Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love everything about it, family gatherings, the food, the smells and if we’re lucky the cooler weather 😉
Holidays have come to mean even more to me now that I have started my own family and it’s important that my daughter understands the who, what, where, how and why of what we’re celebrating. Every family is different and of course children come in all different ages, but here are a few ways that I have chosen to introduce Thanksgiving and the meaning of giving thanks to my two and a half year old.
Announce the Occasion
I know, it sounds a little formal, but I make it a big deal when a holiday is approaching. I want my child to be aware of what we are about to celebrate. My opening conversations with her in the car (we do a lot of car chat) go a little like this: “It’s November! We celebrate Thanksgiving in November.”
It starts off very basic (month and holiday) and then eventually I expand on the occasion. Right now we’re sticking to familiar topics like food and family, but if you have older kiddos you can include some fun facts in your conversations, and maybe even encourage them to share these with their teacher or class. For example, did you know that a male turkey is called a tom and a female turkey is called a hen? Oh, and by the way only male turkeys “gobble, gobble” – when hens “talk” they actually cackle (go figure, right?) 🙂
My daughter loves for me to read to her (we literally go through 8-12 short books a day). I love introducing new concepts with stories and pictures because our little ones get to see what we are talking about and it opens up so many opportunities for our kiddos to ask questions. Here are some of her favorite books about Thanksgiving:
Kids love to create stuff! It gives them an opportunity to show or express in their own way what they have learned or how they feel about something. Don’t be afraid to ask your little ones about their creations – sometimes you’ll get some surprisingly interesting or funny answers.
Since I have a toddler I mostly talk about what it means to be thankful. At the end of our day when I’m getting her ready for bed I spend a little time reflecting with her on my day and telling her one thing I am thankful for her. Then I ask her to do the same…it takes practice and you may get a few answers like “I’m thankful for spaghetti” or in our case vanilla milk, but it’s a start, right? You can even turn this into a family activity at the dinner table and write them down, collect the notes in a bowl and then read them aloud on Thanksgiving 🙂