As we talked, I came to see it from his point of view.
Weird, unfamiliar food.
Lots of boring adult talk.
Mommy too busy in the kitchen to play with him.
He wasn’t really getting much about the meaning of the day, either.
Kids & Gratitude
I knew we needed to keep it concrete. Being thankful doesn’t come naturally. We work so hard giving kids a routine, and being consistent and dependable, that it’s hard for them to imagine anything different.
Bear Says Thanks
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Stories have so much power to teach, if they’re done well.
Bear Says Thanks (affiliate link), by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman is done exceptionally well. Perfect for Thanksgiving, this simple, beautifully illustrated picture book is about a bear who wants to host a feast. Except his cupboard is bare.
One by one, his friends show up with various dishes to share. To each of them, Bear says “thanks.” In the end, they spread out a quilt on the floor of bear’s den, and sit down to eat together.
The story is simple enough for preschoolers, yet my 6-year-old kindergartners enjoyed it too. It would pair well with a story about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.Most importantly, it shows a character being grateful in a way that young children can understand. There’s more to learn, but it’s a comfortable place to begin.
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A Craft to Extend the Story
The craft I’ve created doesn’t have anything to do with gratitude. Rather, it’s an extension of the story as a way to remind kids about it.
The quilt that the bear and his friends eat on inspired me. I like to have each child make a homemade Thanksgiving place mat every year. A paper “quilt” place mat would be perfect.
At ages 6 and 9, they’re getting too big for turkey hand prints (although I’m sure we’ll do some anyway). And I wanted something prettier for the kids’ table this year.
Thanksgiving Place Mat Instructions
1. Cut the scrapbook paper into 3-inch squares. Be as precise as you can, as that will make assembly easier.
2. Have child lay out the squares in a pattern that is 3 squares tall by 5 squares long. (If needed, draw a grid for him or her to follow.)
3. Cut off a sheet of the contact paper a little bigger than the assembly of squares.
|This is with the backing already removed and
slid underneath so we can see the grid.
4. Peel off the contact paper and lay it sticky side up on top of the backing you just removed. Fold the short sides under to hold it in place on top of the grid from the backing.
5. Help child lay squares face up onto the contact paper.
6. Cover with second sheet of contact paper and trim excess.
Talk About Being Thankful
Once the place mats are ready to use, they will be a steady reminder of the story. Strike up a kid-friendly discussion about it at your Thanksgiving dinner. Start a tradition of turkey day being fun for kids. Even if the food is weird.
Need something simpler?
Check out this quilt patterned free printable Thanksgiving placemat. Easy peasy!