Fun and Educational Thanksgiving Books Plus Bonus Printables, Videos and Other Activities


I found these neat Thanksgiving printables at The Crafty Classroom.

I printed them out and can’t wait to use them this Thursday for our Thanksgiving table. It would be good to laminate them, but my laminator is still in a box. I’m going to tape the place mats to our old place mats that are shaped like turkeys.

The place cards have a conversation starting question or task for them to do, such as “Tell a silly story about yourself.” or “What are you thankful for?”.

We are getting pretty excited about Thanksgiving around here.

We have read “‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving”.

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

It was really funny. We all enjoyed it.

We also read “Thanksgiving at the Tappletons”.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons

It was also really funny.

Some other good books to read in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Day at Our House Kelsey’s favorite. She reads this to the younger kids every Thanksgiving.

Thelonius Turkey Lives Kelsey likes this story and the recipe at the end for Sweet Potato Casserole. There’s another recipe in it, too, for Thelonius’ Feather Cookies.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh – enough information to be interesting, story about the Hopkins family, but easy enough for younger readers to read. This is a chapter book and covers the main topics of the Pilgrims, Indians and the First Thanksgiving.

Pete the Cat and the First Thanksgiving This is a lift-the-flap book. I haven’t actually read it yet, but I like Pete the Cat’s other books, so I assume I will like this one, too.

The Story of the Pilgrims Introduction to the story for younger children.

If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 Informative, makes kids think about what it must have been like to be a Pilgrim.

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks Helps younger children understand why celebrate Thanksgiving – so we can give thanks! To God, for those of us who believe in Him. And to have a thankful attitude, in general.

The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving Good for ages 4-8, tells what it was like for Pilgrims in terms children can relate to, but describes hardships in a way they can handle.

Squanto’s Journey – lots of information about the details of Squanto’s life.

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl – uses actual photographs of a 10 year old girl in period dress who reenacts Pilgrim life at reconstructed Plimoth Plantation.

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy Same format as Sarah Morton’s Day, but for boys!

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas – well-researched, historically accurate.

Another fun book to read is A Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. The price for this at Amazon is ridiculous. I would get it at the library if it’s available. There are no copies available in our library system here. It is a very popular book. Here’s a summary of the story:

“Every year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. “Ask someone poor or lonely,” she always said. Thanksgiving was Grandmother’s favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board. But she wasn’t happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house? After a long absence this delightful 1971 classic is back. So is Grandmother’s secret recipe!” The recipe is included at the end of the book.

Here is a fun way to learn more about Thanksgiving. A project pack from Hands of a Child for only $3.00. I recommend the lapbook ebook download or the Note Pack, which is like a lapbook but made to just put in a notebook instead of cutting little booklets. Students write information which is provided in the research guide.

Thanksgiving Curriculum from Hands of a Child

And no Thanksgiving celebration would be complete without A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

This cupcake idea would be fun to do to go along with the movie. This idea is on my Pinterest page and comes from here.

And here’s the story of the First Thanksgiving told by the Peanuts gang. Click on the YouTube button so it will go automatically from one clip to the next.

What a Thanksgiving!

I baked all day Wednesday and accomplished everything on my list, except for the most important thing. The day started with a jolt when I realized that our beverage supply was depleted and we needed bread and milk, and I needed apples to make apple pie (Emma and Abby love those green apples), so Anna, Abby and I went to the store. Then we ate at Subway, using our coupons. Then we went home and Anna and I got busy with our pies. She made two pumpkin pies, and I made an apple pie. Fiona and Emma made the Chocolate Crinkle cookies. Garrett baked brownies. Katie and Kelsey made turkey cookies with the little ones. We even went to the YMCA that evening.

Then we set out to accomplish our most important goal of the day – picking up Daddy at the airport. Shawn went with me as usual, and this time we picked up another passenger. Emma wanted to go pick up Daddy. After all, she had drawn a map to help him find his way home.

So we headed south for Baltimore. Suddenly, as we crossed into Maryland, I had to go to the bathroom really bad. We were running a little late, so I thought I would have to wait until we got to the airport. We were humming along, making pretty good time when the phone rang, and Gary, with much furiosity and contempt for Continental Airlines told Shawn that his connecting flight took off without him. He was stuck in the airport in New Jersey with no way of getting to Baltimore that night. He told us to turn around and go back. I needed to find a place with a bathroom, so I kept driving until I found an exit with a McDonald’s. It was after 11:00 PM. We finally found one, and I was never so thankful for a McDonald’s in my life!

Gary called again and said that he was going to fly into Harrisburg the next day by 1:30 PM. I would have to drive north tomorrow in the middle of Thanksgiving Day and pick him up at the other airport. But I was fine with that. At least he would be home for Thanksgiving.

He had to sleep in the airport. Continental did not provide anything for him. They said it wasn’t their fault. Gary won’t be flying with them again.

So my plans got rearranged a little bit. I put the turkey in the oven when I got up like I had planned. I started making the dough for the dinner rolls. I made the Peanut Blossom cookies, peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s Kisses in the middle. I put Kelsey to work on the sweet potato casserole. We got the recipe from a picture book called Thelonius Turkey Lives.

I told her to start on the green beans after that. Katie was taking a shower, so I didn’t get a chance to tell her what to do. But I left my list on the counter.

Shawn and Anna and I went to pick Gary up, and I left the other kids watching a free NEST showing of William Bradford on my new laptop.

Kelsey was in charge until Katie got out of the shower.

We picked Gary up without a hitch – PTL. He had settled down and wasn’t so angry any more, but he still has no love for Continental.

We got home and Katie was busy with thawing the frozen Hawaiian Rolls. She started on the corn. Anna worked on the dishes. Katie made the Stove Top stuffing. I cut up potatoes for mashed potatoes. Kelsey formed the homemade rolls. I made my kind of stuffing. Anna cooked the asparagus. I cooked cream corn. Anna made gravy. I mashed the potatoes. I put the rolls in the oven. We were like a well-oiled machine, kind of. Katie kept finding bowls for everything and setting them on the table.

I went over to the table and saw that we didn’t have any room for plates, so we could sit there and eat! We took all of our centerpieces off the table and started setting out plates and silverware. Morgan had been guarding the food from the little ones, so he helped me set the table. Fiona helped set out the silverware.

We were just about ready when I heard Gary say something to one of the kids about going to start playing a game. I told him we were ready!

I put food on plates for Emma and Abby before the rest of us sat down to keep them occupied.

I had everyone say what they were thankful for. Some were silly, some were serious; nobody was very eloquent, everybody was hungry! Then Gary gave thanks for all that God has done for us. His prayer wasn’t very long, either. He was starving! Then he carved the turkey, and we all dug in.

We had our usual Peanuts music playing in the background.

Everybody ate until they were stuffed. Very few of us had room for dessert.

After dinner we watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We had put it in for Emma and Abby to keep them occupied while the rest of us ate. We watched and reminisced about how we watched those with Shawn when he was little. He’s about to turn 21 in a little more than a month.

The boys put the leftovers away and cleaned the dishes.

I had the kids watch The Charlie Brown special about the Mayflower Voyage. We told Gary some of the new stuff we had learned about Squanto. Then the older kids played some X-Box with Gary. They refrained from playing it all day until then.

Then the day was over. A peaceful, relaxed holiday spent with the people we love most, rejoicing in spite of adversity and hardships (like spending the night on the cold floor of the airport – poor Gary), and remembering the goodness of the Lord.

Thanks for the memories! At this point, I’m thankful to have a memory!

This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers

Thanksgiving tradition for the Douglas family.

Very informative and entertaining. The Peanuts gang play the parts of the Pilgrims. My kids love this. We found it a couple of years ago and have watched it every year since. Kelsey found it yesterday on Netflix, so they all watched it.

On Netflix now, This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.

Updated 11/25/13

Thanksgiving is About More Than Just Eating

My girls helped a lot with the cooking and preparing. Fiona helped cook because she wants to be a chef some day.

Anna stirs the gravy.

Abby got to eat first. Call it a peace offering.

Emma is a two-fisted eater.

Fiona’s happiest when she’s eating. Maybe that’s why she wants to be a chef!

Anna and Morgan dig in.

Kelsey’s plate is loaded!

The twins and Emma had their own little table.

Lots of compliments and sighs of contentment were heard at the table. The twins helped make the place cards so that we would all know where to sit this year. That actually did help!

Patrick and Morgan were happy to be seated close to the turkey.

I do love my own cooking. Every Thanksgiving I find out what a good cook I am! Shawn likes my cooking, too. He told me numerous times during our feast! What a great son!

Great shot of Patrick

The clean-up crew

Emma and Fiona make “turkey cookies”

We used holiday Fudge Stripe cookies this year, so our turkeys had red and brown tail feathers!

Kelsey and Fiona love making turkey cookies! They’re finger-lickin’ good!

The turkeys get more creative every year!

Fiona put a hat on one of her turkeys and called it a gardener.

I had to get in on the turkey act.

We watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” – family tradition, you know. There are important lessons taught in this movie. That’s where I got the title for this post!

Then I let it keep running and a movie I’ve never seen before came on. It was called “It’s America, Charlie Brown – The Voyage of the Mayflower”. We were watching it on Hulu, and that was what came on right after the traditional Peanuts special. It was wonderful. It gave a lot of history of the hardships the Pilgrims faced on the Mayflower and in America after they arrived. It was a great review for my kids, and it really held their attention. I can’t believe I never knew about this show!

Of course, we had to have popcorn while we watched movies. The littlest one requested it. And it made our Thanksgiving celebration more authentic!

The Peanuts gang played the Pilgrim children. I was amazed at how much information they gave in an enjoyable way.

Here’s the video of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “It’s America, Charlie Brown – The Voyage of the Mayflower” for your viewing pleasure!

I thought the day was about over, and all the educational value had been squeezed out of our activities. But, lo and behold, Fiona came to me and handed me two papers for me and Daddy. One was about the Pilgrims and the other about the Indians. She drew adorable pictures of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and the Indians with a turtle that put a leaf on its head so that it looked like it was wearing a feather. Even the sun had a feather headband. I was really pleased with her creativity and initiative.

She folded her paper up like an envelope and drew pictures on the outside. This is how the Indian picture looked when she brought it to me. She took these pictures herself with my camera.

These are the two envelopes with the Pilgrim and Indian pictures drawn inside of them. I think these were brilliant. And she’s not afraid to try new things. She learned a little about using my camera, too.

Today was a great culmination of our unit study about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. I didn’t really plan any school type stuff today. It just happened!

I have so much to be thankful for. Thank You, Lord, for a wonderful family and a wonderful day with them today.

Happy Praise-Giving!

Happy Praise-Giving!

By Wendy Lanier,
Guest Writer – With Thanksgiving approaching at an alarming rate, I’ve been giving some thought to the whole idea of giving thanks. The Pilgrims weren’t the first to suggest it. The Scriptures have always made it clear we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:18). Obviously, this was written long before there was a Pilgrim in sight. If it’s God’s will for us to give thanks, there must be more to it than we might first suspect.

At first glance, giving thanks is simply the opposite of being ungrateful. In general, our culture frowns on ungratefulness as being impolite. People who are not grateful, who never write thank you notes, or who fail to acknowledge the thoughtfulness of others are considered rude. Being ungrateful just isn’t done in polite society. Being referred to as “ungrateful” is definitely not a compliment, which means the opposite (being grateful) is considered a good thing in most circles.

But could it be there is more to giving thanks than just being polite? If being thankful is God’s will, as the Scriptures tell us, why is this so? Could it be our Creator and Master Designer knows something about what makes us tick that we don’t fully understand ourselves?

In the book of Galatians, we find a list of attributes known as the fruits of the Spirit. It’s worth pointing out—fruit can be cultivated. Maybe the reason it is God’s will for us to give thanks is because He knows that giving thanks stimulates the growth of fruit. Among those is the fruit of joy! Ultimately, giving thanks leads us to joy. It makes us happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy?

On a recent hiatus from work trying to stave off a cold, I spent part of my day flipping through magazines. In one of them I came across a health article about this very topic—happiness. In it the author suggested a number of tips for promoting the healthy state of being happy. The important thing, the article maintained, is to concentrate on the main ingredients of happiness, such as solid relationships, gratitude, and “that magical thing called hope.”

First, I was struck by the idea hope could be considered “magical.” I’m not sure why it’s so magical, unless of course you don’t know where your hope lies.

I also found it interesting the author was able to identify gratitude as an ingredient for happiness. It seems that secular psychiatrists are figuring out what God has known all along. Grateful people are healthier people. Their blood pressure is lower, their cholesterol is better, they suffer fewer heart attacks, and they just generally feel better than people who spend all their time griping and complaining instead of counting their blessings.

For us as believers who count our blessings and “name(s) them one by one” as the old song says, it follows that our thanksgiving will turn to praise. As we recognize what God has done for us and give Him thanks, we are filled with awe for who He is and His exceeding greatness. When we exalt and honor Him, our praises rise to Him as a sweet smelling offering.

Praise—true praise—has a way of getting God’s attention. There’s power in that. Our God inhabits the praises of His people. When we praise Him, it’s as though He bends down a little closer and says, “Ah, I like that. Bless your heart. Now what can I do for you, child? How can I bless YOU?”

Getting God’s attention is a good thing—for us. Not so good for the enemy. For this reason he has a vested interest in keeping us from focusing on our blessings. His ploy is to keep us mired in the muck of our circumstances. Life is truly like a bed of roses. The roses are there, but so are the thorns and the fertilizer. The trick is to stay focused on the roses.

Sometimes when the conditions I’m in are crummy, I find myself gritting my teeth and announcing Psalm 34:1: I WILL bless the Lord at all times. His praise WILL continually be in my mouth. When I’m tempted to fall into despair or allow the weight of my circumstances to crush me, I say it. I WILL. I CHOOSE to praise the God of all creation in spite of my circumstances.

No matter what happens, God is good. I give thanks because He is good. I choose to acknowledge Him for His excellent greatness. I praise Him for everything—answered prayers, a beautiful day, a good parking place, a way out of the circumstances (even if I don’t see one), people I love, and so on.

And then a funny thing happens. I find I am no longer gritting my teeth. My smile is no longer forced. From deep down in my spirit something begins to bubble up—something that goes beyond just happiness. JOY! Happiness is dependent on circumstances, but joy comes to those who know there is nothing magical about hope. Joy is the reward of those whose faith and hope is in Jesus Christ. His joy becomes my strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and I can face whatever comes my way with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Wendy Lanier, author, teacher, and speaker, is a former science teacher who loves sharing the timeless truth of God’s Word through the spoken and written word.


This goes right along with the theme that God has been trying to impress upon me – I MUST give thanks! In the midst of the most trying circumstances, He wants me to not be anxious but to give thanks. I am to make my requests known to Him and then give thanks. There’s no room for anxiety or depression. It is real faith when we do this in the midst of a looming threat to our safety or our security. I know He will answer my prayers. I am to start thanking Him for them even before I see the answers. I must choose to praise Him and thank Him.

Philippians 4:6 strikes again! “Be anxious for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7) And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I thought it was interesting that she brought out the fact that secular psychologists consider hope “magical” because they don’t know where their hope lies. Hope needs to be tied with faith in the only One who can change our circumstances. Hope helps us to hang on until our faith becomes sight.