Teaching Children to Appreciate Nature on Thanksgiving

by Mark Stevens
As Thanksgiving Day nears, the temperatures begin to drop and the leaves begin to fall. It is again time to pass the message on to our kids about just why we are giving thanks for so many things, including the amazing wonders of nature.
There are many traditions and stories related to this holiday, but it is nature that is at the heart of it all. As the ripe plums, apples, and nuts peek down at us and pumpkin vines spread their arms, children can witness firsthand how squirrels and bees go to work.  Animals depend on the maturing fruits and vegetables that the land brings, and so do we! Helping children to become aware of our connection to the land and the gratitude that it is due is the biggest step in helping ensure that future generations treat nature with love and respect.
The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are a good time to take walks in the countryside and to talk to our children about the nature we pass on our paths. They can witness how our food is harvested and can feel the connection with their own hands. Our children can pick berries and mushrooms under our supervision and feel why we are giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day.  It is important that our kids learn at an early age how much enrichment it is to themselves and others to be able to give thanks at Thanksgiving and the whole year through. As we prepare the food on this special day, let us think about where it comes from.
Say a prayer or some words of gratitude with your children to give thanks for the creation of humans in nature and as a part of nature.
Thanksgiving: The name alone has a peaceful ring to it. For many people, it calls to mind the meal the Pilgrims had with the Native Americans in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Farmers and those who profit from their successful crops likely value the good harvest most on this day because they are still very connected to the land. It is a day on which family and friends pack their suitcases and visit the people who are dear to them. Thanksgiving is a day on which many people return to their nests of origin.
Here is a list of five ways to help your children appreciate nature on Thanksgiving:
1) Take walks with your children and talk about the sights and sounds of nature.
2) Go out with your children to collect flowers, twigs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, grass, and seeds.
3) Collect colorful leaves together and place them on a piece of wax paper once they are dry. Then press them between the pages of a big book.
4) Paint or draw with your children the things you've discovered in nature or take pictures and form a collage.
5) Let your children cook with you and talk about the source of the food as you cook.
As we delve into the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, and corn, and top it all off with a cold, sweet slice of pumpkin pie, let us discuss with our children why their legs are growing and why their hair is like silk. Why was Mommy’s milk so scrumptious? She was eating the blessed foods that nature created and passed the nourishment on to her children by way of milk. Now the children are eating the foods of the land directly and should know why nature should be respected and treated with care. Let us give thanks. Let’s make this the most natural Thanks-Giving ever!