Sometimes, young children feel lost in all the preparations, activity and loudness of family gatherings. With a little planning, families can set up a simple way to include children and keep them …
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Sometimes, young children feel lost in all the preparations, activity and loudness of family gatherings. With a little planning, families can set up a simple way to include children and keep them busy during meal preparation. They can learn about the seasons, holidays, how everyone needs to help, develop thoughtfulness and appreciation.
Before Thanksgiving gather colored leaves pressed in a book, gourds or small pumpkins, pinecones, dried corncobs and fall flower blossoms. Gather materials and place all the things in a basket. On the day of the dinner, children will pass out items and a name card to each person. Family members will have a chance to say something they are thankful for and place a decoration from nature on a tray for a family cornucopia. This will take practice with young children, but the result will make a great family movie
When there are many cousins around, a quiet break helps the day go smoothly.
Before dinner some of the older family members can take the younger ones in another room and play a few board games while they chat together and answer some questions. Why do we have a national holiday called Thanksgiving? What are we supposed to do on Thanksgiving besides eat? How did people help you this year? How did you help others? Are there things we could do better? What are we thankful for and what will we say when it is our turn to share our gratitude around the Thanksgiving table? What would a recently deceased family member say?
Changes are coming
Also, talk about the seasons, especially the fall and how the things that have been growing all summer are ready to eat. How is nature getting ready for winter? Explain how leaves turn colors. What are animals like squirrels and chipmunks doing to prepare? Do they notice the family pet growing a thicker coat? If older children do not know the answers to these questions, they can use a search engine like Google to find the answers in advance. Give children a chance to think, discuss and practice what they plan to share while giving thanks. Remember to thank all the helpers!
Once the family is seated, take a minute or two for each person to mention something they are thankful for and place their decorations in the family centerpiece. This activity can be used for family gatherings any time during the year to remind us the meaning of family.
Children can draw fall pictures for place cards or simple napkin holders. Children can also count the number of people and set the table with napkins and silverware.
Esther Macalady is a former teacher, who lives in Golden, and participates in the Grandparents Teach Too writing group. For more learning tips see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com the wnmufm.org/ podcasts and the website grandparentsteachtoo.org.
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