Use this free study in your Sunday School or Kids Church for 3 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect way to make November all about showing gratitude to God. The download below includes all three lessons, but don’t forget browse our free Thanksgiving crafts to supplement this material.
Where does true thankfulness come from? Can we be thankful even when we face trials? “Thankful to God (Biblical Thankfulness – Lesson 1)” is the first of three lessons helping children understand the ultimate reason we should be thankful. Also, children will learn that we can be thankful even when we face hard times.
COLORING SHEETS: We have several thanksgiving coloring pages (included in the file above)
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: To understand that true thankfulness comes from knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior.
MAIN IDEA: Thankfulness comes from having a relationship with Jesus and understanding God’s love for us. We should choose thankfulness even in difficult situations because we already have victory through Jesus Christ.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Colossians 2:6-7, Psalm 136:1, and 1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
MATERIAL(S): white board or poster board, paper, writing utensils, markers, stickers
MORE IDEAS: Don’t miss our large collection of Thanksgiving lessons for children’s church.
Lesson 1: Thankful to Christ
Introduction (10 minutes)
Say, “When you think about the holiday we call Thanksgiving what comes to mind? Today we are going to talk about true thanksgiving. First, let’s start by listing things we are thankful for on the board.” Allow a few minutes for the students to comment. Afterward, emphasize that today’s lesson will teach us what the bible says about thankfulness.
OPENING PRAYER: “God, thank you for your son, Jesus, who died for our sins. And thank you for the many blessings you give us. Give us understanding today as we learn what your word says about thankfulness. Amen.”
Bible Lesson (20 minutes)
- Comment, “The bible tells us what we should be most thankful for.” Read Colossians 2:6-7. Explain that true thankfulness comes from knowing Jesus Christ! Say, “When we are faithful to God and choose to obey his commands then we will experience true thankfulness.” Share about a time when you were overwhelmed with thankfulness for your relationship to Jesus Christ. Then briefly outline the gospel message and invite students to come into a relationship with Christ if they do not already know him. Lastly, write “knowing Jesus” on the board.
- Next read Psalm 136:1. Ask, “According to this verse, why should we be thankful to God (because his love endures forever)? How do we know this promise is true (because he sent us Jesus and shows his love by taking care of us)?” Ask a volunteer to share about a time in their life when God took care of them. Then add “God’s love endures forever” on the board.
- Say, “We should also be thankful because God gives us victory through Jesus!” Read 1 Corinthians 15:57. Explain that God does more than provide salvation and take care of us – he gives us daily victory over life’s trials. Comment, “Because we are victors, we never have to wonder if God will help us through our troubles. We have confidence that he will always be with us, and that should make us extremely thankful.” Write, “We have victory through Jesus” on the board.
- Lastly, admit that it can be hard to be thankful in the midst of difficulties. Say, “Paul faced many trials, so we’re going to discover how he remained thankful even when life was hard.” Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Emphasize that Paul remained thankful because he chose obedience and faithfulness no matter what happened. Ask the students to come up with their own examples of when it could be hard to be thankful. Comment, “No matter what we go through, prayer and rejoicing in God will help us be thankful. Paul faced incredible struggles, so we should strive to follow his example of faithful perseverance when we find ourselves in difficult situations.”
Letters of Thankfulness (10 minutes)
Pass out the paper and craft supplies. Say, “We are going to spend the rest of our time today writing letters of thankfulness to God. This is not something we are going to share with one another, but it is a serious time of reflection. Please remain quiet as you work.” Allow the students to decorate their letters when they finish writing. Encourage them to keep the letters in a place where they can read it often as reminders to be thankful to God.
Lesson Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: True thankfulness comes from knowing Jesus as our Savior and experiencing God’s eternal love. No matter what we face, we can choose thankfulness because we have victory in Jesus Christ.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, thank you for our salvation and your love. Remind us to be thankful this week no matter what we face. Amen.”