How kids can create a happy Thanksgiving

Check out these ways to make the holiday exciting for kids and grown-ups alike.

Thanksgiving can be so much fun: loads of guests and loads of favorite foods! But sometimes "turkey day" might seem like a repetition of the same old routine. If you want to liven things up this year, here are a few activities that will make the holiday more memorable and meaningful for you and your whole family.

• Get involved: We all enjoy what we help to create. Ask Mom, Dad, or Grandma if you can help cook, shop, decorate, and clean up. Put out crayons and drawing paper to keep the younger children entertained during dinner.

• Make giving thanks fun: As guests arrive, ask them to write on index cards what they've been most thankful for in the past year. Collect the cards in a basket and read from them at several points during the meal. Guess who wrote each one of them.

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• Start a new tradition: Have everyone sign a Thanksgiving book that will stay with your family. Take a picture of the whole group and put it in the book (or in an online journal) to share with others and to savor over the years.

• Showcase family strengths: Ask a lawyer to discuss her favorite Bill of Rights amendment or a teacher to talk about how he engages students in class discussions. Maybe you can share the most interesting thing you've learned in school recently.

• Sing: Print out a song sheet for each guest and ask everyone to join in a sing along of a few patriotic songs. Some ideas: "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

• Donate to charity: Collect a small donation from each guest. Then gather the rest of the kids together to decide where the funds will go. Ask the grown-ups if you need help with ideas.

• Remember the earth: Take the opportunity of celebrating the harvest to talk about ways that Americans can do a better job of helping to care for the earth and its natural resources.

Adapted from Freedom's Feast activities at www.freedomsfeast.us (click on Thanksgiving Resources).

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