Thanksgiving | Giving Thanks in Spanish

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If you want ways to bring Spanish into your holidays, these special activities will get you and your kids working together. Make giving thanks in Spanish a year round tradition.

Thanksgiving is a day full of opportunities to use Spanish at home. This holiday is all about connecting with our family and friends, sharing a delicious meal, and giving thanks. Although it’s an American holiday, in Spanish, it’s called “el día de acción de gracias”. Literally, this means the day of giving thanks. And we have a lot to be thankful for each year.

There are many different ways to include Spanish in the holiday. It just makes sense to add Spanish into the things you’re already doing like – cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, setting the table, washing dishes, praying, watching movies, playing, going out, holiday activities, singing, listening to music, talking. And the kids can be a part of all these things. Adding some Spanish into these tasks requires minimal extra time and effort. And for many, it’s a welcome added topic for conversations.

Not only that, but it’s a great opportunity to start a dialogue of thankfulness in Spanish. Nobody likes to hear complaining. But thankful words are pleasant for everyone. Parents can model how to give thanks in Spanish too. And this can continue to be a source of many conversations in Spanish throughout the year.

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Ways to add Spanish into your Thanksgiving celebration with your kids

  • Cook food with your kids
  • Have kids help with cleaning
  • Do a Thanksgiving craft
  • Read Bible verses about thankfulness in English and Spanish
  • Play games in Spanish
  • Watch movies in Spanish or with subtitles
  • Go for a walk and describe what you see in Spanish
  • Make a list and drawing of what you give thanks for
  • Set the table using Spanish vocabulary – dinnerware, prepositions, etiquette
  • Pray in both languages

I love adding Spanish to the regular things we do. They learn life skills and second language skills at the same time. Each type of activity opens up a whole different vocabulary. A real life functioning language ability grows. The kids learn new words for action and description (verbs) and things (nouns) related to the activities. And listening and speaking skills grow with the interaction between parents and children. 

Modeling Gratitude in Spanish 

It’s also a great time to get your kids into a daily habit of having a grateful attitude. Show them how to give thanks in Spanish. Whenever their complaints are inappropriate, you can remind them to give thanks in Spanish. That opens up many more opportunities to use Spanish with your kids. This is something that can be done throughout the entire year.

Basically, over time you’ll collect many words for the people and things all of you are thankful for. An online Spanish dictionary like DeepL is helpful for finding new words. Think of several things to enter in search and write down the Spanish word. These are the words you’ll add to the end of the sentence.

A script to model gratitude with the children in Spanish:

Following this basic dialogue shows exactly how to express gratitude in the second language without translation. Less translation and more real examples creates better mental images of concepts of objects and action. The Spanish words you’ll say are in bold italics. I do give a translation for quick reference and simplicity, but it’s best to not translate. A better way to explain meaning is through pictures and gestures. 

The first part focuses on listening skills and new vocabulary of all kinds. Focusing on one or two keywords may be best. Hand gestures work great for this. For example, “dar las gracias” you might want to put your hands together prayer style and bow your head, for a gesture of giving thanks. You get to be creative. I’ve pointed to todays date on the calendar or pointed both my hands to the place I’m standing for the word “hoy” for today. It’s up to you what you want meaning you want to focus on. 

Say the bold italicized words in Spanish. Use the English for your reference only. 

Hoy es el día de acción de gracias.

Today is Thanksgiving Day. 

Vamos a dar las gracias por todas las cosas 

We are going to give thanks for everything. 

Mother’s say

Estoy agradecida por… 

​I’m thankful for…​​​

Father’s say

Estoy agradecido por… 

I’m thankful for…

This is when you add on what you are giving thanks for.  If possible show the item or a picture, so they can understand without a translation. This creates a visual picture tied to the spoken word.

Write and draw your gratitude on this activity sheet

I made this activity sheet, so we could write down all the things we are thankful for this year. I plan on adding to more words and pictures throughout the year. Download and print the activity sheet to use with your kids. This will add a written and visual context for more exposure to the language.

Write what people and things each of you are thankful for in each olive circle. The important thing is to start using Spanish. And discovering new words that are important parts of your daily life.

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Continue the Conversation in Spanish

Ask your son,

¿De qué estás agradecido?

Ask your daughter,

¿De qué estás agradecida?

Both questions mean the same thing – What are you thankful for? The difference is the gender of who you are asking the question. Gender is a grammar concept that is very important in Spanish. So, this is a little introduction to the concept. No need for explanation though. It’s just a part of building listening skills.

Boys are masculine gender and girls are the feminine gender. Their answer should also reflect their gender too. And this is a repeat of your first model of giving thanks. 

Girls say

Estoy agradecida por… 

Boys say

Estoy agradecido por…

Again, they will add on the new Spanish word for what they are thankful for just like you modeled earlier. This time you can help them search on the DeepL online translator. They just may have one of those aha moments when they understand there is a whole different set of words for real things. And they also can learn how to use the tools for language learning. That’s one of the mind expanding benefits of learning a second language. 

Nobody likes hearing complaints. They are very unpleasant. So whenever the timing is right, remember to continue this dialogue of thankfulness in Spanish. Each time will be a language learning opportunity that will refresh good character. Spanish can become a part of daily conversation with this simple holiday activity. 

Raising kids bilingually is no easy task. From the start it becomes clear that there is more to it than it seems. Grow Spanish Academy helps parents to integrate Spanish into your daily life. I show how to go through the phases of learning and build practical skills the whole way. Join the waitlist to be the first to know when enrollment opens.

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