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Preschool Thanksgiving and Gratitude Lesson Plan

CeCe has served as Vice President and President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (Affiliate)

There are a variety of activities that help children get into the Thanksgiving spirit.

There are a variety of activities that help children get into the Thanksgiving spirit.

Learning Objectives for Thanksgiving and Gratitude Lessons

Objectives: Listening, problem-solving, self-expression, vocabulary, sharing, taking turns, large and small muscle, and memory development.

Circle Time

Need to start a conversation about gratitude? Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks (The Julie Andrews Collection) includes a beautifully illustrated music score in book form and CD. "I've got a roof over my head. I've got a warm place to sleep. Some nights I lie awake counting gifts instead of sheep."

  • Hot Potato Grateful Game: This take on Hot Potato is a hit! Pass the potato around the circle. When the music stops, child with the potato names a person in his or her life and a thankful thought.
  • Someone Very Special: "I am grateful for someone very special." The teacher invites each child to come up and take a peek in her hand held mirror. Decorate the front of the mirror and the children will be surprised!
  • Ms. CeCe's Grateful Duck Duck Goose: How would we manage without this item? This game is a conversation starter! You will need several envelopes with an everyday item printed on a piece of paper inside each envelope. Child travels around circle, dropping envelope with printed item in another child's lap, taking his or her place. Teacher whispers item in chosen child's ear, and child shares with the group! This is a way for the children to realize that each of us takes so much for granted everyday.

Learning Centers

Fun and child-friendly Thanksgiving ideas for learning centers.

Fun and child-friendly Thanksgiving ideas for learning centers.

Language Arts:

A piece of paper is divided into four squares. Child narrates four gratitude drawings to teacher. A blessing bag is another idea. Half sheets of paper are used for children's drawings and narratives. Children love to use Ziploc bags for storage! Gratitude drawings and narratives may be shared at gathering time.

Dramatic Play: Grateful for Homes and Households

Create the scene for a family dinner. Gather kitchen supplies, place settings, utensils, and plastic food in the housekeeping area. Model a centerpiece on the table. Later in the week, children may rotate their centerpiece creations from the Art Center. Another addition? A grocery store or farmers market. Clear the shelves of toys, and replace with boxes of food for the grocery store. Don't forget the environmentally friendly bags and pretend money.

Art: Grateful for Family Meals Centerpieces

Using child friendly bottles (smaller opening sports or shampoos) children add artificial flowers or grasses. Children may decide to cover vase with fabric.

Place mats: These place mats are fun for a fall or Thanksgiving table setting. You will need burlap cut to place mat size, plastic weaving needles and yarn. Child creates a design on place mat. This project is great for fine motor skills. Also important? Practicing sewing skills! Later these centerpieces and place mats may be used in the housekeeping area.

Math: My Healthy Body

A fun child centered activity building a foundation for fractions. Children measure ingredients into a Ziploc bag for snack or take home treat.

  • 1/4 cup cheerios
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pretzel sticks

Materials Needed for the Following Lessons

  • Language Arts: White paper, Ziplock or paper bags and crayons.
  • Dramatic Play: Kitchen supplies from housekeeping, assorted cans or empty food boxes, paper grocery bags and pretend money.
  • Art: Smaller opening child friendly bottles and artificial flowers or grasses. Burlap, weaving needles and yarn for place mats.
  • Math: Measuring cup, cheerios, raisins and pretzel sticks.

Drama: Bear Says Thanks

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson is the perfect children's book to adapt for a play about gratitude! Read the story first and then let the children draw for the characters of Mouse, Badger, Hare, Gopher, Mole, Raven and Owl. Introduce idea of main character, setting, plot and props. A story board could be created, or a taped version. These story time productions will be requested again and again!

Movement and Music

Song and movement can help children learn from Thanksgiving-themed activities.

Song and movement can help children learn from Thanksgiving-themed activities.

Movement and Music Lessons

Ms. CeCe's Over The River Game (concept of over and through)

Teach the lyrics to Over the River and Through the Woods. You may decide to sing while sharing photos from a copy of the book. This will give the children a feel for this Thanksgiving classic.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go. The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods, oh how the wind does blow. It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go.

The Over the River Game is also an opportunity to teach measurement of one yard. Measure two pieces of string, one yard each. The two pieces of string will represent the river. Children may take turns, pretending to be horses, jumping across the river. Sing along with the fun! Musical instruments are a fun addition.

Ms. CeCe's Under The Bridge (concept of under)

This is sung to London Bridge and a fun addition to first week getting to know you activities. Children are lined up ready to pass under the bridge. The first few times the game is played, the teacher may help form the bridge.

(Child's full name) is passing under, passing under, passing under. (Use full name of new child passing under) is passing under. My friend (first name of child). Child is caught in bridge. Continue until all the children have had a turn being caught!

Traveling Under and Over

An obstacle course! Children love a course where they can travel under and over objects! Cardboard building blocks from the classroom are a fun addition!

Gathering Time

This is is perfect time to review the day. Did you have a favorite activity? The I Am Grateful For... drawings from the Art Center may be shared as well!


Decaturflyfisher on September 27, 2017:

Cece has many years of working with young children, and I love her take on these activities centered around gratitude. Perfect for fall and Thanksgiving!