Gratitude, like empathy and kindness, is an important trait that must be taught to children over time. There are many studies that have been done that show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness, improve self-esteem and reduces greed and materialism. One of the best ways for children to learn the important practice of gratitude, is to model it for them. Regularly sharing what you are grateful for, helps them to understand the meaning of gratitude.
November is the perfect time to start to put a family gratitude practice in place, as the month centers around the idea of gratitude. Below you will find ideas that you can try as a family this month. Many of these gratitude practices can be continued throughout the whole year.
Thankful Turkeys–Thankful turkeys have been around for a long time but we put a fun spin on ours that got all of our friends and family (far and near) involved. My kids and I created our “naked” turkeys and glued them on poster board. We then sent out blank feathers to all our friends and family and asked them to write their name and what they were grateful for.
The kids LOVED getting mail all November long and glueing the feathers onto the poster board. If you wanted to save on postage, you could have your children call or email a new person each day and ask them what they were thankful for and write that on the feather. It is a great way to connect with those you love and encourage them to stop and think about what they are grateful for too.
Gratitude Tree–We have been doing this activity for a few years and it has become a very important November tradition. We gather tree branches from outside the day on November 1st and place them in a vase. We then make paper leaves of different colors and attach a loop of string to each. Every night, one person gets to write one thing they are thankful for and hang it on the tree. When my kids were little we had photos of all of us next to the tree and put them order so that the kids would know who’s turn was next. By the end of the month we have a colorful reminder of the many gifts and blessings we have. I love to see our tree collect leaves all November long as the trees outside lose theirs!
Gratitude Sticky Notes--We do this in the winter and spring but you could easily do it for Thanksgiving. Grab some fun sticky notes (they have many shapes and colors now) and each night have everyone at the table write one thing they are thankful for. You can invite guests to your house to do the same when they come over. We stick our notes all over the dining room window and it is fun to see the windows get COVERED in blessings and thanksgivings.
Turkey on the Table--Have you seen Turkey on the Table yet? This sweet bird gathers grateful feathers all November long and then sits on your Thanksgiving table, proudly displaying all of the gratitude from the month. For each Turkey on the Table purchased, they donate 10 meals to Feeding America. We love our turkey so much that he stays out year round! I have bought turkeys for my nieces and nephews as well.
This is not an advertisement for Turkey on the Table, all turkeys were purchased with our own money.
Thankful Jar–For a few years we kept a Thankful Jar during the month of November. There are LOTS of examples of Thankful Jars on the internet and but I found this cute free printable from Mama Miss. Family members take turns writing down what they are thankful for and the papers go into the jar. We use to save the papers in the jar all year and read them aloud on November 1st of the next year. It was fun for the kids to see the things they had been thankful for the previous November.
Gratitude Journals–When my children were small we kept a Family Gratitude Journal. Each day we would record the things we were grateful for in the family journal. Now that my children are older, we each have our own gratitude journals to mark the things we are blessed with. There are so many different types of gratitude journals for kids, some with pictures and prompts. Now that my kids are older they keep track of their gratitude in a 5 year journal. This journal has lines for 5 different years on each page and that way they can go back and see what they were grateful for in years past.
Goodnight Blessings–As you put your children to bed each night, ask them to share with you three things they are grateful for. You can then share three things that you are grateful for as well. Thinking about their blessings will be a wonderful way for them to drift off to sleep each night.