Living a life of thankfulness extends far beyond that one day of the year when our families are gathered around a turkey.

Being grateful should be practiced in the thoughts and attitudes of our daily lives.

Whether we can see God’s goodness all around us or we are in a season of trusting him in the unknown, God is always with us.

Use this lesson to teach preteens that we can be thankful even when we don’t know everything God is doing.

-Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry


Written by: Rob Quinn


Bible: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Proverbs 3:5-6

Bottom Line: We can be thankful even when we don’t know everything God is doing.


  • 2 blenders
  • Supplies to make milkshakes
    • Really good milkshake supplies: Ice cream, chocolate syrup, milk, etc
    • Gross milkshake supplies: Turkey, Potatoes, Hotdogs, milk, salsa, etc.



Prepare three different shakes before your meeting – two good ones and one gross one.

Place the ingredients or packages with the milkshakes to show what is in each of them.

Hide one of the good milkshakes where no one can see it.


Divide preteens into two groups – boys and girls.

The groups will decide on one person to be their representative up front.

Once the representatives come forward, tell them they will have to rely on their team to help them win a milkshake to drink.

Show the students the shakes they will be playing to win.

Teams will now compete to win points “Family Feud” style.

The team with the best score wins the choice of which shake would be the worst for someone to drink.

Be very careful not to say which team they are choosing for, just have them make a choice… there’s a catch later.

Here are 10 questions about Thanksgiving:

  1. What year was the celebration that is most commonly considered to be the first Thanksgiving?
    • ANSWER: 1621 (Answer can be within 4 years)
  2. How many days did the first Thanksgiving celebration last?
    • ANSWER: 3 days (Answer can be within one day)
  3. Under which president did Thanksgiving become an annual holiday?
    • ANSWER: Abraham Lincoln (Give students two guesses)
  4. In what decade did both the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and America’s Thanksgiving Parade start?
    • ANSWER: 1920’s (Answer can be within 5 years)
  5. What are turkey chicks called?
    • ANSWER: Turkeylings
  6. What is the wobbly red piece of flesh on top of the beak of a turkey?
    • ANSWER: Snood
  7. What state raises the most turkeys?
    • ANSWER: Minnesota (Give students two guesses)
  8. In what century were the first pumpkin pies as we know them made?
    • ANSWER: 17th century
  9. What food was present at the first Thanksgiving but is rarely eaten at Thanksgiving now
    • ANSWER: Seafood
  10. BONUS QUESTION (worth 5 points) – Thanksgiving in the USA is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, but when is Canada’s Thanksgiving?
    • ANSWER: Second Monday in October

Congratulate the winning team and present them their choice of milkshakes.

Once they choose the worst milkshake to drink,  bring forward the two chosen representatives.

Ask the winning team’s representative: How thankful are you that your team got the most points?

Ask the losing team’s representative: Do you still have faith in your team?

Once the choice is made get ready to present the shakes to the representatives to drink.

Say: Okay, so the winning team got the choice of which milkshake, but we never said which team they were choosing the milkshake for.

Remind them they were only choosing the shake they thought would be worst to drink.

Hand the gross shake over to the winning team’s rep and the good shake to the losing team’s rep.

Ask: Are you still thankful your team won now?

Get ready to drink it… Ready… Set… WAIT. WAIT. WAIT.

Did you really think we were going to make you drink this gross shake?

No, we would never do that.

So, here is another good shake and we would like to give this one to you.

Allow them to take the shakes and drink them as you get started.


Say: How awesome was that?

I mean you guys really thought someone was going to drink a really gross milkshake.

However, I bet the person that thought they had to drink it wasn’t so happy?

And they were super thankful once they found out they didn’t have to!

I’ll be honest… I didn’t want to watch them drink that gross milkshake!

This actually leads us to what we are going to be talking about today.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I want to take a quick survey.

How many of you go around the table and say something you’re thankful for before you eat your Thanksgiving meal?

I know this a tradition for many families, but it has always made me wonder: Why do we only do that on Thanksgiving?

Let’s read 1Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Always be joyful.

Never stop praying.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Say: So, if we only give thanks during the Thanksgiving season, is there more we should be doing?

According to this verse, we should be thankful in all circumstances – even when things aren’t going well.

Think about this for a minute… we should be thankful when we are sick, hurt, sad, or don’t get what we want.

This is a really hard thing, even for us as adults.

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going good, right?

But when things aren’t going right it can be super hard!

What I really love is what this verse says right after telling us to be thankful in all circumstances… “for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

The cool thing we need to know is God has a plan for us and sometimes it’s not exactly what we think the plan should be.

We also may not understand what His plan is and it may be something that hurts us or makes us sad.

But, we can be thankful because God’s plans are and will always be perfect for us.

Let’s read another verse that may serve as a good guide for us.

Read Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

This is telling us that when we trust God with all of our heart, we should try to understand His plans for us.

When we do this it makes it so much easier to be thankful in all circumstances.

Let me tell you a story about a time in my life when I didn’t know what God was doing in my life, but I chose to be thankful.

Tell a personal story about a time when you had difficulty being thankful for what God was doing in your life.

Every person on the planet has to deal with times we don’t understand what is happening to us.

But the way we respond will make the difference in how we work through it.

This leads us to our bottom line today: “We can be thankful even when we don’t know everything God is doing.”

You see… we don’t always see what God is doing and we aren’t supposed to know everything.

So, knowing that should make it easier to be thankful in all circumstances.

Maybe it isn’t easy for you to have faith in the “unknown” times, but God can help you.

As we close in prayer, let’s ask God to help us believe that He knows what is best for our lives, even when we can’t see it with our own eyes.


  1. What do you think the gross milkshake would have tasted like?
  2. Would you have wanted to be the one who had to drink it?
  3. What would you have thought if you were the one who it was changed to?
  4. How does it make you feel that we should always be thankful?
  5. What are some things in your life that make it hard to be always thankful?
  6. How do you respond to those difficult times?
  7. Why do you think we have a hard time always being thankful in every situation?
  8. What do you have to do to start living this way?
  9. How does knowing God always has a plan make change your thinking?
  10. What is one thing you can think of that is hard in your life that you can be thankful for?


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About Rob Quinn, the Writer of this Lesson

Rob has nearly 10 years of experience in preteen ministry. He is married to an amazing woman Jodi, who just so happens to be the Children’s Ministry Director at his church. They have one beautiful daughter Sydni, and an 8-pound attack dog named Lilly.