By Beth Pinyerd

Right after Halloween and harvest festivals, it seems like Christmas just busts into the commercial world! Wait! Where is Thanksgiving? As parents and teachers, how can we preserve Thanksgiving in the hearts of our children for now and in the future?
Reflections upon the year, and having hope for the future, establish gratitude and thankfulness for families in order to provide a valuable Thanksgiving lesson for our children to learn. We have a whole week to take teachable moments as Thanksgiving approaches.
“Lest you Forget” is a way to connect our Thanksgiving celebration to the first harvest feast and celebration that brought the Pilgrims and Native Americans together. This special time of looking back at history can be enhanced by reading books to your children.
There are valuable resources with pictures that you can share with your children about the first Thanksgiving. This is a good time to share of your own family history and traditions. Children love to hear stories of when their parents and grandparents were children having Thanksgiving.
Children love to write and draw things they are thankful for. Give your child simple post-it notes to write or draw what they are thankful for. These can be posted on the refrigerator, doors, walls, mirrors, etc. to remind families how blessed they are. Children love to do hand turkeys with fingers as the feathers. On each feather, the children can write and draw what they are thankful for.
We don’t have to look very far to give and share with a person in need. I have a next-door neighbor who is a mother of two young boys who look for ways to help others.
When I drive up with groceries or heavy book bags, these two boys help me unload my trunk to take heavy bags into my home. This truly encourages me and warms my heart.
Opening a door for an older person or helping a person who is disabled by rolling a grocery cart for them when they enter a store are simple acts of kindness that mean so much. These are simple acts of kindness and life lessons that are easy for a child to learn and children feel the happiness and joy of helping someone else.
As parents, caregivers, and teachers of young children, it is so important to begin teaching children manners at his age. When serving snacks to 3-year-olds, I love to hear them say thank you.
When asking for something, teaching a young child to say “please” as well as saying “I’m sorry” when doing something wrong is instilling good manners into a child’s life. Manners help so much in interactions with others.
As parents and teachers, we are the best model a child has in understanding gratitude. Being thankful for the big and little things in life by verbally expressing this is a simple act that will bring joy and happiness for your child to model and understand. Being conscious to thank your child for the little things they do for you encourages them to want to help more.
As Thanksgiving approaches, be sure to include your children in family projects. Having them help you with simple tasks in meal preparation as well as outreaching to others creates a lot of Thanksgiving togetherness as a family. During the Thanksgiving holidays next week, be sure to stop and be thankful for God’s many blessings.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in Opelika and Baldwin County. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education as well as a bachelor’s degree in family and child development, both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. The Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures and events by e-mailing her at