Fun Facts to Teach Your Kids about Thanksgiving

Gratitude is implied in the word “Thanksgiving” though children learn best when they can connect a concept to a story. One historical narrative that underscores the importance of gratitude has to do the Wampanoag, the native people who originally inhabited the land around Plymouth Rock. When the pilgrims came from England, they knew very little of the land they were going. In fact, they didn’t even know where their next meal would come from! The Wampanoag, understanding the pilgrim’s great need for support, helped introduce the settlers to the area. They taught the pilgrims to farm and grow their own food, without which, no Thanksgiving dinner could have been made. As such, the feast in 1621 was a symbol of the pilgrim’s gratitude for the Wampanoag. Have your kids brainstorm all of the teachers in their lives who have helped them learn new things. The generosity of influential people in our lives, like the Wampanoag to the pilgrims, can help remind kids where to direct their gratitude when breaking bread and giving thanks.

One thing that a lot of kids (and adults, too!) don’t know is that Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated on a national level until the Civil War. During this time, the country was so divided that a female writer by the name of Sarah Hale advocated for the country-wide observance of the holiday as a way to transcend divisions and come together as a nation. The mass recognition of Thanksgiving reminds us that even in times of conflict and pain, there is still importance in finding common ground from which to connect to one another. To help highlight the importance of unity, ask the children in your life to reflect on times when they’ve set aside challenges with other individuals or groups in order to join together for a shared cause. Every year, kids join their families across the nation to share in Thanksgiving’s tradition of unity.

Thanksgiving tends to be a time of more and not less. More time off. More yummy food. More friends and family. It’s also an opportunity to teach the kids in your life more about our tradition of celebrating this special holiday. In addition to these fun facts about Thanksgiving, here are some Turkey Day activities to do with your kiddos:

  1. Make pinecone turkeys for a fun arts and crafts project to decorate your home with festive cheer!
  2. Give thanks to the special people in your life by handing out “thankful hearts” when you notice that a person, unprompted, does something to show your family they care.
  3. Did you know that gratitude is a learned behavior? Check out Turkey on the Table®- a special activity that encourages the whole family to express and display their gratitude.