Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year! I love being able to reflect on my life and really appreciate all that I have. I also love being able to discuss this with the children that I make music with. I believe that even young children can begin to understand what it means to be thankful.
Being thankful and giving thanks are HARD concepts. It usually takes a bit of explaining so that my clients and students can truly understand the meaning of both. Incorporating a song like “Give Thanks” into my November music therapy sessions is the perfect way to begin a discussion about all of the things we can be thankful for.
Some of the goals addressed in this song:
- Increase social skills
- Increase verbalization of “thanks”
- Improve fine motor skills
When teaching a more challenging concept like giving thanks, it’s always best to start off simple. I usually introduce the song by asking children what their favorite person, thing, or even food item is to get them thinking about all of the things they love. I discuss how much we all appreciate that person or thing, and that we should say thank you.
After a quick discussion, it is the perfect time to demonstrate different ways to say thanks, such as a thumbs up or the ASL for “thank you”. These are two verbal and also gestural ways to make the same statement, which makes this song easily adaptable for children of all ages and varying levels of communication skills.
The chorus of “Give Thanks” details the different things or special people in our lives for or to whom we typically say “thanks”. Because the chorus is repeated multiple times throughout the song, it gives children several opportunities to participate in giving thanks or just listening and understanding the message of the song.
After children have a solid understanding of what it means to give thanks, I encourage them to think about specific things in their lives that they’re thankful for. Many children are thankful for their grandparents, teachers, pets, and their toys.
It is so cute to hear what they are thankful for; sometimes they are thankful for things that are very relatable, like mom and dad, but other times, they just crack me up with the specific things they’re thankful for (such as a dragon race car or their favorite princess dress).
But by far, the best is when I hear children reporting to their caregivers all of the things they are thankful for, and their caregiver’s shocked face that their child understands and can identify what they are thankful for.
Being thankful can help us adults stay humble and grateful, and it’s never too early for children to understand this concept as well. Giving thanks should be a practice for all ages, and with a little musical support, we can make a challenging topic accessible for even the youngest kiddos.
Let me know in the comments: how do you teach thankfulness to young children?
You can listen to this song in its entirety right here. Lyrics, chords, mp3, and instrumental track for this original song is available for download. As is the case for all Listen & Learn Music creations, we invite you to adapt this song as needed to best serve your students and/or clients.