Youth Group Game & Lesson on Being Thankful

Topic – Being Thankful


Bible: 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Romans 8:28

It can be very humbling to have someone help you. Most of the time we don’t know we need help, or we don’t want to admit it.

I had back surgery a few years ago. It was very humbling when our church families helped paint my deck, made meals for our family, and planted a garden for us.

This was a moment in my life when I realized we needed to be thankful to have others help us in our time of need.

Preteens have people in their lives who help them. They have parents, teachers, coaches, church leaders, etc. who do a lot for them. It’s easy for them to take these people for granted. It’s also easy for them to even resist the efforts of those that want to help them.

Use this free game and lesson to help preteens be thankful for those people.

It’s the perfect resource to use around Thanksgiving time!



Empty pop cans with the tab still attached, one for every two preteens

Pieces of yarn 20-30 feet long, one for every two preteens

HELP CARDS to choose from (see below): Print out and put on note cards

4 different 2-liter bottles of pop/soda

Bag of candy for prizes for the entire group


Divide your preteens into pairs and have them sit in a circle across from each other.

Give each team a piece of string, and each member will hold onto one end of the string.

(Yes, strings will be crossing over each other.)

Give each team a pop/soda can.

Before giving it to them, gently bend the tab up without breaking it.

Inform the preteens if they break off the tab they are out of the game.

On ‘go’ the teams will pull the string through the pop tab and begin to slide the pop can back and forth to each other.

They get a point for each time they successfully slide the pop can back and forth to each other.

When a team feels they need help, they can ask for a help card.

Each team gets one help card only.

When a team decides to yell for a help card a leader will take the pre-made cards to one of them and let them choose one from the stack.

They will not be able to look at the cards before choosing.

The card will then be put back into the deck to be possibly used again.

The team or teams will immediately have to do what the card says.

Most cards are meant to help them, but there are a few cards that will hinder them and not help them.

This is the chance they take asking for help.

The team with the most points after a given amount of time wins the game.

Give the winning team their choice of a two-litter bottle of pop of their own to take home.



Index cards and pens

Say: Well, that was a tangled mess of pop cans and string, wasn’t it?

Everyone did amazingly well, and I want to congratulate all the teams.

Here is a small prize for everyone to enjoy.

As I was watching you all play the game, the look on your faces when you took a help card was pretty awesome.

Some of you looked so thankful for a card that helped you.

Some of you were not so lucky and, by the look on your face, you were not very thankful for the card.

This is what we are going to be talking about today – being thankful for those people in your lives who help you.

People like your parents, coaches, teachers, friends, church leaders, etc.


How hard was this game?

Did you think you would need help when you started?

How thankful were you when you got your card?

If your card was not helpful, how thankful were you?

How do your parents help you in life? How do your teachers help you? How do your coaches help you?

Who are other people in your life who help you?

Is it hard to be thankful when it seems like your help is no help at all?

How thankful are you when someone helps you?

Say: There are so many things in our lives that we need to be thankful for.

We often take for granted people in our lives who help us.

If we don’t stop to think about how they help us, we’ll take them for granted.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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

Say: When we look at this verse it says to be thankful in all circumstances.

ALL circumstances, not just some, but all.

The truth is that some people that SHOULD be helpful in our lives aren’t.

Sometimes your parents are out to get you.

Your math teacher might be really mean.

You might have a coach that yells a lot.

Even though those people are put in a position of authority to help you, it doesn’t always feel like they’re being helpful.

This verse reminds us to be thankful for these people even when it seems like they’re not being helpful.

What? That makes no sense!

The truth is that God may be allowing a mean coach or strict teacher in your life because he wants to teach you something. He might want you to learn perseverance, patience, or something else.

Here’s another verse that might help you out with this.

Read Romans 8:28:

“We know that God works out everything for the good of those who love Him. They are the people who are part of His plan.”


Talk about a time when a teacher, parent, coach, etc. was not helpful.

What could God have been trying to teach you in that situation?

Say: Now, let’s take a look at those people in our lives who are helpful.

The times that teachers, parents and coaches help us make good decisions or bring out the best in us.

Often, we take them for granted.

We don’t take time to reflect how thankful we are for them.

In fact, sometimes we resist their efforts to help us. 

For example, think about when you were younger when you resisted the idea of brushing your teeth.

You might have whined and complained about having to brush your teeth every morning and night.

But your parents made you because they knew what was best for you.

You’re now probably at the age where you’re grateful they made you brush your teeth.

Or maybe you didn’t like the idea of having to do 100 free throw shots at every basketball practice.

But when you saw an improvement in your shooting ability, you realized how smart your coach was.

The same goes for other things that our parents, teachers, family members, and coaches make us do. We might resist their efforts to help us, but they have our best interest in mind. They want what’s best for us.

In fact, take some time and do that right now.

I’m going to give you some index cards and pens.

On each index card, write down the name of someone in your life who is put there to help you.

Then, list all the ways they’ve helped you.

Give preteens a few minutes to complete the task.

Then, break up students in small groups and have them discuss what they wrote down on the index card.

Afterwards, encourage students to be grateful for those people in their lives.

Have a leader close the prayer.


Write each sentence below on an index card for the Opening Game.

Move your string to the top of all the other strings.

Move your string to the bottom of all the other strings.

Shorten your string by half.

Add five to your score.

Leave the circle and continue playing.

Every other team stops for 1 minute.

A leader assists your team for 1 minute by moving the can for you.

All teams switch strings.

Switch sides with your teammate.

Kneel for the rest of the game.


Liked this game and lesson? You’ll also like this FREE game and lesson on helping preteens grow their relationship with God.

Written by Rob Quinn & Nick Diliberto

Rob Quinn serves as the Preteen Ministry Coordinator at Community Bible Church in Brighton, MI. He has been involved with preteen ministry for almost 8 years now. Rob 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.

Nick Diliberto is the creator of and oversees the preteen ministry (4th-6th grade) and junior high ministry (7th-8th grade) at the Northshore Vineyard Church just outside of New Orleans, LA.

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2 Responses to “Youth Group Game & Lesson on Being Thankful

  • Diane Covington
    4 years ago

    I am not receiving the lesson in my email

    • Hi Diane. Thanks for taking the time to make us aware of the issue with the download. We have corrected the problem and it’s working now. Please try to download it again and don’t hesitate to ask if you need further assistance. You can reach us at Thank you!

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