Editor's note: This post was originally published on November 15, 2015.
In November, we think a lot about the things we are thankful for. We post what we are thankful for on social media. We spend weeks preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. But what are we doing to foster thankfulness in our children?
As a parent, I want to raise children who have adopted an attitude of gratitude. I want thankfulness to become part of their character, rather than just something we think about once a year in November.
In order to foster a thankful spirit, I came up with a list of four easy activities that get kids thinking about the things they are thankful for.
1. Thank-You Notes
Bring back the tradition of having your child write thank-you notes for gifts received. Older children can write their own notes, while younger children can dictate their note to an adult. Not only will the handwritten note brighten the giver’s day, it also reminds your child to stop and be grateful for the things they’ve received.
2. Thankful Turkey
Pull out the construction paper and help your child create a paper turkey. Cut out a shape for the body, a round head, a beak, and a red wattle. Next, cut out paper feathers. Each day, have your child write down one thing she is thankful for on a paper feather, and tape it to the turkey. By the end of the month, your turkey’s tail will be full of your child’s thankful thoughts, and will become a cherished keepsake for years to come.
3. Thankful Tree
Gather a handful of long twigs and sticks from your yard. Put them inside a mason jar. You can dress your jar up with a bow or piece of twine, or simply leave as is. Each day, have your kids write down something they are thankful for on a paper leaf. Tape or pin the leaves to your sticks, creating a “thankful tree.” Not only will your kids get an extra dose of writing, you’ll have an adorable centerpiece and fall decoration for your home.
4. Gratitude Journal
During a very painful time in my life, a gratitude journal changed everything for me. Will it be as earth-shattering for your child? Probably not. However, helping our kids shift their thinking towards the things they have instead of the things they don’t can have a life-long effect.
A simple lined notebook is all you need to create a gratitude journal for your child. Encourage your child to jot down several things each day (or each week depending on age of child) that she is thankful for. Then, when your child is having a rough day, encourage her to read back through their list.
Have another idea? Join the conversation on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page. Have a happy Thanksgiving!