Thanksgiving Lesson for Children’s Church

This Bible lesson about Thanksgiving was first used in our Sunday morning children’s church with Kindergarten – 6th grade students. It could also work as a Thanksgiving Sunday School lesson or any other children’s ministry teaching time. Be sure to modify it for your ministry context. Leave any suggestions or fresh ideas in the comment box at the bottom of this post.

Objective: After this lesson, children will demonstrate a thankful attitude by sharing specific reasons they can say thank you to God.


  • Print Print this lesson plan
  • Four sheets of paper with the following names written large alongside a sad face: Johhny, Sarah, Bob, Chloe. These will be used in the first activity called “Sad Stories.”
  • Marker board or piece of paper to display the word “Thanksgiving.”
  • Bible turned to Psalm 100:4-5
  • Photocopied tracing of a hand, or have the children trace their own hands as a craft, with the words “I am thankful for . . .” written in the middle and each finger has one of the following words: Parents, School, Church, Jesus, Health. Crayons or colored pencils if you use the optional craft
  • Maker board or poster to write responses from the final activity “responding.”

Thanksgiving Lesson Teaching Plan

Activity “Sad Stories”
Use this activity to get the children’s attention and begin to focus them on the concept of thankfulness. Line up four volunteers in the front of the group, assign them the name papers, and ask them to act out the following situations. Change the stories if they seem too personal for the children in your ministry.

Say the following, one situation for each child to act out. Allow a few moments after each story for the children to respond to the “who could help” question.

  1. This is Johnny (use pretend name). He has a sad story because he does not have a anyone to teach him how to read. In his country, there are no schools. Who can help Johnny’s sad story?
  2. This is Susan (use pretend name). She has a sad story because there are no people in her life to teach her about Jesus. In her country, churches are against the law. Who can help Susan’s sad story?
  3. This is Bob. He has a sad story because his parents cannot take care of him. They use drugs and he has to go to foster care. He wants them to get better, but he is afraid they can’t. Who can help Bob’s sad story?
  4. This is Chloe. She has a sad story because she is sick with cancer. She has gone to see many doctors, but she can not do all the things her friends do. She is just too tired from her treatments. Who can help Chole’s sad story?

Say: Each of these stories should remind us to have thankful hearts for all the good things God has given us. We can also use our good things to help make other people’s stories better. Today we are going to learn about being thankful and how God wants us to have attitudes that appreciate the good things he has given us.

Note: This lesson brings up the problem of evil in our world. This is a great bridge to teach the children that every good thing is a gift from God purchased by Jesus on the cross.  God’s love is determined to overcome all the bad in this world and one day make all things right again. When Jesus came alive again it was an exclamation point on that promise.

Activity “Word Clue”
In this activity, children will discover the meaning of the word “Thanksgiving.” Display the word “thanksgiving” on the marker board or piece of paper. Ask volunteers to answer the following questions as you lead the discussion. Say the following:

  • This word is actually a compound of two words. Can anyone see the two words? (Underline the two words as they answer “Thanks” and “Giving”)
  • Whom would we be saying “Thank you” to on Thanksgiving? (Affirm all reasonable answers like parents, but keep asking until they say God.)
  • What should we say “thank you” to God about?
  • How would we show God that we have feel thankful in our hearts? (Examples: Prayer, serving others, not always wanting more, taking good care of what we already have)

Activity: Bible Reading + Active Listening
You could have an older student read, but it may be simpler to read yourself so you can emphasize the following key points.

Say: Listen carefully while I read a Bible verse about giving thanks to God. See if you can hear the three reasons why we should say “Thank you” to God. Read it two times, emphasizing the second verse.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:4-5 NIV


  1. “The LORD is good” = He is good.
  2. “His love endures forever” = His love never runs out.
  3. “His faithfulness continues through all generations” = He keeps his promises, even to children.

Craft: Thankful Hand
In this learning activity, children will share specific reasons they can say thank you to God. You can use the hand as an object lesson or a craft or simply show the children a completed version to make the point.

Show the children a hand tracing on a piece of paper (or marker board) with the words “I am thankful for . . .” written in the middle. Add the following words to one finger at a time and pause for specific discussion. Lead the children to give specific reasons they are thankful for each of the following.

  1. Parents – Why are you thankful for your parents?
    Example: I am thankful that my parents read me bedtime stories.
  2. School – Why are you thankful for your school?
    Example: I am thankful that my school has great food!
  3. Church – Why are you thankful for your church?
    Example: I am thankful that my church teaches me about God.
  4. Jesus – Why are you thankful for Jesus?
    Example: I am thankful that Jesus wants to forgive me.
  5. Health – Why are you thankful for your health?
    Example: I am thankful that I can run fast and play tag.

Activity: Responding
Tell the children that thankful hands always respond. When our hearts appreciate what God has done, we should do something to show that attitude. Lead the children to brainstorm some ways to show they have thankful hearts. You can write the answers on a marker board or poster board during the discussion.

Some possible answers: prayer, serving others, writing thank you cards to parents, sharing what God has given, taking good care of your health, etc.

Closing Prayer: Lead the children in a prayer of thanksgiving.

Need More Help? Browse of list of Thanksgiving Crafts or try another Thanksgiving Lesson for Kids.


  1. Ruth says

    I love this programme. I have just been asked to do something for our children’s work tomorrow. This is simple and ideally suited to the age group we have. I will be coming back for more.

  2. Debbie Allen says

    These are great ideas and I have used the thankful hand idea in our childrens church ministry Thank you for sharing

  3. Esley says

    Brilliant Idea’s, will definitely try them out with our Children Ministry, thank you for such great support. God bless you all.

  4. says

    Great opportunity to share our praise! Possible side game Tag your it. Its your turn to praise the Lord so everyone can hear! Shout out your praise so all can hear to get out of jail! All the children that get tagged have to go to jail. Each praise can only be used once, by all children. This will help inspire new ideas on what they are thankful for.
    In a smaller indoor class, possibly a play on Marco Polo with the person out having a blind fold on.

  5. Arati says

    Thank you for your free material really it help me to take children church children are blessed by these teaching and they really enjoy coloring pages and games. This Website such a blessing to me

  6. Princess says

    Thank you so much..My kids will really enjoy this lesson

    Stay blessed

  7. Ieshia says

    I thank you all so much for the lesson plans, they are very helpful and exciting. My children ministry loves them. At the end of this lesson i going to have the children to write thank you card to the people they are most thankful for (e.g. parents, pastors, first ladies, teachers, etc.). I thought that would be a good addition.

  8. Nancy says

    I thought I was “retired” from children’s ministries, but lately I have been
    asked to substitute teach all ages. So, this will be helpful to try and lead
    the children into appreciation and getting out of self-serving attitudes that
    kids today seem to have. I will be using this in our Children’s Church
    for children aged 4 to 10. Thank you for having lessons like this
    available. (And apparently God wasn’t ready for me to retire just yet.)
    Miss Nancy

  9. obehi says

    Thank you so much. This website is such a blessing. i use it almost every Sunday and the kids are blessed. God bless you.

  10. Kids for Utica says

    Dear Ministry to Children;

    Thank you so very much for the “free” material you offer. Kids for Utica is an Inner City Ministry to children and youth. Being able to receive material without cost is a tremendous blessing to us. May God richly bless you and all who work with you for all that is given.

    With much appreciation,

    Pastor Karen
    Kids for Utica/City Youth

  11. Leanne says

    I am fairly new to the position of Director of Children’s Ministries at my church. I love this website! I have used several of the lessons and get such positive feedback every time. May God continue to bless you as you share your gifts with those of us who also minister to children.

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