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.
Don’t forget our other free Thanksgiving ideas for children’s ministry or free Thanksgiving coloring pages.
Objective: After this lesson, children will demonstrate a thankful attitude by sharing specific reasons they can say thank you to God.
- Four sheets of paper with the following names written large alongside a sad face: Johnny, Sarah, Bob, Chloe. These will be used in the first activity called “Sad Stories” included below.
- Marker board or large 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 blank 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- This is Bob (or use pretend name). 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?
- This is Chloe (or use pretend name). She has a sad story because she is very sick. 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
- “The LORD is good” = He is good.
- “His love endures forever” = His love never runs out.
- “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.
- Parents – Why are you thankful for your parents?
Example: I am thankful that my parents read me bedtime stories.
- School – Why are you thankful for your school?
Example: I am thankful that my school has great food!
- Church – Why are you thankful for your church?
Example: I am thankful that my church teaches me about God.
- Jesus – Why are you thankful for Jesus?
Example: I am thankful that Jesus wants to forgive me.
- Health – Why are you thankful for your health?
Example: I am thankful that I can run fast and play tag.
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.