Practicing gratitude important because it helps us slow down, take a mindful pause and be able to sink into the beauty of the present moment. When we begin to be able to really notice the the value of what and who is with us and around us, we are more tuned in and more connected. Feeling and expressing gratitude enhances our skills for communication and encourages us to name out loud what we might otherwise keep to ourselves.
Most parents want to help their children grow up learning how to practice an attitude of
gratitude, and what better time than November, the month for Thanksgiving? Fortunately, there are many fun activities to help children practice being thankful that I’d like to share with you today to inspire you. Plus, these are activities that will enrich your child’s creative and expressive play and support the connection you have with your child.
5 Fun Activities to Help Children Practice Being Thankful
- Share storytime with books that focus on feelings and practice of gratitude. Cuddling up under a warm blanket together on a snowy afternoon with a few books can be a nurturing and bonding way to learn about the concept of what it means to be thankful. Try books like The Blessings Jar by Colleen Coble, The Things I’m Grateful For by Arnie Lightning or The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings by Stan Berenstain.
- Create a gratitude jar. This activity takes you step by step through the process of creating a way to count all the things your child feels thankful for with a tangible collection jar your child can uniquely decorate. It will go perfectly with the book mentioned above called The Blessings Jar!
- Make decorative thank you note cards. All you need for this activity is some card stock, scissors, envelopes, colorful markers, and maybe some eco-friendly glitter and glue. Explain to your child that thank you notes are ways to express gratitude to others when they do something nice for us or give us a gift. Emphasize how important it is to express our thanks at these times. Safely supervise or guide your child in cutting out cards and folding them to fit into the envelopes. Encourage them to decorate the cards with the craft supplies you’ve gathered and write the word THANK YOU in the middle of the front of the card. These will be ready and available for writing a personalized note on the inside over the holidays or anytime they want to express their thanks.
- Play the Random Acts of Kindness BINGO game! Use this printable to create a game where you and your child can find all kinds of ways to do random acts of kindness for others during the month of November!
- The Family Thanksgiving Tree. Get a big piece of butcher paper and draw a bare branch tree the size of your child. Hang it in the kitchen or the main hallway where the whole family will see it every day. Cut out about 50 colorful leaves from these templates on colorful paper. Introduce the bare tree in early November as the Family Thanksgiving Tree and tell your child the goal will be to fill the bare tree with leaves on which family members will write down things, experiences, places and people each person feels grateful for as the month progresses and tape them or glue them onto the tree branches. This ongoing project will allow your child and the whole family to look for those things for which you feel thankful, demonstrating a regular practice that will carry over beyond November.
A regular, ingrained practice of noticing, feeling and expressing gratitude helps children to feel genuinely positive about life. When hard times happen, looking for what we feel thankful for can bring relief to heavy emotions and motivate us to keep going when discouraged. Playful activities in which children and parents can engage in together are the most helpful way to introduce concepts and reinforce healthy social and emotional habits.
If you feel like you might benefit from parenting support, I offer parenting consultation and also play therapy services for children who are struggling. Contact me so we can discuss how I might support you and your child.