Almost every year, my kids enjoy Thanksgiving 感恩节 / 感恩節 (gǎn’ēn jié) crafts and activities that focus on gratitude and common Thanksgiving traditions. Since the United States is a country of immigrants, we use these activities to encourage learning and discussion bilingually. They have been fun ways to combine our Asian and American cultures!
This post was originally published on November 18, 2017 and has since been updated with new activities.
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While each activity should take less than 30 minutes to prepare at home or school, please don’t feel bad if you can only do one or if the holidays just get too busy. Remember, this is a menu, not a buffet! Some years, we do more than others. Last year, I can’t remember if we did any Thanksgiving crafts!
Thanksgiving resources for kids
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- Thanksgiving Picture Books in English & Chinese
- 10 Thanksgiving YouTube Videos for Kids in Mandarin Chinese
Thanksgiving translations in Chinese, Pinyin, and English
Gratitude is something that we talk about regularly in our home, and I think it’s important for our children to practice expressing thanks sincerely.
Since I’m learning Chinese with my children, I took notes on common Thanksgiving terms in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English. I hope this can help other parents who are interested in learning Chinese, too!
The list below has words about gratitude in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English.
Common Thanksgiving words in Chinese and English
In Chinese, 感恩节 / 感恩節 (Thanksgiving) literally translates to “thanks for grace holiday”. Here are other common Thanksgiving terms:
- 感恩节快乐! / 感恩節快樂! (Gǎn’ēn jié kuàilè / Happy Thanksgiving!)
- 假期 (Jiàqī / holiday)
- 火鸡 / 火雞 (Huǒ jī / turkey)
- 肉汁 (Ròuzhī / Gravy)
- 土豆 (Tǔdòu / Potatoes)
- 南瓜 (Nánguā / Pumpkin, squash)
- 南瓜派 (Nánguā pài / Pumpkin pie)
How to express gratitude in Chinese and English
- 谢谢 / 謝謝! (Xièxiè / Thank you)
- 感谢 / 感謝 (Gǎnxiè / thankful, grateful)
- 感激 (Gǎnjī / thankful, grateful)
- 欣赏 / 欣賞 (Xīnshǎng / to appreciate)
- 我感谢______ / 我感謝_____ (Wǒ gǎnxiè_____/ I am thankful for _________. )
- 我感谢大自然。/ 我感謝大自然。 (Wǒ gǎnxiè dà zìrán. / I am thankful for nature).
- 我感谢阳光。/ 我感謝陽光。 (Wǒ gǎnxiè yángguāng. / I am thankful for sunshine.)
- 我感谢食物。/ 我感謝食物。 (Wǒ gǎnxiè shíwù. / I am thankful for food.)
- 我感恩_____ / 我感恩_____ (Wǒ gǎn’ēn_____ / I am grateful for _________. )
- 上帝的恩赐 / 上帝的恩賜 (Shàngdì de ēncì / God’s gifts)
- 数算你的恩典 / 數算你的恩典 (Shù suàn nǐ de ēndiǎn / Count your blessings)
- 献上感恩的心 / 獻上感恩的心 (Xiàn shàng gǎn’ēn de xīn / Give thanks with a grateful heart)
- 非常感谢你! / 非常感謝你 (Fēi cháng gǎn xiè nǐ! / Thank you very much!)
- 我很感谢你们大家。/ 我很感謝你們大家。(Wǒ hěn gǎnxiè nǐmen dàjiā. / I’m so thankful for you all).
- 你对我真好! / 你對我真好! (Nǐ duì wǒ zhēn hǎo! / You’re so good to me!)
- 麻烦你了! / 麻煩你了! (Má fan nǐ le! / I‘m bothering you!)
Thanksgiving gratitude banners
I made this printable Chinese Thanksgiving banner to decorate our room with words of gratitude! Happy to share them with you all.
What you need and how to set it up
- Banner template:
- Happy Thanksgiving – Black font
- Happy Thanksgiving – Orange-brown font
- Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart – Black font
- Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart – Orange-brown font
- Printer (color printer or monochrome laser printer)
- Card stock paper (color, pastel, or white)
- Ribbon and/or cotton twine
- Hole punch
- Paper trimmer
- Gold paint pen
For directions, please refer to this post about printable Chinese birthday banners.
Hanging up these words in our minority language helps normalize Chinese for our family. Since each word is large and visible, my kids can gradually memorize the Chinese characters each time they look at it.
Gratitude paper pumpkins
This is a simple craft inspired by Fireflies and Mudpies! Paper strip pumpkins are similar to these Valentine’s Day paper lanterns that we made last February.
To boost conversation and literacy, we wrote messages of gratitude on 1″ wide strips of construction paper with a gold marker. My kids wanted to use cream, orange, and green to match our real pumpkins!
If you don’t have time to write Chinese, feel free to use our free printable templates:
- Paper strip pumpkin with gratitude phrases – simplified Chinese
- Paper strip pumpkin with gratitude phrases – traditional Chinese
This can be a great chance for kids to practice cutting. However, to save time, we used our handy paper trimmer. As show in the image above, the strips can be collapsed and stored away if you want to save the craft for future years!
To see a great step-by-step tutorial, please check out Fireflies and Mudpies.
DIY Thankful tree
My son loves to collect sticks from the park, and he put them together to form a mini tree! Time spent outdoors is always very relaxing and naturally educational. Never underestimate how much kids are learning through observation and interaction with sticks, leaves, and other park times!
When we got home, my son wanted to add paper leaves. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we turned this into a Thankful Tree 感恩树 / 感恩樹 (gǎn’ēn shù), and we also discussed the fruits of the spirit. My friend told me that our stick tree reminds her of a wishing tree 许愿树 / 許願樹 (xǔyuàn shù).
I think many kids would enjoy making a thankful, wishing, or fruit of the spirit tree at any time of the year, not just Thanksgiving!
What you need
- Tree branches
- Colored paper (construction paper, printer paper)
- Can or jar
- Small rocks
- Gratitude leaf templates
How to set this up
- Put branches in a jar
- Put small rocks in jar to hold branches in place
- Cut paper in leaf shapes
- Talk to kids about what they are grateful for! Write down all of the cute, sweet, and funny things they say. Invite older kids to write their on words of gratitude. 🙂
After our tree is set up, my kids have enjoyed going back to look at the different things they wrote. You could turn this into a literacy game where you find matching words!
If you want to make a “Fruits of the Spirit Tree”, here are the translations for this bible verse:
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
- 但圣灵的果子是仁爱、喜乐、平安、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信实、 温柔、节制；这样的事，是没有律法禁止的。Galatians 5:22-23 CNVS
- 但聖靈的果子是仁愛、喜樂、平安、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信實、 溫柔、節制；這樣的事，是沒有律法禁止的。Galatians 5:22-23 CNVT
Turkey coloring pages
To mix a bit of reading, number/color review, and Thanksgiving, I made these turkey coloring pages for my son and my friend’s daughter. As usual, these printables are free, and you can download the files from the following links.
- Simplified Chinese
- Traditional Chinese
Giant thankful wall turkey
A few years ago, my daughter and I set up this giant thankful turkey craft. I got the idea from my childhood school teacher who set up something similar on our classroom wall!
What you need
How to set this up
- Cut turkey
- For turkey’s body, use an 8″x11″ brown sheet of paper and round the edges
- For turkey’s head, cut a large circle
- Don’t forget the eyes, nose, and the snood!
- For turkey’s feathers, we folded an 8″x11″ paper in half and cut biconvex shapes
- Ask each member of the family what they are thankful for
- Write blessing on each feather. For preschoolers and older kids, you can use this as an opportunity for practice with tracing or writing words.
- Tape to wall with painter’s tape
The giant wall turkey was up in my daughter’s bedroom a few years ago, and she had fun rearranging the feathers! My son was only 1 at the time, so he was entertained by the roll of tape. 🙂
Multilingual turkey with recycled cardboard rolls
A few years ago, when my daughter was 4 years old, she made turkeys out of cardboard toilet paper rolls with her 7-year-old friend! Please see this read instructions in this post about the cardboard roll turkeys.
Leaf turkey + word matching
After collecting 树叶 / 樹葉 (shùyè / leaves) from the park, we brainstormed this turkey craft! Since we have been coming up with fun ways to memorize Chinese characters together, we set aside a few leaves for Chinese reading practice!
What you need
- Variety of leaves – ask your child to help you find a large brown leaf for the turkey’s body and other colors for the feathers!
- Sharpie marker
- Sticks or wood chips
How to set it up
- Draw outline of turkey’s body; cut body
- Draw turkey’s eyes, nose, and snood
- Write 火 on turkey’s body and 火 on several leaves
- Write 鸡 on another turkey’s body and 鸡 on several leaves
- Match the leaves to the turkey body with the corresponding Chinese character!
- Add sticks for legs
Free free to save the Thanksgiving collage below on Pinterest!
Have you tried any of these Thanksgiving turkey and gratitude activities?
If you try these Thanksgiving activities, please let us know in the comments below!
We’d love to hear about your learning experience and which activities you felt were most helpful! Please also share what language(s) your child(ren) are learning!
More Chinese Autumn Activities for Children
- 9 Easy Chinese Pumpkin Activities!
- 10 Fun and Free Chinese Teaching Activities with Leaves! (Free Printable)
- 16 Tree and Autumn Books for Kids in Chinese and English
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