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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
Fax: 503-253-7345
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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For 27 Years The Teaching Home Has Been Providing Families
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement from a Distinctively Christian Perspective.
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Co-Editors

Oh give thanks
to the Lord,
for He is good!

Psalm 106:1

Sidebar Contents

  • America's Thanksgiving Heritage

  • TTH Back Issues

  • Free: Evangelism Boot Camp

  • Sunnyside Up

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Thanksgiving Heritage

The Origin of America's
Annual Thanksgiving Day

"The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America (thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607), it was America's first Thanksgiving Festival." Read more.

Thanksgiving in America
by David Barton

"The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back almost four centuries in America. While such celebrations occurred at Cape Henry Virginia as early as 1607, it is from the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving." Read more.

Past Thanksgiving Proclamations

  • Governor William Bradford, 1623.

  • First Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1676.

  • George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation.

  • Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

"This proclamation was celebrated shortly after Lincoln committed his life to Christ and celebrated while America was still in the midst of its Civil War. It was this proclamation which eventually led to the establishment of our national Thanksgiving holiday.

The Mayflower, Pilgrims,
and Early Plymouth Colony

  • Caleb Johnson's Mayflower Website. A complete website dealing with the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and early Plymouth Colony.

  • Scholastic Mayflower Website. Virtual tour of the Mayflower.

  • Plimoth Plantation. Includes a virtual tour.

  • Thanksgiving Recipes from America's Past.

  • Artwork of Thanksgiving and Pilgrims.

Annie's Thanksgiving Home Page

Christian. Also in Spanish. Many pages of arts, crafts, games, activities, history and traditions of Thanksgiving, plus more related links.


HSLDA Protects Your Right
To Homeschool

Since 1983, Home School Legal Defense Association's primary goal has remained the same—to bring together a large number of homeschooling families so that each can have a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense.

HSLDA gives families the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone.

(Use discount group number 299142 for $20 off your membership fee.)


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The Teaching Home
Back Issues

We Want To Help You!

For 27 years, we at The Teaching Home have been providing information, inspiration, and encouragement to home educators from a distinctly Christian perspective.

This kind of support is more personal and warm than you might expect from just words on a page. It is actually real communication from the hearts of like-minded home schoolers who have been where you are, know what you need, and care enough about you to share with you in writing.

Teaching Home Back Issues

Fifty-one back issues are offered online or by mail order.

The information, inspiration, and encouragement packed into each back issue never goes out of date. They are always relevant, applicable to your needs today.

Order securely online.

A reader in Indiana wrote, "I have subscribed for the past ten years. You have been my mainstay. When I first began home schooling, I had no support group, and your magazine gave me the encouragement and knowledge to continue. I have read countless letters from your readers who have said the same thing."

In each issue an average of 58 home schoolers contribute practical how-to articles, encouraging letters, and ready-to-use teaching tips.

"The Teaching Home has been a part of my continuing education since I started home schooling, and I have kept every issue.

"I often go back to old issues to find creative, helpful hints or inspiration." Meredith C., Florida

Finding What You Need

To find articles on a specific topic, go to our online store:

  • See a complete listing of articles for each issue.

  • Use the search box at the top of our online store.

If you already have a library of Teaching Home issues, you might want to use the topical index of our last 39 issues (1994-present) available online so you can quickly put your finger on the articles you need.

Sunnyside Up

Let Your Fingers
Do the Walking

When I was due with my second child, I had false labor twice and had to be sent home from the hospital.

Our 3-year-old, Kristin, was very unhappy at missing a church activity the second time. On the way home from the hospital, she said, "Let's call and make sure the baby is there before we go to get it again!"

Submitted by Tim and Felecia G., Iowa.

Send your humorous anecdote to

God Loves You.

Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Him as our Savior and Lord, He will forgive our sin and give us eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Free Evangelism Boot Camp

The Pocket Testament League offers a 7-part online training course. These lessons will help you to share your faith in Christ.


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Teaching Your Children
The Character Quality of Thankfulness

1.  The Character Quality of Thankfulness

2.  Teaching About Thankfulness
3.  "To Be Thankful, You Must Be Thoughtful"
4.  Provide Examples of Thankfulness
5.  Establishing the Habit of Thankfulness
6.  Thanking Others
7.  How To Write a Thank-You Note

Next Week:Ready-To-Use Thanksgiving Bible Study
and Thanksgiving Day Activities!


Our celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday can be a reminder and impetus to teach our children the important character quality of thankfulness.

Thankfulness is an attitude, even a worldview.  If your child adopts a grateful mindset and maintains it throughout his life it will contribute to his:

 •   Relationships with the Lord and others.

 •   Happiness; causing him to be content with what he has and not complain about what he doesn't have.

A life of thankfulness is a life of joy!

May the Lord bless you and your family for His glory.

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

The Teaching Home is a home-school, family-run business operated in our home since 1980.

New Book!
Goop Tales: Alphabetically Told

Goops Unlimited is pleased to announce the most recent addition to their line of children's character building classics, Goop Tales: Alphabetically Told.

Goops Unlimited founder, Barbara Ross, seeks to bring proper manners and polite behavior back into the lives of contemporary families with her line of family-friendly and whimsical titles.

Introduce the Goops—and good manners—to your family! /  Free USA Shipping!

1. The Character Qualities of Joy

Thankfulness, or gratitude, belongs to a group of the following related character qualities:


"Choosing to be satisfied and at peace with what God has provided, without complaining."

 •   Also: cheerfulness, hope, peace.

 •   See I Tim. 6:5, 6, 8; Phil. 4:11; Heb. 13:5.


"Recognizing, appreciating, and acknowledging favors or benefits."

 •   Also: appreciation, gratefulness, thankfulness.

 •   See Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 2:6-7; I Tim. 4:4-5; I Thess. 5:18.


"Delighting in the service and presence of God regardless of circumstances."

 •   Also: zeal, enthusiasm, heartiness, eagerness.

 •   See Ps. 100:2; Rom. 12:11; Prov. 15:13; Ps. 35:9.


2. Teaching About Thankfulness

Thankfulness needs to be taught. It does not come naturally to fallen human beings.

1. Teach What Thankfulness Means

Start by explaining the following to your children.  This provides direction and motivation for your study of this topic.

 •   What gratitude or thankfulness is and how and why it is a part of the character quality of Joy.

 •   Why it pleases and honors God.

"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" Hebrews 13:15.

 •   How it will make them, and those around them, joyful.

2. Teach What God Says about Thankfulness

You might want to do this during your regular daily Bible and devotional time.  Depending on the time you want to take and the age of your children, address all four qualities of joy (see above) at once, or just one or two each day.

 •   Read and discuss the material presented above on Joy.

 •   Look up and read the scriptures suggested for each characteristic.  Using a concordance, look up other references.

 •   God commands us to be thankful.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" Colossians 3:15.

 •   Consider the results of unthankfulness in Romans 1:21:

"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

3. Memorize Scriptures.

Memorize, review, and meditate on specific verses or passages related to thankfulness.  See those given above or use those selected from your own study.

4. Talk about Thankfulness in the Context of Daily Living.

Throughout the day there are a multitude of opportunities for your children to hear you say aloud, "Thank you, Lord, for . . ." or for you to talk about something for which you are thankful.

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3. "To Be Thankful,
You Must Be Thoughtful"

It is easy to take for granted the many gifts that God has given to us unless we stop and think about them.

1. Consider Others

One way to think about your own blessings is to consider those who have less, as articulated in the proverb "I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet."

In America today we can find many people that have more than we do.  This tends to make us and our children discontent.  (In fact, the secular media's featuring of the rich and famous, combined with commercials that are intended to make you crave more, is a good reason to turn off your TV for good.)

On the other hand, your family can find those around you that have less than you do in terms of physical, family, and spiritual blessings.  Looking farther from home to the poor of Africa can show us the relative luxuries even the poorest of us possess (e.g., water!).

2. Our Response

Besides providing a reminder to be thankful, let these examples prompt a practical compassion in your family as you find ways to share your blessings.

 •   The best blessing you can share is the good news of God's love and forgiveness.

 •   Especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas times, rescue missions appreciate gifts that enable them to provide meals and/or beds for the homeless.

 •   Your family might offer help to home-school families who suffered loss in the California fires (see information on CHEA's Benevolence Fund) or join with families in Georgia praying for rain to provide relief from their drought.

 •   Look for someone in your church that doesn't have family nearby and invite them to share your Thanksgiving feast or other meals with you.

3. Thanks for What We Do Have

The example of looking at a glass of water as being either half empty or half full illustrates the two ways that we can view our lives.  Teach your children:

 •   Instead of dwelling on your problems, look at your blessings and thank the Lord for them.

 •   Instead of looking at how bad a situation is, look at how much worse it could have been and thank the Lord it wasn't.


4. Provide Examples of Thankfulness

The most powerful influence on your child's character is example, for better or worse.  You can help your child by providing good examples of thankfulness and avoiding or pointing out examples of unthankfulness.

1. Parents

The example you set is primary.  As your children observe you being thankful throughout the ups and downs of your life, they will be more likely to become thankful themselves.

2. Companions

"Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (I Cor. 15:33).

 •   Television

Children who watch a lot of commercials on TV, especially at this season of the year, will probably develop intense desires for things they do not have, rather than being thankful for what they do have.

 •   Friends

Like-minded friends who show a spirit of thankfulness can be a positive influence on your children.

3. Examples in Scripture

God has given us many examples in Scripture of right behavior for our edification and of wrong behavior for our warning.

 •   David is the most prominent example; he wrote hundreds of verses in the Psalms that show forth his thankful heart.

 •   Job, in the midst of his loss and misery, and Paul and Silas in prison, are prime examples of praise and thankfulness amid suffering.

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25).

4. Examples in Stories and Literature

Look for and comment on examples of contentment, gratitude, and joyfulness (or their opposites) in your children's and your family's reading.

 •   Family Read-Aloud Time

Spend an hour at a time reading uplifting literature aloud as a family on a regular basis.  (See Gems of Christian Literature on Sale at Keepers of the Faith.)

 •   Include Evaluation

Follow your reading with a discussion of the character qualities displayed or other spiritual principles.


5. Establishing the Habit
of Thankfulness

Help your children establish and maintain the habit of thankfulness.

1. Start with the Attitude

If your children assume that they "deserve" certain things, they will not be thankful for them.

 •   Help your children understand our dependency upon God for everything we are and have.

"For in Him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28).

 •   Teach your children what God says about being content with only food and covering.

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (I Timothy 6:6-8).

 •   Explain that anything God or others do for us, or give us, is an occasion for our thankfulness.

2. "Please" and "Thank You"

Include thankfulness in the basic rules of courtesy that you set for your family.

 •   Teaching your young child to say "Please" and "Thank You" whenever he asks for, or is given, anything is a practical way to teach him to be thankful and to show it.

 •   Start by saying it for him at appropriate times, even before he can talk.

 •   A gentle reminder and later (or for older children) a pause while waiting for them to say "please" or "thank you," if consistent, will soon establish the habit.

 •   You might review this rule with your older children to good advantage as well.

 •   Make sure your children thank others outside your home when they are given something, are wished something (e.g., "Happy Birthday" or "Have a good day"), or have a service performed such as opening a door or being served a meal.

3. Reinforcing the Habit

 •   Discuss good examples of thankfulness, such as how good it makes you feel to receive a prompt and handwritten Thank You card from a friend.

 •   Have your child keep a Thankful Diary in which he writes all the things he is thankful for and checks off those for which he has expressed thanks.

4. Thanking the Lord

 •   Hold hands around the table and quote a verse and sing an appropriate hymn or chorus of praise and thanks.

When growing up, our family held hands and sang "Thank You, Lord" before prayer at dinner every day.


6. Thanking Others

There are many people in our lives to whom we owe our gratitude.

1. Parents and Other Family Members

Model and teach your children the habit of noticing, appreciating, and thanking family members.  Not only is this right and proper, but it also motivates good behavior and a pleasant atmosphere.

 •   Thank the cook after each meal and the person who does the laundry for clean clothes.

 •   Thank children for doing their chores, for being kind to each other, for going beyond their assigned duties, etc.

 •   Thank Dad each night for working for the family.

Besides spoken thanks, surprise one another with a note in Dad's lunch or under your child's pillows, etc.

2. Friends

These are those who love us and our family, encourage us, stand by us, and help us.  We might be tempted to take our friends for granted, but how it warms the heart to receive a note like:

"Thank you for all your love, support, and friendship over the years.  Your family means so much to our family.  One of God's greatest blessings is having friends like you!"

 •   Remember, too, your Pastor and fellow Church members.

One church that we attended provided space on an attendance card in which to write a note of appreciation to a fellow church member.  Then the notes were placed in the offering plate and mailed to the recipient during the week.

3. Those That Serve Us

Even though the mailman, garbage collector, and newspaper carrier are paid for their service, they deserve and appreciate thanks.  This is why many people give them a small gift at Christmas.

 •   Include an attractive tract to enrich your gift with God's offer of eternal life.

 •   Remember also statesmen, authors, and teachers.

4. Those Who Have Been a Blessing to Us in the Past

You may realize that a teacher, pastor, neighbor, or friend you haven't seen for years has contributed something significant and important to your life.  Wouldn't they love to hear that you remember them with thankfulness?


7. How To Write a Thank-You Note

There are many ways to express your thanks to others:

 •   A Phone Call or a Personal Visit

 •   Thoughtful Gifts and Service

 •   Letters, Notes, and Cards

A thank-you note is a very important expression of gratitude after you have been a guest at someone's house for dinner or overnight, received a gift, or been treated with special kindness and generosity.

1. Write Promptly

 •   Part of the value of a thank-you note is that it is received soon after the gift or service.

 •   Procrastination often leads to an embarrassing lapse of time that can discourage you from writing at all.

2. Use Appropriate Materials

 •   Choose a nice card or stationary.  You can buy a preprinted Thank-You card or make your own.

 •   See how to make cards using many techniques and materials.

 •   Keep a supply of cards or stationary on hand so that you are prepared to send a thank you immediately.

 •   Always use a pen (not a pencil).  Your child may need to first write out his message on plain paper and then copy it into the card.

3. Be Specific

 •   Mention the gift or service by name when thanking the sender.

 •   Say why you like the gift and what you plan to do with it or how you will enjoy it.

 •   If you enjoyed someone's hospitality, tell them something specific that you appreciated.

4. Mail It!

 •   Follow through with putting an address and stamp on your note or letter and putting it in the mail.

 •   Keep stamps on hand to encourage card and letter writing.


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