Thanksgiving Day was first celebrated in the American Plymouth colony in 1621, when Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. Before that, a Native American named Squanto taught the pilgrims how to plant corn and how to survive in the new land. When the harvest came, it was celebrated by all the colonists and neighboring Native Americans who had helped them. Gradually it became a common annual custom to celebrate thanksgiving after the harvest. While turkeys were known to the colonists and Indians, we don’t have any proof they were served at the first thanksgiving. But they were added later as part of the celebration that continues until today. Long before that, the Isrealites has a similar feast day to Thank God for what he had done for them. It was called the Feast of Tabernacles and can be found in Leviticus 23:33-44; Numbers 29:12-39; Deuteronomy 16:13. The games in this lesson use feathers, not only because they are associated with Thanksgiving, but also because there are places in the Bible where God is compared to a protective bird who covers us with his wings.
What You Need
Lots of feathers – Most of these games work best with feathers that are light and fluffy and not the heavy quill-like feathers. You can buy them at any craft store or pluck them from a cheap feather boa.
Games using Feathers
- Falling Turkey Feathers– The youth on one or more teams must all hold hands in a circle. Throw a feather up into the air inside each circle and then each team must keep the feather from touching the ground only by blowing it upward. They are not allowed to release their their hands to keep the feather up. Have a competition to see which group can keep the feather in the air the longest, or which group in the matter of three minutes drops the feather the least, etc.
- Feather Blow Floor Race– Tape two lines on the floor at opposite ends of the room as goal lines. Teams blow the feather along the floor to the opposite goal and back. First team to complete the relay wins. Team members should cheer their teams on with the loudest gobble-gobble sounds as possible.
- Feathers– Play the regular game of Spoons, but substitute feathers for the spoons. In the middle of the table, place one less feather than the number of players you have. Shuffle a standard 52-card deck and deal 4 cards to each person. Have everyone take one of their cards and discard it to their left simultaneously. The person to the right of the dealer, however, should put one of their cards down on the table to start the discard pile, while the dealer picks up a new card. Repeat this process of everyone passing to the left. Each round the dealer should pick up a new card and the person to their right should add to the discard pile, so as to have a continuous influx of new cards. The first person to have 4 of a kind (e.g. all 4 aces or all 4 nines) has to pick up a feather. Following this, all other players need to do the same, with the slowest person left without a feather and out of the game.
- Fluffy Turkey Feathers Matre d– Youth must carry feathers on a plate or plastic spoon to a target and back. The players must pick up any feathers that drop. First team team to have every member complete the relay wins. You can also designate a body part the feather must rest on such as the back of a hand, on the shoulder, on an elbow, etc.
- Highest Feather Blow– Award a prize for the person who can blow a feather up to the greatest height.
- Pin the feather on the Turkey – In this thanksgiving version of the classic kids game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, blindfolded kids try to pin the Tail Feather on the Turkey.
- Turkey Feather Circle Relay– Youth form a circle. The first person blows a feather to the next person who catches it in his or her cupped hands. Each person blows the feather to the next person. First team to have the feather travel around the circle wins. If the feather is dropped on the floor the team must start over.
- Turkey Feather Darts– Attach a small weight to the tip of some feathers. These can then be tossed like a dart at cups or targets. You can play with harder to hit targets which are worth more points or have a bullseye like in darts where the closest toss wins.
- Turkey Feather Float– Give a light fluffy feather to each youth. On “GO” each youth starts blowing to keep their feather in the air. The youth that keeps their feather in the air the longest is the winner.
- Turkey Feather Juggling– In this minute to Win It Game, keep your head up, eyes open, and a steady stream of air coming through your mouth as you attempt to keep two feathers in the air for a full sixty seconds while staying within set boundaries. Prior to the game create a circle in the middle of the floor that will be the playing area. Make the boundaries large enough to allow some moving room but small enough to keep things challenging.
- Turkey Feather Relay– Designate a start line and a finish line. At the start signal, the first person on each team tosses the turkey tail feather into the air and tries to blow it up into the air and across the finish line. Anytime a turkey tail feather touches the floor, the person must make loud gobble gobble sounds and take three large steps backward toward the start line. They can then toss the turkey tail feather up again and start moving forward. When a player makes it back to the team the next person starts and the person who just completed the dash, goes to the back of the line and sits down. Team members should cheer their teams on with the loudest gobble-gobble sounds as possible.
- Turkey Feather Soccer– Play a game where the youth must blow a feather into a cup, bucket or small box that is lying on its side. It is not as easy as it seems. This can also be a great minute to win it game.
- Turkey Feather Table Tennis– Youth split into two teams across from each other on opposite ends of a table. The objective is to blow the feather off the opponent’s end for a point.
- Turkey Feather Toss Race– First youth in each team is given a feather. On ‘GO’, he or she throws the feather towards the finish line. From where it lands, it is thrown again, repeating until it lands past the finish line. The participamt can then pick up the feather and run it back to the next person on the team. First team to complete the relay wins.
- Turkey Feather Volleyball– Tie a string across the room as a net. Each team tries to blow a feather over the string rather than hitting a ball. Rules are similar to volleyball, but they have to blow the feather. The feather can be blown as many times as necessary to get it over the net. You can also play with four teams and the room divided into quarters. Add more than one feather for more fun!
- Turkey Feathers and Gobblers– All the players sit in a circle. The leader stands on a chair and releases a light fluffy feather. As it flies through the air, everyone must make the gobbling sounds of a turkey. The moment it lands they must become completely quiet. Anyone who makes a noice after it lands is out. The objective is to be wild and crazy so that others can’t help but laugh and make noise.
- Turkey Feathers in the Wind– The youth kneel around the four sides of a sheet or blanket and then grab the edge. They must then pull the sheet taut and hold it just beneath their chins. Place a light fluffy feather on the middle of the sheet. Each side of the sheet is one team. The youth try to blow the feather away from their side. If a feather touches someone, get’s blown off the edge, or gets blown over the head of someone then that side gets a penalty point. The lowest points wins. You can also play this like musical chairs and the person the feather is closest to when the music stops is out.
- Turkey Tail-feathers– With a glue gun or piece of adhesive tape, attach feathers to both legs of each clothespin. Give every person two clothespins (Turkey Feathers) as they enter. When everyone has their turkey feathers, tell them you’re giving them two minutes to get rid of their feathers. The only way for participants to get rid of the feathers is onto pin them to someone else. Award a prize to the person with the least number of feathers. The person with the MOST feathers is the official TURKEY! Icebreaker idea: After playing the game, each person must state one Fun Fact about themselves for each feather they are wearing. If they have no feathers they only have to say ONE thing about themselves.
TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
MAKE IT SPIRITUAL
- The first Thanksgiving was a time to remember and thank God for what he had done. What do you think people do the most: complain or give thanks?
MAKE IT PRACTICAL
- What are some of the things we should be thankful to God for?
- Looking at some of the scripture verses, what does the Bible teach us about Giving thanks? (Share some of the scriptures included in the lesson plan)
- What are some ways we can say, “Thank you” to God?
- How many of us have said THANK YOU to someone today?… in the past day?… in the past week?… the past month? Why should we be thankful to other people?
MAKE IT PERSONAL
- What do you do the most: complain or give thanks?
- What are some things that you are thankful for?
- Name 5 things that God has done for you that make you thankful?
- What are some things you can do to show your thankfulness to God this week?
- In advance, make a large turkey body with no tail feathers. Give each youth a piece of paper cut in the shape of a turkey feather. Ask the youth to write at least 5 things they are thankful to God for on the tail-feather and attach it to the turkey.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Timothy 4:4 – “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,”
- Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
- Ephesians 5:20 – “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Matthew 23:37 – “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
- Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
- Psalm 100:4-5 – “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
- Psalm 105:1 – “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known His deeds among the people.”
- Psalm 107:8 – “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.”
- Psalm 118:1 – “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
- Psalm 118:21 – “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.”
- Psalm 136:1 – “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
- Psalm 17:8 – “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”
- Psalm 28:7 – “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
- Psalm 36:7 – “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
- Psalm 91:4 – “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
- Psalm 95:2 – “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
- Ruth 2:12 – “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”