Here’s some ideas you can use for a lesson on Thanksgiving.
Verse: Psalms 136:1(NLT) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
This verse not only tells us to give thanks to God, it tells us why. He is good and His love endures forever. Talk to the children about reasons we should thank God. There are other reasons listed in Psalm 136.
Beanbag of Thanksgiving:
One way to have the children thank God is to have a beanbag of thanksgiving. Throw the beanbag to different children. Any child who catches it must tell something he thanks God for. Remind children that this is a time for thanksgiving not prayer requests. If a child has a hard time thinking of something, remind him or her of the reasons listed in the memory verse.
Thank God For Children: At the end of the Beanbag of Thanksgiving, thank God out loud for the children under your care. You can say something like this. “Scripture says children are a reward from the Lord, and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. So I thank God for all of you. You are my reward from God.” This not only shows the children you’re thankfulness, but it gives them the assurance that God considers them a blessing when the world sometimes considers children a curse.
Lesson from History
You might want to tell your students the real history of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, the one not taught in schools. Here it is.
Most children are taught that pilgrims came to America to flee religious persecution. That’s not exactly true. Pilgrims and Puritans were persecuted for believing that Christians could have a personal relationship with Jesus separate from the Church of England. But they traveled to Holland to flee the persecution, not America.
So why did they travel to America? There were many reasons, but the main reason is they felt compelled by God to come to America and establish a colony of people that honored God. Many called this colony, New Jerusalem, believing that God had established this new land to spread the gospel to the world. William Bradford wrote in his journal that the motivation came from “a great hope for advancing the kingdom of Christ.”
Pilgrims and Puritans were not the same. Pilgrims were separatists who believed they should separate themselves for the Church of England and the world systems. Puritans believed in working within the system. When they came to America, Puritans wished to set up the government so that religious freedom of expression would be established. Pilgrims wanted freedom of religion so they were free to worship without fear of persecution. Both Pilgrims and Puritans wanted freedom of religion to protect the church from the government, not to protect the government from the church.
Many schools teach that Thanksgiving was a secular celebration. But letters written by the Pilgrims tell a different story. God was such a part of their everyday life that they included God in everything. One such letter states that Thanksgiving was a celebration called so that “God be praised” for what He had brought them through.
John Winthrop called New England a City on a Hill in one of his sermon. He, as well as many other Puritans and Pilgrims, believed they had made a covenant with God to be a new nation that was a model of Christianity to the world. William Bradford believed that America was called to spread the gospel to the world. Since the Pilgrims and Puritans came to America, the United States of America has sent missionaries to more nations and more remote places in the world than any other nation on Earth. Could it be they were right?
Ten lepers came to Jesus to be healed. Jesus healed them all. But only one leper came back to thank him. Jesus told that leper his faith has made him whole. God blesses those who have a thankful heart.