The students will be able to explain why it is good to give thanks to God. They will be able to tell different ways in which they can thank and praise God.
Introduction: Contact your students during the week and ask them to bring an article for a "Thanksgiving Show and Tell." As you begin your class session, let your students show their articles and tell why they are thankful for it. (Bring an extra item or two for visitors or any student who might have forgotten to bring something.)
Climax: The Psalmist spoke of the greatness of the Lord and the depths of His thoughts.
Conclusion: God is worthy of our highest praise.
Response: The students should be able to explain that we should be thankful and filled with praise to God for His wonderful works.
Under the Old Testament economy, God provided a special means for giving thanks by way of the "peace offering” (Leviticus 7:11-15). The priest, as God’s representative, was to receive the best portion while the rest of the sacrifice belonged to the offerer and was eaten in a sacrificial feast. This usually was a voluntary offering, given to the Lord spontaneously because of some particular blessing received, but was also required at the Feast of Pentecost as a reminder to Israel of God's care for them. In addition to this the Lord instituted several festivals, where attendance was required, for the express purpose of offering thanks to God. At the Passover time they were to give thanks for God's deliverance from Egypt. On the Feast of the Firstfruits they were to recognize God's bounty in the Promised Land. The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost was to be a time of joy and thanksgiving for the Lord's blessing of the harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles was to memorialize God's care for the Children of Israel in the desert and to give thanks for the productivity of the land of Canaan.
Not only were the Children of Israel required to give thanks, but God was very angry with them when they began to murmur and complain (see Exodus 16:2; 17:3; Numbers 14:2; 16:11,41). They were also warned not to become unthankful by forgetting God when they began enjoying the prosperity of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8:1-20).
The Christian is also required to give thanks, not by an animal sacrifice or attendance at some feast, but by offering himself a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and by keeping an attitude of thanksgiving in all situations. As Paul said, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Philippians 4:11).
Special Instructions for Unit 27: Give each child a page from their Praying Hands book and have them write their memory verse for this week, as described in the unit material under the heading Unit Projects.
Use several pictures of different things for which we are thankful. Place them on a board and cover each one with a white piece of paper. Number the pieces of paper from 1 to ? (depending on how many pictures you use). Some ideas for the pictures: Jesus on Calvary (for salvation), balloon (air we breathe), friends, family, sun, moon, home, food, church, Bible, clothes. Hand out numbered envelopes with a label inside describing the picture. One at a time, ask each child holding an envelope to find the corresponding numbered picture, remove the paper, and tape the label to the bottom. Ask the children why we are thankful for each one and then expound on it.
Fill a cornucopia with vegetables, fruit, etc. Label each item with something for which we should be thankful. Let the children take turns coming up and taking something out of the cornucopia and reading the label. Talk about how we can show God that we are thankful for each thing written on the labels.
Make a large "Thank You" puzzle from posterboard (see Patterns). Draw the different things on the puzzle pieces or cut them from colored paper and glue them to the puzzle pieces. As you arrange each piece on a large board tell the children why we should be thankful to Jesus for all of the items (weather, toys, food, clothing, animals). Have all repeat at the same time, "Thank You, Jesus!" Last of all, ask them if they know the best way to show Jesus they are thankful. At this time put up the last piece of the puzzle, the heart. Tell them Jesus will really know they are thankful if they give Him their heart.
Have a Thanksgiving popcorn review for the children. Pop enough popcorn before Sunday school so all of the children can have a small bagful to take home. Prepare a corn popper in front of the department and give each of the children a couple of popcorn seeds. Ask them to come forward, one at a time, and tell of something they are thankful for as they drop their seeds into the popper. When all the seeds have been dropped into the popper, tell the children that Jesus always blesses us when we do what He wants us to do. While this corn pops and gives forth a nice aroma, pass out the popped corn that you prepared earlier.