Make Thanksgiving a Teachable Moment


Who says Thanksgiving is just a day set aside to expand your waistline?

If you are a parent, consider using the holiday to broaden your kids’ minds. In many cases children are taught the history of Thanksgiving in class. They get generic lessons about the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, Pilgrims and Indians, but far less time is spent schooling youngsters about the true meaning of the day—-gratitude.

Whereas the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621, when Governor Bradford of the Plymouth colony appointed a day for public praise and prayer after the first harvest, the first national observance didn’t come until more than a century later. At the request of Congress in 1789, a proclamation was made by George Washington stating that the fourth Thursday of November was to be set aside “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” Today, Americans enjoy a day of feasting, spending time with family and giving thanks for all their blessings.

Some families have a tradition of encouraging each member of the clan to state what he or she is most thankful for prior to digging into the holiday spread. This simple practice allows both young and old to share moments of gratitude. Moreover, it serves as an important lesson to kids that all too often we take things for granted and fail to see the good in others.

Once your children comprehend the concept behind the holiday, you can continue the learning on the computer. The Internet is packed with fun and festive Thanksgiving lessons. For example, the website A to Z Teacher Stuff features a kid-centric tale describing why the Pilgrims had so much to be thankful for during their first year in their new home. Then, directives on the site instruct parents on ways they can help kids apply those same lessons in our modern-day lives. The site also has intriguing information on the Wampanoag Indians, the settlers of Jamestown, and a ton of catchy Thanksgiving songs and poems that reflect on the holiday’s significance.

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Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Art Projects

Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Entertained on Thanksgiving

Keeping Kids Busy on Thanksgiving

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.