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Thanksgiving Games for Family Memories

Thanksgiving Rituals are for making memories, and GAMES are memorable.  NONE of these ideas cost a thing, except a little time.  And to children, love is spelled T-I-M-E.

turkey-historyThanksgiving Song Writing

Try out this song that is included in “A Year of Fun,  Just for Fives” by Theodosia Spewock.  (This is a fabulous series by the way, from birth to 5)

Sing the following words to “The Farmer In the Dell”.  Sing it LOTS of times with the children so they are comfortable with the words, and the motions I’ve added.)

·         Thanksgiving Time is Here  (both hands as an open gesture)

·         Let’s give a great big cheer (Arms up in the air and shout “Hoo – Ray!”) 

·         For food and friends and family. (with right fingers, touch mouth, hand & heart)

·         Thanksgiving time is here.  (same as above)

NOW, for some before meal fun (even during the days before).  Allow the children to re-write some of the words.  Start by making a list of the things they are thankful for – get as many ideas as possible.  Then review the list, and have them choose what they want to change to the third, and possibly fourth line (if more room is needed).  You may also ask them what they might use differently as a CHEER, like “Cool Beans!”, “Whoo-Whoo!”, “That’s PHAT!” (Pretty Hot and Tasty actually works here), or even “Go Gators!”.  Then have them practice their OWN song.

During the Thanksgiving meal is a great time for the children to share their songs.  Be aware that some may not want to “perform” their own song, they may feel more comfortable with having MOM, sing it for them (or whoever helped them write their song).  THAT’S OK!  At such young ages, they are still so connected that if they choose who sings it, it provides them the same sense of pride as if they sang it themselves.  Give options:  Would you like to sing it, or would you like (someone else) to sing it, or do you want to sing it together”.  “If (someone else) sings it, do you want to make the cheer?”  Why do we offer these options?  Because we want to form POSITIVE MEMORIES of family togetherness, not pressure or stress.

Asked to write a composition entitled, “What I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving,”
little Timothy wrote, “I am thankful that I’m not a turkey.”

maleturkeyThankful Turkey Round Up

Cut out or draw dozens of pictures of turkeys (a copier might come in handy).  Have as many family members as possible fill out ONE thing they are thankful for on the body of the turkey.  That morning, or when they arrive, have young children make their OWN turkey by tracing around their hand on white paper, coloring their fingers different colors for the feathers, and decorating their thumb as the head of the turkey.  In the body of the turkey, write their answer to “What does your heart feel thankful for?” (this sometimes elicits more thoughtful responses).  Then cut out their hand art, making sure to leave makeshift turkey feet at the bottom.

Hide them around the house and have a turkey hunt (make sure to count them first, so you know how many should be found).  When a child finds a turkey, they must make the turkey sound “gobble, gobble”.  All the children can bring the turkeys they find to a place you have designated as the Thankful Turkey Roundup.   There is no competition, just a gathering of the turkeys until they are all found.

Once all of the turkeys have been gathered, you CAN have a “gobbling” contest.  Each participant can have their individual time to gobble (make sure the video is running).  Instead of choosing a winner, I recommend highlighting what was positively unique about each person’s gobbling technique.  “Sara wins the Sweetest sounding turkey.”  Of course, there is always the LOUDEST turkey, or the Drama Queen turkey, or the most melodic turkey, the Turkey that most sounded like a Bear.  Have fun awarding each child their title, and include their new Turkey Title on their personal Turkey that they drew with their hand.  These are great memory keepsakes, and fit easily into a journal, scrapbook, or memory box.  Make sure to include the year!  What a wonderful set of memories could be gathered over the years.

You may also want to include a fun variation that gets the adults involved as well.  Have ONE person read each of the “thankful” comments on each of the turkeys one by one.  After each comment, ask “Who’s THIS TURKEY?” and everyone has to Guess WHO made that comment.   It can be a fun way to get to know each other better, and have some fun sharing the spirit of the holiday.

For more ideas for Thanksgiving Rituals, check out my following blog postings:

Over the River and Through the Woods, through Kindermusik we Go

Includes the words to the classic song, as well as a variety of ways to enjoy the song, and pictures of some students enjoying a sleigh ride last week.


Music Connections is wishing you a jazzy Thanksgiving

Watch a video clip of a Peanuts Thanksgiving


For more information on Family Routines and Rituals, look to these sources:

MY blog posting:  Routines and Rituals are critical for children

This is a simple introduction to the difference between routines and rituals.  It also introduces Becky Bailey’s book called “I Love You Rituals”, which is a wonderful book that spells out, in detail, how to connect with your children more than you ever thought possible.  Although, Kindermusik rituals allows families the opportunities to learn these types of connecting activities together, practicing them in fun ways, and extending the ideas to personal family preferences.



Excellent Research article – http://www.apa.org/releases/rituals2.html


The Joy of Family Traditions website, http://www.joyoffamilytraditions.com, offers books and workshops to help families get to the “heart” of the holidays, and every day.  Oooh, some of those workshops sound really wonderful!

See:  Tradition of the month to find fun ideas for Thanksgiving rituals

See:  Appearances:  Radio Broadcasts – They do Radio Talk shows, and are schedule twice in Nov. and once in December.  The first option is on Wed., Nov. 26th at 7:20 am. on a digital radio that is accessed online.



HAPPY THANKSGIVING !!!  May your memories linger pleasantly for generations!

Debbie Mondale


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