November can be a strangely in-between time for planning singing times. You’re done with your program, (yay!) but it’s not quite time for Christmas songs yet. It’s a great time to teach a few new fun songs, or one of your old favorites that you haven’t gotten around to yet. But sometimes, thanksgiving can get lost in the mix. There’s not that many Thanksgiving songs playing on the radio, but there are A LOT of excellent Thanksgiving songs in the Children’s Songbook! (And in the hymnal too if you were curious!) There are 24 songs under the topic of Gratitude! A few of my favorites are Father We Thank Thee for the Night p.8, Thanks To Our Father p.20 and if you’re thinking about doing a round for Christmas, give your kids a head start by learning For Health and Strength p.21, which is only one line and will give your kids some practice with the concept! But, whether you’re learning a song about gratitude or an old standard, this activity can help you give Thanksgiving the attention it deserves!
First, you’ll want to print these leaves. There’s one for each letter in Thanksgiving.
Start by asking what holiday is coming up this month! Explain that Thanksgiving is made up of 2 words, “thanks” and “giving”. Have one child come up and pick one of the leaves out of a bag. Ask them to think of either something they are thankful for or a way that they could give (think service) during this month that starts with the letter on the leaf. If younger child is picking the leaf, really emphasize the sound that each letter makes to help them think of a word that fits, or let their teacher help them. If they get the letter anywhere in the word, I’m good with that. Put the letters up on the board as you go, to spell out “Thanksgiving”, and write the “thanks” or “giving” word coming down from it, like a crossword puzzle. I like to try to think of a song that goes with whichever word was chosen to sing once the leaf is up. For example, if someone says they are thankful for trees, we could sing Popcorn Popping, My Heavenly Father Loves Me or Autumn Day. But, if you’d rather not be on the spot like that, come up with a list of songs you’d like to sing. If you’re learning a new song with this activity, learn a new section of the song with each leaf that goes up. If you’re running out of time (because Thanksgiving has 12 letters) have 2 kids come pick leaves at one time. That will cut down on all the thinking time too! At the end, you’ll have “Thanksgiving” spelled out on the board and lots of things to be thankful for and give this season!
In senior primary, start with all the letters scrambled up on the board, and see if they can guess what word they spell. Again, go over how both “thanks” and “giving” are in the word. Pick someone to go first and ask them to think of either something they are thankful for or a way that they could give that starts with the first letter, ‘T’. (They might have some trouble when it gets to ‘V’ so let them think of a word with a v in it anywhere!) Write it on the board, then give everyone 10 seconds to think of a song that goes with that word. I like to count it down silently on my fingers. If they can’t come up with one and none of the adults, including yourself, can think of one either, pick a song about being grateful or let their teacher pick their favorite one to sing! At the end, talk about all of the things that we have to be thankful for and ways that we can give in the month of November!