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Give thanks — Christian education at home

There is no doubt that the last many months have been challenging.  And while the difficulties of the pandemic shouldn’t be ignored or made light of, giving gratitude for the goodness around us isn’t an exercise in futility.  In fact, it can be a life-affirming and life-giving practice, especially when we focus our gratefulness toward God.  Using Psalm 105 as inspiration, you and your children will create a visual offering of gratitude to God.

Begin the time with your children by playing “the thank-you game.”  Sit together in a circle.  Then ask each person to thank another person in the family for something she has done or said in the last week.  Continue to rotate through your family members for several rounds.  Discuss how it felt both to offer thanks to someone and to receive thanks.  Note that giving and receiving gratitude “fill us up.”  Expressing and hearing gratitude reminds us that we are valued and that we are connected to one another.

Read aloud Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c.  Share with your children that like us, God loves receiving our gratitude.  Many of the psalms were written to do just that.  Discuss how this particular psalm lets us know that we are called to give God thanks.  Then have your children brainstorm a list of everything they are grateful to God for.  You may want to write these down so that you have a record of their thoughts for the next part of the lesson.

Remind your children that the psalm tells us not just to “give thanks to the Lord,” but also to make God’s deeds known among the peoples (Psalm 105:1).  Together select and complete one of the following crafts to share gratitude for God.

  • Window signs: Gather sheets of paper, crayons or markers, and clear tape. Ask your children to write or draw pictures of what they are grateful to God for. Encourage them to make their letters or pictures large.  Tape the completed pictures to the windows of your home.  Make sure they are facing outward so those passing by will see them.
  • Sidewalk chalk: If you have sidewalk in front of your home, ask your children to write or draw pictures of what they are grateful to God for. Let them know they are sharing their thanks not only with God, but are also letting all those who pass by your home see the goodness of God.
  • Mobile craft (see picture): Gather sheets of paper, crayons or markers, a hole punch, yarn, and a clothes hanger. Cut the paper into 4-inch squares or circles.  Ask your children to write or draw pictures of what they are grateful to God for on the paper pieces.  Then use the hole punch to place a hole at the top of each piece.  Cut enough pieces of yarn to be used for each piece of paper.  Make sure the yarn pieces are varying lengths.  Tie a piece of yarn to each piece of paper using the hole made by the hole punch.  Then tie the yarn to the clothes hanger, staggering the pieces across the hanger to make a mobile.  Place the mobile on your porch or in a prominent location in your home as a reminder of God’s good works.
  • Poem: This activity is best to use with older children. Ask your child to write a poem sharing what he is grateful to God for.  Encourage him to share the poem with your pastor to use as part of a future worship service.

JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALEis the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.