It is good to give thanks to the Lordto sing praises to the Most High.

Psalm 92:1


Use this hands-on devotional on thankfulness for the whole family. If you’re in a church small group with other families, use it for a friendly head-to-head competition.


Muscle Mania

Time for a Thanksgiving workout, especially before all those mashed potatoes, pecan pie and turkey come into view. This Thanksgiving workout, though, has as much to do with encouraging gratefulness as it does being physically fit.

First, have everyone in the family rotate between a few different exercises and see how many…


jumping jacks,

kneed bends,


they can do or weights they can lift.

Award a Thanksgiving workout prize to the individual with the highest number in any one exercise category. (Making this a game or competition will score you serious parent points with your kids). Or, if you’re matched up against other families, award the family with greatest total number of exercises.

Be creative with your prizes: a fistful of dum-dums, no chores for the week, being called “Prince or Princess” for a day, a Chik-fil-A gift certificate.


The thank-you muscle lesson

(parent instructions are in [brackets])

Next say…

God designed different muscles in your body.

When you swung your arms doing jumping jacks, you used the deltoid muscles. [Have them shrug their shoulders.]

When you sat on the ground to do sit-ups, you used your gluteus maximus [Pat your behind.] and your abs [swat your stomach muscles]

When you did push-ups, you exercised your biceps. [Flex your arms.]

During the knee bends, your quadriceps got a work out. [Rub your upper thighs.]


But you also have another muscle in your body called the thank-you muscle.

When someone hands you the mashed potatoes at the dinner table and you say “thank you”, you’re using the thank-you muscle.

When you tell your hockey coach, “Thanks for letting me play left wing,” you’re using the thank-you muscle.

Can you think of any other examples?

When you first use a muscle, it aches and complains. “I’m too tired. Do I have to exercise?” Or, “I’m sore. How come I have to do this?” If you ignore the aching and keep exercising, soon the aching disappears and the muscle becomes tough, strong, fit.

In the same way, you might not always feel like being thankful. Especially when…

…you have to do something you don’t like (walk the dog)

…you get something you didn’t want (a fever)

…you didn’t get something you really did want (the Star Wars action figure you saw at Target).


BUT you can still be thankful. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18). So ignore the temptation to complain, keep exercising that thank-you muscle and it will grow tough, strong, fit.


Practice makes perfect

For PreK through early elementary kids – pair up the devotional above with this hands-on way to encourage thanks.

  • Print a copy of this barbell pdf 
  • Cut out the barbell and the weights
  • Add a magnet (or tape) to the back of the barbell.
  • Tell your child that every time you catch him or her being thankful, they can write down what they were thankful for on one of the weights and attach it to the barbell.
  • Goal is to have the barbell filled with all weights by the end of the week.

For older elementary kids – Turning the above into a competition will go a long way to driving home the point of being thankful. If complaining becomes an issue later on, a friendly “time to give me five reps” will help to make the point.  


Congratulations! You’ve just started your Thanksgiving workout.

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