Five Kernels of Corn

“IT IS GOOD to GIVE THANKS to the LORD” Psalm 02:1. 

Need: blackboard/poster board, basket of food, ear of corn, frozen corn or candy corn.

A) GIVING THANKS (Object Lesson for Grades K-4) Write on blackboard or large poster board: Complain vs. Give Thanks


1. What do you think people do the most: complain or give thanks?
2. What about YOU? Is it easier to fuss and complain about your food, your brother or sister or teacher, etc., than to thank God for them? What do you do the most?
3. How many of you have said THANK YOU to someone today? . . .in the past day? . . . in the past week? . . . the past month??
4. Do you thank God each day? Do you complain about what you DON’T have more than THANK God for what you DO have (clothes, house, family, how you look, etc.)


(Show basket of food + corn, shorten story for younger students.)

Do you think the first pilgrims who came to this country were complainers? No, they wanted to be free to worship God. They worked hard to start a new life in this land. The harvest of 1621 was abundant. Governor Bradford declared a Day of Thanksgiving and invited the local Indian chief. It was a shock when he arrived with ninety other Indians! They celebrated this first harvest in 1621 with three days of feasting, games, and prayers. But the food supply was greatly depleted later by thirty-five colonists who arrived by ship with no food or extra clothing. Many people died that winter from sickness and lack of food. By the following spring, the Pilgrims were starving. The harvest in this second year was a failure. By the spring of 1623, daily rations were reduced to 5 kernels of corn a day! Twelve weeks of drought dried up their crops that spring and summer. One day the desperate Pilgrims fasted and prayed for eight hours straight. The next morning, God answered their prayers with a gentle rain that continued for fourteen days and saved the crops. At a Thanksgiving celebration that fall, the first course was different: An empty plate with 5 kernels of corn was placed before each person. The pilgrims stood up one by one and shared five things for which they were thankful.

This legend–story of the five kernels of corn is a special tradition you can do with your family as you remember the suffering and the spirit of Thanksgiving of our Pilgrim ancestors.

* When I give a kernel of corn to each of you, please share one thing for which you are thankful. (Children can also write or draw in the Thanksgiving Basket activity page.)

* Say Bible verse together: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord” Psalm 92:1.

(Optional: hand out 5 kernels of corn or CANDY CORN to each child at the end.)

Get the coordinating skit, The First Thanksgiving

Copyright 2009 Helen and David Haidle -

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