Thanksgiving: Looking Back Activity

Promoting thankfulness in our youth – from Creative Youth Ideas by Ken & Josh

Thanksgiving is an American Holiday where people set aside a day to remember what God has done for them over the past year and praise and thank God for the works done in their lives. This game plays on the idea of looking forward yet being able to recognize and picture what is behind. It serves as a metaphor for us, also looking forward to the future, but taking some time to picture and recognize what God has done in the past.

What You Need:

* A variety of simple images related to the Thanksgiving. Some possibilities include a turkey, a pumpkin, a pie, an Indian, fall leaves, the Mayflower ship, pilgrims, etc. You can also use simple greeting cards for the design or images from a Children’s coloring book.

* Paper and something for youth to write with.

How to play the Game –

Form teams of six people.

  1. Instruct each team to sit in a line, one person behind another, and take a vow of silence for the duration of the game.
  2. Give the first person in each line a pencil and a piece of paper.
  3. Then show the last person in each line a simple image of a Thanksgiving object.
  4. That person must use his or her finger to draw the object on the back of the person in front of him or her.
  5. This continues until the drawing reaches the first person in line. He or she must draw it on the piece of paper.
  6. Have judges determine which team’s picture closest resembles the original picture.
  7. If time permits, play more rounds, letting team members change positions if they wish.



MAKE IT SPIRITUAL – In this game, we looked forward but had to recognise things that were behind us. Sometimes it is difficult to look back and recognise God’s handiwork when we are focused only on what is in front of us. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to look back, and recognise what God has done for us, praise and thank God for working in our lives.

In Deuteronomy 8: 10-18 the Israelites were also reminded to look back at what God had done for them.

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”

* List some of the things mentioned in the passage that the Israelites were to praise God for? Were they all pleasant things?

* What lessons can we learn from this passage?


What to do – An optional Illustration

Ask the youth to look around the room and take notice of everything in the room that is red. (You can use any color here as long as there are things in the room of that color) 2. Then ask the youths to close their eyes and name something in the room that is yellow. (Again pick any color that can be found in the room) 3. Most will be unable to name something unless they are wearing that color.

It doesn’t mean that the color did not exist when they were looking around, but the way our minds work, when we focus on something specific, we have a hard time recognising anything else.

The lesson is that if we are always looking at all the negative things in our lives and all of our problems (the red color) we will probably miss all the things to be thankful for (the yellow color).


* Why is it important to Thank and Praise God for what he has done for us in the past?

* What does the passage in Deuteronomy 8 says about why it is important?


* Ask God to help you to examine your life – help you to see all the times God has worked in your life.

* What has God done in your life today and then what has God done this week? This month? Write down a list of everything God’s done in your life during the past year.

* Ask the youth to share some things they have received from God or that God has done for them during the past year?

* What event(s) in your life do you look back on as special evidence of God’s love and care for you?

* Spend some moments in prayer, praising and thanking God for working in your life.

* Ask the youth to keep the list of blessings made during the lesson, take it home, and place it in a drawer or on a mirror where it will be seen often and add to it from time to time.



“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced” – 1 Chronicles 16:8-12

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