With all of the lights, presents, and festivities of holidays like Christmas, it is easy for other holidays like Thanksgiving to be overshadowed. However, Thanksgiving can be just as meaningful if we make a point to show gratitude and appreciate what we have.
Now that my kids are old enough to understand this to some extent, it makes it a great time to teach them gratitude and to be thankful.
Gratitude can be a hard idea for kids to grasp, but because I want to make a point to teach my kids gratitude, I have come up with a list of easy and fun ways to model and teach gratitude this season!
- First on the list is a Thanksgiving Gratitude Board. This will require slight preparations of informing your Thanksgiving crowd to each bring a printed picture of something they are thankful they did over the past year. Then, once everyone has their pictures, have the kids glue or tape them on a poster board while the adults cook! Everyone can share and talk about what they were doing in their picture and why they are thankful for it. There are many variations you could do when making the collage, but just imagine the fun memories and stories that could come out of this!
- I love this next one because not only does it involve teaching gratitude, but it teaches gratitude for specific things. Instead of asking your kids the basic, “What are you thankful for?” have them list certain things with Thankful Skittles! This is a fun (and tasty) way to teach them to be thankful for specific things. Each color Skittle represents a category. For example, for each purple Skittle, you name a person you are thankful for, or for every red Skittle, you say an event you were thankful for doing this year, and so on. This is a great way to use those fun-size bags of Skittles from Halloween, too!
- I am definitely going to try this next idea and, hopefully, it will become a tradition, because I love the idea of a Gratitude Pumpkin! Grab a pie pumpkin and a Sharpie and simply have everyone write one thing they are thankful for during each day in November on the pumpkin. Then on Thanksgiving, you will have a pumpkin showcasing what everyone is thankful for! This idea is so easy, and as an added bonus, at the end, you will have a meaningful Thanksgiving centerpiece for your table.
- If you don’t like the idea of a gratitude pumpkin, try a Gratitude Chain! Make a paper chain listing everything your family is thankful for instead! The concept is the same as the pumpkin, for each day of November, add a new link to the chain that names things your family is thankful for that day. This activity takes a little more prep to assemble the chain parts out of paper and add to the chain every day. But if you use fall colors for the paper, you will have a pretty fall chain showing your family’s gratitude that you can hang up as a Thanksgiving decoration!
- Finally, we finish out the list with Gratitude Dice! This is a great idea for the kids who love hands-on learning because it is interactive! For us parents, it also involves little prep work. Just print and fold the gratitude dice and have each member of the family roll it once during dinner every night in November and respond to the prompts. This is a great way to stir up conversations about being thankful!
Since being thankful is an abstract concept that can be hard for kids to wrap their minds around, teaching gratitude in these simple and hands-on ways can bring them one step closer to understanding gratitude. My hope is that the concept of gratitude will stay with them into adulthood because even as adults, it is hard to be thankful sometimes. But, by modeling gratitude in our life and teaching it early, we can set our children up to make showing gratitude and being thankful a habit for life!