Use this Bible lesson to teach preschoolers about the real meaning of Thanksgiving.
1. Friends!–(Supplies: paper, tape, and crayons.) When children arrive, greet each one excitedly and say, “Hi, friend!” Then direct children to paper taped to the wall. Have children draw pictures of their friends.
2. Warm Welcome-Have your class think of all the things they could do or say to make a visitor feel welcome in their class. Then have them do and say those things to a real or pretend visitor.
Afterward, say: “A long time ago, the American Indians were the first people in America. This was their home. One day, some people called the Pilgrims came from a faraway land to America. They rode over the ocean in big boats. They were visitors in this big new land. The American Indians welcomed them and helped them learn how to live here. They taught them how to plant crops so they would have food.”
Read aloud Proverbs 17:17. Ask: “Were the Native Americans the kind of friends that God talks about in the Bible? Were they helpful and loving?”
3. Music-Makers–(Supplies: small cardboard tubes, beans or rice, plastic wrap, rubber bands, wrapping paper, curling ribbon, and clear cellophane tape.)
*Say: “To celebrate their new home and friendships, the Pilgrims and American Indians had the very first Thanksgiving dinner. They wanted to give thanks to God for all the ways that he had taken care of them and given them what they needed. We’re going to sing a song of thanksgiving to God with all of our friends-just as the Pilgrims did-but first we need to make musical instruments.”
Give each child a paper tube. Wrap plastic around one end of the tube and secure it with a rubber band. Put about 1/2 cup rice or beans in the tube, then wrap the other end with plastic and a rubber band. Help children wrap and tape the wrapping paper around their tubes. Twist the ends of the paper and tie curling ribbon around the ends.
4. Thanksgiving Song-Lead children in singing this song to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me.” Have kids shake their music-makers as they sing, “Thank you, Jesus, I will sing. You’re my Savior and my King. Thank you for my friends today. I’ll praise You Thanksgiving Day. Chorus: Yes, we thank Jesus (3x), Because he loves us so.”
5. Snack–You’ll need: Plain popped corn, salt, butter-flavored salt, sugar, cinnamon, Parmesan cheese, and bowls.
Directions: Give each child a bowl of plain popcorn. Tell children that the American Indians and Pilgrims ate corn in many different ways, such as corn-on-the-cob, soup, bread, and even popcorn! Have children put their choice of seasoning on their popcorn, or eat it plain.
Kenn Gorman is a children’s minister in Wenatchee, Washington.