Games to Encourage Thankfulness.
Are you looking for a few low-prep games to inspire thanksgiving on the part of your students, your family and even yourself?
Well, here are three you can play with bean bags.
For two of the games, bean bags are all you’ll need. For the last one, you’ll need some buckets or a few bowls (or boxes… Whatever you have handy.) Each of these games can take up just fifteen minutes or can be played as long as you like.
Thanksgiving is good for the soul.
Autumn is a time to enjoy sweaters, cool walks, and baking sweets and bread without overheating the house.
Yet everything seems to speed up this time of year and we can find the holidays upon us if we dare to blink. In the stores we see Thanksgiving items laid out beside Christmas decorations before October has even closed her door. This used to frustrate me, but honestly, this year I’m filled with anticipation because Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite celebrations.
Woven throughout my family’s history, is a struggle with various kinds of depression and anxiety. As I grew into a woman, my mom shared that history with me and she also shared with me the role thanksgiving can play in refocusing our thoughts.
My mom relied on three strategies when she was depressed:
- Focusing on her belief in the goodness and love of God and casting her cares on Him.
- Giving thanks for past graces and gifts in her life.
- Finding ways to bless other people.
Depression is no light matter, and these are not easy-as-pie strategies, in fact, body chemistry is often involved in depression. However, these strategies have played a part in keeping me going through my bouts with nonclinical depression.
- A spirit of thankfulness helps us and blesses other people as we express our appreciation for them.
- Thanksgiving is an attitude we want to instill in our children as much for their benefit as for the benefit of others.
- Memories of hard times and how we made it through, are especially strengthening (as much as those memories of good times.)
In the midst of the coming Thanksgiving season, these fun games can turn our hearts toward being thankful and perhaps spark some good conversations about memories of times past.
“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” -Henry Ward Beecher
Here are three fun & simple bean bag games for promoting thankfulness.
These games can be played in or out of doors depending on the weather in your neck of the woods. They work great:
- In a preschool with little ones.
- For a rainy day recess at school.
- In your living room for a circle-time homeschool activity.
- For recreation time in a nursing home.
- For Sunday school or youth group time.
- For your family on Thanksgiving Day, when the kids are restless.
You’ll need one bean bag for this game.
- Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other (on the floor or in chairs.)
- One person has a bean bag in his hand.
- He tells what how he is thankful for someone else in the circle, then tosses the bean bag to that person.
- That person tells how she is thankful for someone else in the circle and tosses the bean bag to that person.
Make sure the teacher is also seated in the circle so that he or she can make sure that thankfulness can be expressed for each child in the circle. If needed the teacher start by being the one to express thankfulness for each child and having that child toss the bean bag back after she has tossed it to him. The teacher then repeats this until each child has heard what the teacher is thankful for in that child.
You’ll need one bean bag for this game.
- Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other.
- Start by saying something you are thankful for that starts with the letter A.
- Toss or hand the bean bag to the person beside you.
- That person tells something she is thankful for which starts with the letter B.
- Continue around the circle until you get to Z.
Don’t worry if this gets a little silly. The point is to have fun and get the juices going about being thankful. Another variation is to put on music and pass it around until the music stops, then have that person tell the thing that he is thankful for. Turn the music back on and continue around until it stops, then let the next person say what he’s thankful for.
You’ll need a dozen bean bags for this game and twelve sheets of paper.
- Put the sheets of paper side by side in sets of threes on the floor or on a table (no drinks, snacks or breakables on the table please.)
- On the papers write one of the following words, so that each set of papers has one of each word:
- Divide everyone into four groups (each group will have three bean bags). If you only have a few people, then just make two groups.
- When you say, “Go!”
- The person at the front of the line says a person’s name for which he is thankful then tosses a beanbag in the bowl marked People.
- He then tells something he is thankful for and tosses the bean bag in the bowl marked Things.
- Lastly, he tosses a bean bag in the bowl marked Memory as he tells of something he’s thankful for doing.
- He then picks up the bean bags out of the bowl and passes it to the next person in line.
- The next person repeats steps four and five.
A few important notes: If you have a student in class who has trouble with speech, skip saying “Go!” and having the groups race each other. Instead, make it a turn-taking activity. You can still split large classes into four groups but have them go to different corners of the room to take turns.
This is a game which would be fun to play intergenerationally as younger people could share in the memories of their grandparents.
A variation of this game which might work well in a nursing home would be to tape off the floor in the middle of the sitting area into four squares with a subject for each square which could be marked: Place, Person, Memory, Food. The residents could sit in the chairs and in wheelchairs surrounding the squares. If the bean bag lands on memory, the person tossing the bean bag can tell of a person they are thankful for. If the bean bag lands on place she can tell of a favorite place she is thankful for.
Print out these bean bag games and take them with you.
I know it’s handy to be able to file ideas like this, so feel free to print out this pdf of these games and take them with you to class, or wherever you’ll be using them.
If you’re looking for a great resource to buy fbean bags, Bear Paw Creek has got them for you. You can buy a dozen bean bags and they’ll come with a handy tote to store them in. Speaking of storage, have you taken a look at this post Julie Palmieri wrote about storing movement props and musical instruments? She has great tips and links for organizing. Take a look!
What games will you be playing to connect and get the “wiggles” out with your kids this Thanksgiving? Leave a note in the comments and share your ideas with us.