as you like. We started off with poster paper and now use a metal jewelry tree. My niece’s children simply collect some branches and put them in a jar.
Invite your children to draw and cut out leaves from colored paper or use a large leaf punch to create colorful paper leaves.
Every day for a week or so before Thanksgiving, each person in the family writes on a leaf something he or she is thankful for and sticks the leaf on the tree. By the time Thanksgiving Day comes around, your tree will be aglow with leaves. Take a picture of your Thanksgiving tree to remember the many things your family is thankful for.
This activity has become a tradition in our family, one we still practice today with our adult children, though now we just add our leaves on Thanksgiving Day when we are all together. One of our daughters who is living overseas even gets her friends to join her in this activity. This year she found a wooden one to use.
2. Write an acrostic poem
Take the word THANKSGIVING or THANKS or GRATEFUL and create an acrostic poem. Work together to think of words that start with each of the letters. See how many words you can think of for each letter. Alternatively, you could think of a phrase or sentence starting with each letter of the chosen word. Or have a few sentences that continue through each starting letter. Add some rhymes if you feel inspired. But the main point is to be thankful and have fun. Here are two samples to get your creative juices flowing.
T – trees, teddy bears, telephones, t-shirts
H- hippos, hands, hearts, hugs
A- animals, alphabet, apples, arms
N- noses, nachos, novels, nature
K- keys, kindness, kayaks, kangaroos
S- songs, salads, soup, slippers
In this version, the poem starts with the first letter of the chosen word, flowing on to the next starting letter as the ideas develop:
T -Thank you, God, for
H -hands and hugs
A -and every gift that’s from above.
N -new hearts and
S -sins forgiven—
G -gifts from Your great heart of love.
I – Invitation to tell the
V- vast world.
I – I thank you
N – now and
G -give you praise.
When you are done, your children can copy out the poem or type it up. Or they could make a poster and decorate it. Share the poem with a friend or relative.
3) Make a Place Card for each person who will be at your Thanksgiving Dinner
The children can design or decorate these cards, or you can find a template online. They might have fun with Thanksgiving shapes like leaves, pilgrims, turkeys, or pumpkins. Have the children write each guest or family member’s name on a place card.
If you like, add a Bible verse with a Thanksgiving theme. Short verses work great. “Rejoice always.” “Give thanks in all circumstances.” “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!” As one of our fun writing activities, this provides a great opportunity for meaningful handwriting practice and copywork.
4. Write Thank You Notes for Special People
Invite each child to think of someone who has specially blessed them this year or this season. This might be a Sunday School teacher, coach, youth leader, friend, doctor, or relative. Mail the notes or give them in person. Consider adding a small gift.
Talk about what this person has done for them. Help your child write a note to this person, being specific about what they appreciate. For younger children, have them dictate the note to you. Then, depending on their ability, they could trace over your letters or copy from your model. Assist as needed. Partner with them and write for them if necessary.
5. Write a Creative Thanksgiving Retelling
Read about the historic Thanksgiving feast in 1621 when the Wampanoag tribe celebrated with the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. Then take the perspective of one of the participants and write a journal entry, reflecting on his or her experience. Or perhaps consider what a participant would tell his or her grandchild about their memories of this memorable harvest celebration. You might like to write it as an interview. Work together. Share ideas. Imagine what the participants would have smelled, tasted, seen, and heard. Add some of these sensory details.
With older children, you might like to write accounts from two different perspectives. Partner with your children in this fun writing activity at their level to grow research and writing skills while you learn some history together.
Fun Writing Activities at Thanksgiving
So which idea will you try this year? Whichever you choose, engage with your children and set them up for success. You might find some of the free Thanksgiving templates at Notebooking.com to be an attractive way to showcase your children’s hard work. You never know, working meaningful writing into your Thanksgiving may become a new family tradition.
Val Robb homeschooled for 25 years. She delights in her six adult children, daughter-in-law and adorable grandson. Originally from Canada where she trained as an elementary teacher, Val spent 7 years in Asia and now lives in New Zealand with her Kiwi husband. Val loves helping homeschool parents strengthen relationships with their children while growing their writing skills. She blogs at www.inspiringwriting.co and offers homeschool consultations and workshops to help parents mentor writing in meaningful ways.
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