Teaching Children the Meaning of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Holidays, Education: Big Kids, Education: Tweens

Teach your children about the meaning of Thanksgiving! Credit: Getty Images

Thanksgiving can mean many things: family, turkey, football (not necessarily in that order). None of those topics, however, have anything to do with the history behind the holiday. So how do you teach the meaning of Thanksgiving to your children?

The first Thanksgiving in the United States is generally considered to be a feast held by the Pilgrims at the Plymouth colony with the Wampanoag Indians in 1621, though there's controversy over what the actual "first Thanksgiving" was.

Speaking of controversy, there is no shortage of it when it comes to the holiday. What should we call the non-Pilgrims who were in attendance? The term "Indians" is generally frowned upon, but is still used in some schools, so your kids may have heard the term. "Native Americans" is the most politically correct term, although Native Indians and American Indians are acceptable to some. Being politically correct isn't the only controversy of Thanksgiving. Some folks even feel that celebrating with a turkey is offensive.

Vegetarians want a piece of Thanksgiving as well, but without the meat. Actress Ginnifer Goodwin suggests adopting a turkey from Farm Sanctuary; you even get an adoption certificate - so everyone can have their turkey.

Since the name of the holiday is Thanksgiving -- as in "giving thanks." DIY Life suggests asking "each family member take a turn saying out loud what they are thankful for." (However, answering "football" is only acceptable in Minnesota and Wisconsin.)

And for those who prefer to teach by example, Thanksgiving crafts are always a hit. Holidash has several adorable suggestions, or, to keep things simple, make your basic "trace your hand" turkey.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.