Thanksgiving Sunday School Lesson & Thanksgiving Activity

In this lesson we’ll explore how the Apostle Paul’s difficult experiences, including beatings and imprisonment, led to a profound understanding of gratitude in adversity. Discover how his unexpected songs of praise in prison demonstrate unshakeable faith. Engage your class with interactive activities like creating a thankfulness board and hunting for Biblical promises. Unveil the power of gratitude in the darkest times and challenge your class to find joy and thankfulness in their own lives, just like Paul did.

Group Worship

Thankful

Help your kids remember that they should be thankful, no matter what! When we remember all the God has done for us, we can always find a reason to be thankful!

Lyric & Motions Video

Good In Every Way

A fun song to remind us that in every way our God is good. “Come on now, join with me, Everybody sing, I’m going to lift my voice to glorify my King!”

Lyric & Motions Video

Thankful
Song 8

Group Worship

Thankful

Help your kids remember that they should be thankful, no matter what! When we remember all the God has done for us, we can always find a reason to be thankful!

Lyric & Motions Video

Thankful

Good In Every Way

A fun song to remind us that in every way our God is good. “Come on now, join with me, Everybody sing, I’m going to lift my voice to glorify my King!”

Lyric & Motions Video

Song 8

Opening Activity | Thank You Cards

Thank You Cards

It’s craft day!

Gather some card making supplies…
Blank cards (or paper to make cards), markers, stickers, envelopes, and any other card-making accessories.

Then…
Have the children use the materials to make thank you cards for someone they are thankful for in their lives.

After they are done they can give the cards to whoever they are thankful for.

Thank You Cards

Object Lesson | Thankful Overflow

Objects Needed: A clear vase, vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, a baking pan, water, and acorns (or anything small that you can put into the water).

Put the vase on the baking dish and fill up the vase with water. Mix in a scoop of baking soda and squirt in some dish soap and give it a quick stir.

Give each child an acorn and have them take turns coming up, saying something they are thankful for, and adding in the acorn.

After each child has added in their acorn you can explain how we have a lot of things in our hearts to be thankful for!

“When is the last time you said you were thankful for something? Looking at this vase we clearly have things in our hearts to be thankful for but are we giving thanks to God for these things?”

Add in a little vinegar and see how it overflows!

“Let’s not let these things just sit in our heart but let’s let our thankfulness overflow and give thanks to God for these things.”

Lesson Script

Materials Needed: Musical instruments (can be small ones like maracas or toy instruments). Large poster board or white board, marker. Print out God’s promises (see the end the lesson script), cut them out, and hide them around the room before class.

 

Without any introduction, start singing and making a bunch of noise with some musical instruments (you can play music if you don’t want to sing solo). If you have extras, toss a few to random students and ask them to join you. (Song suggestion: something simple and repetitive like “Rejoice in the Lord Always”)

Hey everyone. I’m feeling so thankful! Bet you can’t guess why. (Kids will probably guess a bunch of good things).

Nope. I didn’t win a million bucks in some sweepstakes. I didn’t buy a new car. Didn’t get a new job or promotion or raise in my salary. I’m not celebrating my kid getting an A in school.

Here’s why I’m singing. This morning when I woke up, I stepped on a LEGO my kid left on the floor beside my bed. I jumped in the shower, but the hot water wasn’t working. Then I spilled my coffee all over my white shirt, and burned breakfast. My kids complained that the pancakes were disgusting, so we all ended up getting in a fight. (You can change this to talk about sad or annoying things that actually happened to you that week).

And that’s why I’m singing! I’m SO THANKFUL!

Ok, I know I sound like a weirdo. How can anyone be thankful after such an awful morning?

Well, I read Ephesians 5:20, and it says:

Ephesians 5:20

“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything.” (NCV)

 

So that means I have to say, “Oh, thanks, God!” for my burnt pancakes, cold shower, and stubbed toe, right?

Not exactly. It means I can be thankful no matter what happens to me. Because there’s one thing that NEVER changes in my life. What do you think that is? (Allow for answers).

GOD. God never changes. We can count on His love and help in the darkest times. And yes, we can even be THANKFUL.

Let me tell you about the guy God used to write the words in Ephesians 5:20. His name was Paul. He used to live his life searching for Christians and beating them up and throwing them into prison.

But then God got ahold of Paul. Paul met Jesus! And he became a Christian. So he stopped chasing Christians, and ended up being the one chased by non-Christians. Then he was the one being beaten up and thrown into prison.

But here’s the thing about Paul. He wasn’t the type to throw a pity-party. He didn’t mope and stick out a poochie lip. That’s because he was deathly afraid that a little birdy would come and doo-doo on it.

Just kidding. He didn’t mope, even while sitting in a dirty, nasty, prison that smelled like a combo of an old cheese sandwich sitting in your backpack for 4 months, plus sewage and skunks. Gross!

He had shackles on his feet and hands, so he couldn’t scratch that itch on his back. He had bruises, scars, and was constantly hungry. How in the world could he write the words, “Give thanks in all things?”

Well, one thing that Paul liked to do in prison was SING. I don’t know if he had a voice like Harry Styles or Ed Sheeran, but he gave concerts. Yes, I’m not making that up. The Bible tells us how he would sing loudly in prison, loud enough for all the other prisoners to hear. That counts as a concert, right? He sang the way we were singing a few minutes ago. Songs that praised God, even though you might think he had nothing to praise God for.

Paul sang to keep his heart thankful. That’s why, inspired by God, he wrote:

Ephesians 5:19-20

“Speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord.Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NCV)

 

(You can have a student read the verse out loud)

Paul sang so that he would be reminded that God is still good, and that He had a purpose for his pain.

And we can do the same!

I like to follow Paul’s example and turn on some music when I feel sad. Or when I’m not feeling thankful. It really helps to take my mind off of the sad and annoying things happening in my life. It helps me throw away bad thoughts and replace them with good ones. Then I can be thankful and praise God, even when I don’t feel great.

That’s why I came in here singing and making so much noise today. It really works! Did any of you feel more thankful after singing than you did before? That’s great!

Now, you know another way to help get an “attitude of gratitude”? Buy it at the nearest Walmart! Just kidding. I wish it were that simple.

But it’s not that hard, either. You just have to FIND something to be thankful for. There will always be something! Even if you have to dig deep, deep down in your heart, because you’re having an extra-whiny day. We all have those sometimes.

Here’s what you can do on one of those “do you want some cheese with that whine?” days. You break out the cheese! Ok, not exactly. You break out a list of everything you’re thankful for. You write it down, and maybe even tack it on the wall or the fridge where you’ll see it front and center!

Let’s make one right now. (Have each student say something they’re thankful for. Write it on a large poster board or a white board).

And what about if you just can’t come up with a list? What if you, like Paul, end up without the common things we put on that list? Like food, house, and family?

That’s when it’s time to SEARCH and FIND the promises of God. They won’t fail you! I’ve hidden some around the room for you to find right now. You can keep whatever you find! (Although, all the promises apply to everyone, of course!)

Finish by letting the students find the promises hidden around the room. Then have each student read what they found. They can also look up the verses that go with each promise and read them out loud. Finally, close in prayer.

 


 

GOD’S PROMISES (PRINT AND CUT)

GOD PROMISES HE WILL NEVER LEAVE ME OR FORSAKE ME. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

GOD WILL GIVE US REST (Matthew 11:28-30)

GOD WILL PROVIDE WHAT WE NEED (Philippians 4:19)

GOD WILL FORGIVE OUR SIN IF WE ASK HIM (1 John 1:9)

GOD PROMISES US ETERNAL LIFE IN JESUS (John 3:16)

GOD PROMISES TO BE OUR SAFE PLACE (Psalm 91:2)

GOD WORKS THINGS OUT FOR OUR GOOD (Romans 8:28)

GOD HEARS US (1 John 5:15)

GOD WILL BLESS US IF WE OBEY HIS WORD (Luke 11:28)

GOD IS OUR GOOD FATHER (Matthew 10:29-31)

What does it mean to FOLLOW Jesus?
Free 6-week curriculum:

Play games, laugh together and teach your elementary class what it means to be a "disciple" - to follow Jesus with their whole heart.

Followers-Series

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Ballons-Smile

Group Game | The Great Turkey Grab

Ballons-Smile

Objects Needed: Four plastic baskets (laundry baskets work well), balloons, tape, and permanent marker.

Place two lines of tape as the start lines for each team. Put one basket at each start line and the other two baskets a couple feet from the start line. Blow up the balloons and draw turkeys on each one. Fill up the baskets near the start line with an equal amount of balloons.

Divide the kids into two teams and have them stand in line at the start line. The first two kids in line will grab the balloons and try to toss them into the basket across from them. They will get a minute to toss as many as they can. When the minute is up however many balloons they got into the basket they have to say that many things they are thankful for. They will then go to the back of the line and the next two kids will start.

Keep track of which team gets more balloons in the basket and wins.

Memory Verse

Ephesians 5:20 (NCV)

"Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. "

Small Group Questions

What does Ephesians 5:20 mean?
We can be thankful no matter what happens

Why can we be thankful no matter what happens?
Because God never changes.

Who wrote those words in Ephesians?
Paul.

What did Paul do before he was a Christian?
Beat up Christians and put them in jail.

What happened to Paul after he became a Christian and taught others about God?
He was put in jail.

What did Paul do while he was in prison?
He sang praises to God!

Why did he sing praises to God in prison?
To keep his heart thankful.

What is a good way to help you be thankful when you are having a bad day or moment?
Sing and/or listen to music!

What are some promises that we listed today in class?
Allow for answers.

Small Group Activity | Thankful Tree

ThankfulTree

Objects Needed: Sticks, brown, red, orange, and yellow construction paper cut into leaves, markers, hole puncher, vase or mason jar, and string

Put your sticks in the vase or jar so it looks like a tree.

Give each kid a leaf or two. Have them use the markers to write something they are thankful for. After have them hole punch a hole at the end of their leaves. Tie a string onto their leaves and have them hang their leaves on the tree.

Keep the tree in the classroom so both you and the kids can be reminded of all the things they can be thankful for.

ThankfulTree

Words For This Week

This is included with every lesson I create, and is designed as a printout for you to give to parents after class.

 

Do you ever have days when everything seems to go wrong? Everyone does! But even when things aren’t going our way, we can still be thankful. That sounds crazy, but it’s true! Ephesians 5:20 tells us to give thanks to God for everything, and not just the good stuff.

Paul, the guy who wrote that verse, knew what it was like to suffer. He was chased, beaten up, and thrown in prison for preaching about Jesus. But he didn’t throw a pity-party in prison….not even close.

Instead, he sang! Even in a dirty, smelly prison with shackles on his feet and hands, bruises, scars, and hunger, Paul sang praises to God.

We can do the same! When we’re feeling sad or unthankful, we can turn on some music or make a list of things we’re thankful for. And if we’re having an extra-whiny day, we can dig deep and find something to be thankful for.

If that’s still hard, we can search for the promises of God. They won’t fail us! We can even make a game out of it and hide them around the room to find.

So, even on our worst days, we can still have an “attitude of gratitude.” Let’s take a cue from Paul and sing, make lists, and find God’s promises. And always remember, God never changes, and we can always be thankful for that!

Key Thought:

There’s always a reason to be thankful!

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