Thanksgiving is around the corner and as a mom, you may be already stressing out about the holiday, because doesn’t that also mean Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas?!! Who has time to teach kids Spanish and do activities with their kids? I know, life is hectic, but I have 7 Spanish words that will teach your child about the essence of Thanksgiving with simple activities that will help them understand each meaning. Not a lot of time but a big return.
Gracias is the most obvious of all Thanksgiving words but you’d be surprised at how many kids don't say it naturally. If you make it a habit to say it often they will copy what you say. So muchas gracias!
Here’s a super simple Gracias activity that will bring a smile to your face, every day. Create a "Gracias Jar." Every morning have your child write something that they are grateful for in Spanish. You can also mix it up and write some days in English. If they are too young to write, you can write it for them. You can create a tradition and read them every Thanksgiving!
Teaching your child to Dar is a life lesson in selflessness. It's important to me to teach my daughter that giving is not something special that we do because it's a holiday but that giving to others is part of our everyday life and there are many ways to Dar.
One simple activity that you can do on Thanksgiving is to look online for a charity or organization that you would like to donate to or Dar with your child. Once you decide, the best is to get them involved in the act of giving, this can be done later. For example, one charity of choice in our home, One Toy at a Time, gives toys to impoverished children all over the world. Every 3 months, we go through my daughter's clothes and toys. She selects the toys and clothes that she wants to "Dar a los niños pobres." She helps me pack the boxes. I show her videos of where the toys and clothes are going to. Now if her clothes no longer fit she simply says, "That can be for los niños pobres."
It’s so important to teach kids to be Amables. There are already enough mean adults, we don't want them to grow up to be one of them, at least I don't. There are so many ways to be kind.
I like to teach my daughter that you do to others as you'd like them to do to you and not to do things expecting material things in return. However, it's nice when they don't expect it, that if they've been kind to abuelo, abuela, they've shared their toys with their primitos, they've helped clean up, and were overall kind to their friends and family that kindness will be shown in return. The reward? Now that's up to you. I like to keep it simple but meaningful. Maybe it's just mommy and me time, a special trip to the playground, or a new book. Give them something that they'll value over a fancy toy or gadget that they'll lose interest in. If given the choice, I know my daughter would pick to go to the playground but only if I'm present and playing alongside her. You are part of their gift.
Sonreir is another way to give someone a hug. Children generally show their genuine emotions so if they're smiling you know that they are happy. However, what if someone gives them something they don't like, should they then smile? I like to tell my daughter that if she was the one giving the gift and the receiver would pout or frown, how would that make her feel? It's not about what you are receiving it's about the fact that someone thought of you in the first place, so yes that is something to smile about!
When my daughter is cranky or grumpy I like to play a game, "Sonreíste!" (You smiled!) I used to play it as a kid and had great fun. It's very simple and you don't need anything to play. The idea of the game is to be serious and look at each other's eyes. You can make silly faces if you want. The idea is to try and not laugh or smile and when they do (cause they always laugh first!) you say "Sonreíste!" It's a fun little game that will turn grumpy heads into happy heads. Also, a lot of fun when abuelita plays!
Thanksgiving is about Compartiendo or sharing a meal together with family or friends or both. It's about spending time with family and friends and that may mean having to share toys and share our homes if we have overnight guests. For children, the concept of sharing and taking turns may not be the easiest to get. I resort to my favorite sharing books.
There are many books about sharing and taking turns but our 2 personal favorites are "Debo Compartir mi Helado?" and "Rainbow Fish" both available in English and Spanish versions. They both offer fun stories with a beautiful message for sharing.
Familia is at the heart of Thanksgiving. We talk about familia a lot. We talk about the different people that make up a familia like, mamá, papá, hermanos, abuelos, tios, primos, etc. We talk about where they live, what they do, and how important familia is.
I don't know about your kids, but my daughter loves to paint and draw. I love watching her draw people. This activity is so easy and fun for them. Ask them to paint a picture of your entire familia. If they don't know how to write yet, ask them who each person is and under each person, write their role like mamá, papá, abuelo, abuela, etc. Make it a traditiona and have them paint a family portrait every year!
Amigos for many are just like family. As someone who lives far away from family, I know that mis amigas are treasures. I've hosted many "Friendsgivings" for those with families far away. It's important for us to instill in our daughter the value of developing good relationships and staying in contact with friends in order to nurture those relationships. My daughter is young right now so it's up to us to stay connected with her friends' parents so she can stay connected.
With today's technology, it's so easy to stay connected and for our kids to have the opportunity to stay connected. I know a very special treat in our home is when we Facetime Victoria's friends. They are so cute, showing each other their toys, or sharing what they ate, or their latest art project, and giggling. It truly makes me happy to help nurture these relationships. Personally, I don't have any childhood friends (I moved too many times), but my husband has stayed in contact with friends since he was in Kindergarten! Truly amazing.
I know Thanksgiving is a crazy time. I will be traveling and not hosting Thanksgiving and I'm sure you will be busy as well. These are ideas of activities that you can do not just for Thanksgiving but anytime throughout the year. For me, the most important is that I am teaching mija lessons to be a decent human being and if she picks up a little Spanish, hey that's not bad at all!
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