Blog, Gratitude, Mindfulness

Wall of Gratitude

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For those of you who don’t know, one of my favorite parts of my work with Kids in Service is meeting with the children of my local Kids in Service group.  I have run this group for the past 4 year and the last two years we have had a word of the year that acts as our theme.   Last year the word of the year was Kindness and this year it is Gratitude.  To start off our meeting this month, I read Look and be Grateful by Tomie dePaola.  It is a very simple book but a nice quick read for younger children.

After the book, I had all of the kids look closely at the board.  It said, “Wall of Gratitude” and I had written each of their names on a star stickie note and placed it on the board.  This meeting had children ages 0-12 and the younger children each lit up when they found their name.  One little boy, wanted to hold onto his name (and the name of his baby sister), he was so excited.  I told them that I was grateful for each and every one of them and that is why their names were on the board.

I gave each family a stack of stickie notes and asked them to brainstorm some things that they were thankful for and place them up on the board.  This activity was so sweet to witness and I loved seeing the board grow and grow with gratitude.  This is such a simple project but makes such a great visual for younger children.

After finishing our projects for the day (we stuffed 144 Easter eggs for foster children and made 24 dignity bags for a women’s homeless shelter), I gathered the children back on the rug.  I had them close their eyes and think about one of the blessings that they put up on the board.  Each one of them shared with such pride and enthusiasm.  I gave each family a package of stickie notes, so that they could create their own wall of gratitude at home.  I encourage you and your family to do the same.

Maybe you place your stickies on a window, the slider, the basement door or on your bedroom doors.  If each person writes one thing they are grateful for each day for a month, think of all of the stickie notes that will have collected. If stickie notes are not your thing, share blessings at dinner or bedtime, start a family gratitude journal or give each child their own journal.  My children get these gratitude journals in their Easter basket each year.  They have space each day for words or pictures (or both) depending on the level of your child.

Daily gratitude is something that EVERYONE should practice as it helps us to be more  mindful.  Focusing on the things you are grateful for, makes it hard to focus on negative feelings.  Help your children to start this daily practice now, so that they will carry it into adulthood.  How do you and your family practice gratitude?

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Click HERE to learn more about Gratitude Stickies

The books in this post contain Amazon Affiliate Links.  If you click on one of the pictures of the books and choose to purchase a book through this site, 20% of all proceeds will be donated to the Kids in Service charity of the season.  This season the charity is Love Does.  You can learn more about Love Does HERE.

featured, Gratitude, Kindness, Quick Service Projects

10 Quick Projects You Can Start TODAY!

10 Quick Family Service Projects You can Start TODAY

All of us want to find time in our busy lives for service projects.  We know how important it is to teach our children the valuable lessons that go along with serving others (empathy, kindness, gratitude, courage, selflessness etc.) but unfortunately those well meaning service projects are the first thing cut off the to-do list when life gets too hectic.

Here are 10 QUICK service projects that you can do with your kids TODAY, with items you have around the house.  All of them can be completed in under an hour.  I hope that this list inspires to you start a service project TODAY and learn as a family the valuable lesson of serving others.

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  1. Project Dollar Store--This is a family favorite and a project we do at least once a year. A dollar may not seem like much but this simple project can make a big difference in someone’s life.  Click HERE to learn more about this SECRET MISSION OF LOVE!

72.  Project Appreciation--For this SWEET project you need to gather everyone in the kitchen and think of a community group that you would like to thank.  Click HERE for more details about this MISSION OF APPREICATION.

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3.  Make Placemats for Meals on Wheels–This is a project for all ages (well anyone who can hold a crayon or paint brush).  First, click on the Meals on Wheels website and contact your local Meals on Wheels. Ask them if you and your family could make placemats for their clients.  We have done this and it is an easy and fun service project.  Gather some thicker paper (we used card stock) and some art supplies.  My Kids Community Service club has done this a few times and all of the children (ages 2 and up) colored happy pictures to make the seniors smile while they ate their lunch.  I mailed in our placemats but Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to help deliver the lunches (and kids are welcome to participate).  If you homeschool, have younger kids or are looking for a summer project, contact your local Meals on Wheels about donating your time.

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4. Make a Kindness Jar--This is the Kindness Jar that sits near our dining table.  My children made it with our kids community service group last winter and it is always out as a constant reminder to think of others and BE KIND.  Click HERE to learn how you and your family can make your own Kindness Jar.  The post includes a FREE Printable of Kind Deeds to fill your jar with.

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5.  Collection for the Homeless–People who are homeless are always in need of gently used clothing (especially warm clothing in the cold winter months), new toiletries or toys that are in good shape.  Give everyone in your family a bag or a box and challenge them to fill it with as many quality items as they can.  Once you fill your bags or boxes drop them off at the local homeless shelter.  This service project is not only helping people in need but it is also challenging the family to declutter.  This is a win-win in my book!

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6.  Clean Up Your Neighborhood–Grab a few trash bags, some work gloves and head out in your neighborhood or to your local park.  It always SHOCKS me how careless people are with their trash.  My husband does a mini clean up of our street with the kids once a month because of all the trash that the passing cars leave behind.  This is an easy and important service project for your community.

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7.  Make a Christmas Jar–This project can be done at ANY TIME of year.  We started our third Christmas jar right after Christmas but our first jar was started only a month before the big day.  Click HERE to learn about this WONDERFUL family project.

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8.  Write Letters to Soldiers-This project is so easy to do and younger kids can team up with older kids or parents to make this a family project.  If you know someone in the military, consider making writing letters to them a regular activity.  If you do not know someone in the military, consider writing letters and sending them through A Million Thanks.  This site has drop off locations across the USA for letters and cards.  Here is what one solider had to say about this wonderful organization:

“I want to say thank you for what you are doing for all of us, and especially for the men and women overseas that take comfort in knowing people like you are thinking about them.”

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9.  Project Sticky Note–This is such a fun and simple project. All you need are some sticky notes and writing tools.  Write a lot of different uplifting messages on the sticky notes (“You are Special”, “You are Loved”, “You are Beautiful”, etc.).  Now comes the fun part, put the sticky notes in places where you think people may need an uplifting message.  We have hid them in library books, hung them on mirrors in public restrooms and put them on car windows on a dry day.  You can have the kids hang them on school lockers or even hand them out to people who look like they may need a pick me up. My husband often leaves us sticky notes if he is going away on business.  It always makes us smile to find the notes of love and encouragement.  The key to this project is to make sure that you do not litter and that you are always respectful.

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10.  Write a Thank You Note--Have you thanked your parent or care giver lately?  Have you thanked your teacher, your coach, bus driver or librarian for all they do for you? Did you recently receive a gift?  EVERYONE loves mail!  Bless one or more people in your life with a card or note thanking them for all they do to help and support you.  This is a project for all ages, as the littles can draw and adults can scribe the note of thanks and gratitude. Make writing thank you notes a regular practice in your home.  This simple activity will teach an important lesson in gratitude, respect and connection (not to mention it will help them practice their writing).

 

Blog, Gratitude, Kindness

Learning to Let Go

 

For the past 4 years I have run a local kids community service group.  These monthly meetings are a lot of work to prepare for but such a joy to run.  We visit a nursing home every other month and then on the opposite months participate in age appropriate service projects.  I am a former teacher and these monthly meetings with families fill me up and keep me invested in this important work that I am doing.  I love working with children and showing them that they can make a difference in this world no matter how old they are.

Despite the joy that these meetings bring, the day of the event always leaves me nervous and a little discouraged.  The day of our meetings, we always have families drop out last minute due to illness, school projects and other commitments.  I understand that unexpected events come up and people need to cancel (I have had to cancel commitments last minute in the past) but it is hard to watch the names on my list dwindle down each meeting day. It makes me question why I am working so hard and spending so much time preparing for these events?  How do I not disappoint the people we are trying to serve when families continue to cancel last minute?

One day at the nursing home, we only had 5 out of 15 children signed up attend (one was a baby).  That particular day we had more seniors come to the party than we had ever had before.  I struggled to make it seem like we had more children as I spread them out to three different tables.  When I was asked to hold the baby, I paraded him around the room so all of the residents could “ooh” and “ah” at him.  I was so tired and exhausted after that meeting, trying to make sure everyone was having a good time despite our low numbers.

Just last week we had 25 children sign up for our nursing home visit.  This was an all time record number and only 5 people let me know ahead of time that they weren’t going to attend.   The nursing home had forgotten we were coming and so we frantically set up the room to prepare for the largest group ever.  In the end, only 7 of the 20 children attended (2 of them were my own). I was so discouraged and I kept one eye on the door for most of the visit (where was everybody?).  I was so distracted and upset that I almost did not notice the joy right in front of me.

During that visit, one of the residents could sense my distraction and she invited me to sit with her at her table.  She took my hands, looked deep into my eyes and thanked me for always bringing the children.  “You all bring the light each time you come and it is so wonderful to see children who want to spend time with their elders!”  She expressed her gratitude for these visits over the past 4 years and told me just how much she looks forward to them.  “You are doing good work Jessica, you are teaching these kids to be helpers.”

That special lady taught me a very important lesson, a lesson that I should have learned long ago. It does not matter how many children attend our meetings, all that matters is that we SHOW UP to serve.  I need to flip my perspective and focus on the good that we are doing, even if we have small numbers.  I need to let it go and not obsess over who is NOT there but focus on all the good that is right in front of me.

Showing up to serve is the most important part of what I am doing with this group.  Numbers will go up and down but I will continue to put my all into every meeting.  I truly believe that children can start to be helpers from the minute they are put on this earth.  These children are the light and I will continue to help them find places to serve and shine.

 

 

Gratitude, hygge for families, Kindness

Project Appreciation


For this sweet project you need to gather everyone in the kitchen to bake together.  I know what you are thinking parents…do I want to have to clean up a big mess?  Wouldn’t it be easier to bake the treats myself?  I promise that involving your kids (even the little guys) will be a much more rewarding service project.  Trust me, it will be worth it!

Will you and your family accept this mission of APPRECIATION?

Your Mission:  Bake a sweet treat for a group of people who serve your community.  Have your children create a thank you note to go along with the treat.  Deliver the treat and let that group know how much you appreciate all they do.

Supplies:  a kitchen, baking supplies, the ingredients for a NUT FREE treat (cookies, brownies, cupcakes etc), a container that you are willing to give away, paper and writing/coloring tools

Procedure: Pick a community group that your family would like to bake for. Perhaps you bring the treats to the fire station, the police station, the librarians, your school custodians, the workers at the town dump, the town employees, the postal workers, the snow plow drivers or your parish office.  The possibilities are endless for this project!!

Work together to bake a sweet treat like cookies, cupcakes or brownies (try to keep everything nut free and label that you did so).  Package the treats up in a container that you are willing to give away (saving a few for family hygge time) and create a thank you card to go along with the treats (click here for a FREE Kids in Service Thank You Card Printable).  Deliver the treats as a family to the intended community group.  Try to coordinate the drop off time with the hours that they are open.

www.kidsinservice.net

This is one of my favorite hands-on service projects for kids and it can be done with ages 2 and up.  Who will you and your children bake for???

Did you complete this mission?  

Take pictures of the process and email them to us at communityserviceforkids@gmail.com.  

We’d love to include your children in our Incredible Kids of the month!

 

 

Gratitude, Holiday, Kindness

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is the 7 day festival that begins on December 26th and goes until New Years Day. Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga and is a beautiful celebration of faith, community and creativity. This festival originates from African harvest festivals and was created so that African Americans and Pan Americans could celebrate their heritage and come together in unity.

Each day of Kwanzaa focuses on a different principle and each night a new candle on the kinara is lit. Kinara’s can be expensive so if you wanted to celebrate Kwanzaa with your family, you could always make a paper kinara and add a paper flame to the appropriate candle each night.  Some examples of paper kinara’s are HERE and HERE.

The 7 principles or pillars of Kwanzaa are things that EVERYONE can strive for all year long.  Below I have included the 7 principles, some ideas for activities that you and your family can do for each and some of our favorite Kwanzaa books.

  1. Umoja or Unity–This pillar is there to remind people of the importance of unity in their families, their communities and their race.  The center black candle is lit on this night. To celebrate Umoja, it might be a great time to have a family game night, a special family dinner or go on a Gratitude Walk as a family.  Click HERE to learn more.1
  2. Kujichagulia or Self-DeterminationKujichagulia is all about defining who you are and what you stand for.  The far left red candle is lit on this night.  Kujichagulia would be a great day to set some goals with your children.  Maybe you could do a New Year Interview or create a vision board together of their hopes and dreams.  This could be done with old magazine photos, drawings and you could even make a big family vision board.1
  3. Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility-Ujima is about working as a community to solve problems. The far right green candle is lit on this night.  Ujima would be a great day to volunteer your time.  Perhaps you could donate food to the local food bank, visit a nursing home, bring animal supplies to a shelter or clean up a local park.4
  4. Ujamaa or Coopertive EconomicsUjamaa is all about supporting local businesses to help them to thrive and grow in your community.  The second red candle is lit on this night.  Small businesses are vital to our local economies and Ujamaa is a great day to show them your appreciation.  Perhaps today you make cards for the local businesses in your community and deliver them with a “Thank You” for all they do.3
  5. Nia or Purpose-Nia is all about building community and remembering our traditions. The second green candle is lit on this night. To celebrate Nia you could visit or call the elders in your family and ask them to share stories of the past (I know they’d love to hear from you).  Make sure to record these precious conversations so that you can play them back again and again. It might be fun to look through old photo albums to see how traditions have been passed down in your family from generation to generation.6
  6. Kuumba or Creativity-Kuumba encourages us to do as much as we can to leave our world and surroundings better off than when we came. The last red candle is lit on this night. Kuumba would be a great day to clean up your street, your local park or help a neighbor with an outdoor chore.  If your world is covered in snow, perhaps you make hot cocoa for the town plow drivers or give them gift cards to a local coffee shop.  You could make some artwork for the local nursing home to brighten up the residents rooms and leave the world a little brighter. The sixth night of Kwanzaa is also time for the Karamu or the big feast of Kwanzaa.  4
  7. Imani or FaithImani is there to remind us to believe in the people around us (parents, teachers and leaders) and to remember the struggle of the African Americans in this nation.  The last green candle is lit this night.  You can celebrate Imani by thanking all those people in your life who help you out.  Maybe you could write thank you notes for the gifts you received during the holidays or call someone special to let them know how much they mean to you.5

Favorite Books for Kwanzaa

517EVTWGW5L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This book is no longer in print but you may be able to get it at your local library. This is a sweet story of kindness is all about Imani learning about Kwanzaa and her family traditions from her grandmother.  In this story it is the sixth night of Kwanzaa and time for the Karamu (the big feast of Kwanzaa) on New Year’s Eve.  It is Imani’s turn to light the Kinara on this special night and she is nervous.  What will the gift for Imani be?

 

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This is a nice alphabet book that helps to understand all of the Swahili words and customs associated with Kwanzaa.  This is a great book for your family if you have never celebrated Kwanzaa before and would like to learn more about this festival of light and family. From the publisher: “A unique alphabet book for children and a wonderful introduction to Kwanzaa, the holiday that celebrates African American heritage.
 For example:A is for Africa — Africa is the second largest continent. It has many countries. African Americans’ ancestors came from Africa. Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates the rich heritage of Africa.”

 

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From the publisher: “Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.”

 

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the image of the books above you will be taken to Amazon.  20% of all profits made through this site will be donated to our charity of the season.  You can see the current charity on our Book Corner page.  Thank you for supporting our site and a very noble charity.)  

featured, Gratitude

Gratitude Activities for Kids

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

-Willie Nelson

Gratitude is a skill that must be taught to children and developed over time.  We have a bunch of activities on this page to help your child to develop their understanding of gratitude while having a lot of fun.

Gratitude Sticky Notes--We do this in the winter and spring but you could do it anytime of year.  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.

Gratitude Walk--Take a walk as a family and as you walk you can each think about what you are grateful for.  Have you and your children observe things in nature to be grateful for.  You can all call them out as you notice them or save them to share with a snack at the end of your walk or at a half way point.

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Gratitude Scavenger Hunt–This great activity is from Let’s Get Together.  My kids and I are planning to do it as a photo scavenger hunt but you do not have to.  This simple activity encourages EVERYONE in the family to look closely for the blessings all around them.  Click Here to head to their site so you can print out your own Scavenger Hunt.

Learning Through Stories--Reading stories is a WONDERFUL way to teach children about gratitude.  We have a bunch of great books that help children to learn the importance of gratitude and thanksgiving.  Click on the photo above to check out our list of books for teaching gratitude.

The Gratitude Game--We played this fun Gratitude Game from Teach Beside Me, last year at our Kids in Service meetings.  I made our game out of colored popsicle sticks and it was a lot of fun to play with the seniors at the nursing home.  You could keep this game by your dining room table and play during family meal times.

Gratitude Conversation Starters--These FREE Gratitude Conversation Starters by Creative Family Fun will be perfect for family meal times.  I just printed out a set and cut them up and put the papers in a glass mason jar.  I am so excited to use these as conversation starters to help continue to develop my children’s gratitude practice. There are twenty conversation starters in all and can be used again and again throughout the year.

A BEAUTIFUL gratitude video for you and the kids!  

 

 

featured, Gratitude

Marking Gratitude with Kids

Gratitude, like empathy, is an important skill 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 purchased a turkey for this November (as well as turkeys for my nieces and nephews).
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.  They are now working through their fourth journals and we love the copy that is above by Crystal Paine.  There is plenty of room for pictures for the young kids who are not yet ready to write what they are grateful for. You can find it on Amazon (this is not an advertisement).

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.

Book Corner, Gratitude, Holiday Books

Thanksgiving Books

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read our policy below.)

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Here are some of our FAVORITE Thanksgiving books.  These books are about gratitude, family, friendship and tradition. Click on the picture of the book to be taken to Amazon for more information. Enjoy!

 

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This is a sweet book for children ages 4 and up.  Mrs. Moose wants a Turkey for Thanksgiving and Mr. Moose is determined to go out and find one.  Along the way  Mr. Moose meets up with all of their Thanksgiving guests and they join him to find a turkey.   This book is about friendship and gratitude and is a wonderful tale for Thanksgiving.

From the Publisher: “Mr. and Mrs. Moose invite all their animal friends for Thanksgiving dinner and the only one missing is Turkey. When they set out to find him, Turkey is quaking with fear because he doesn’t realize that his hosts want him at their table, not on it.

 

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This is a sweet book of a family preparing for their Thanksgiving feast.  While they prepare, they give thanks for the many blessings in their life.  The book is told in rhyme from the perspective of the little boy and it is a great story for children ages 5 and up.

From the Publisher: “Little P.K. spends Thanksgiving Day playing with his friends and taking stock of just how much they all mean to him. From breakfast with his family, to playing football with his pals, to spending time with relatives and neighbors, this is a day to count his blessings, and “mostly I’m thankful for all of my friends!” Bright and colorful illustratations make this seasonal book pop off the shelves.”

 

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This book involves another tale of Bear and his friends.  This time Bear decides he wants to thank his friends with a feast but realizes he doesn’t have food to offer.  Bears friends arrive one by one and each bring a food to share.  Soon there is a feast for all but Bear feels very badly that he has nothing to share!  This is a story of friendship and gratitude and perfect for ages three and up.

From the Publisher: “What better way for Bear to say thanks, than to have a big dinner with all his friends! Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?
     Karma Wilson’s playful text and Jane Chapman’s charming illustrations bring to life this celebration of family and friendship. Young readers will delight in discovering the special gift Bear has to share.”

 

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This fun Thanksgiving tale has the turkey running for his life through the barnyard.  This fun tale about friendship and gratitude is sure to delight ages 2 and up.

From the Publisher: “With Thanksgiving only one day away, can Turkey find a place to hide from the farmer who’s looking for a plump bird for his family feast?
Maybe he can hide with the pigs . . . or the ducks . . . or the horses . . .Uh-oh! Here comes the farmer! Run, Turkey, run!”

 

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I have LOVED this book for years. One of the teachers I use to work with had her Kindergartners and 1st graders put on a play based on this book.  This funny and silly book is about friendship and giving thanks.  This is one of my favorites and perfect for children ages 3 and up.

From the Publisher: “On the night before Thanksgiving, a group of children visit a turkey farm and meet Farmer Mack Nuggett and his coop of cockerels: Ollie, Stanley, Larry, Moe, Wally, Beaver, Shemp, and Groucho. The children and turkeys giggle and gobble, and everything is gravy. As the trip comes to an end, the children leave the farm with full hearts — and bulging bellies — reminding people and poultry alike that there is much to be thankful for.”

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the image of the books above you will be taken to Amazon.  20% of all profits made through this site will be donated to our charity of the season.  You can see the current charity on our Book Corner page.  Thank you for supporting our site and a very noble charity.)  

featured, Gratitude

Books for Gratitude and Thanksgiving

“Begin each day with a grateful heart.”

-unknown

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Here are some books that center around the theme of Gratitude and at the bottom of this post you will find our favorite Thanksgiving books. Click on the picture of the book to be taken to Amazon for more information. CLICK HERE for a Kids in Service Book List printable that you can take with you to the local library or bookstore.

Books for Teaching Gratitude

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In a world that often focuses on all of the bad going on, this book focuses on all of the good people who are doing good things every day.  This book looks at the people we encounter everyday and why we should be grateful for all of the good things that they do.  This book is wonderful for ages 3 and up!

From the publisher: “A colorful picture book that will warm the hearts of children and adults alike, each of its pages contain endearing examples and vibrant illustrations to inspire children to grow into grateful, caring, and giving people. It provides a wonderful way to calm children before sleep, ease their fears, and help them develop an appreciation for good work.”

 

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This is one of my favorite stories!  The little boy is not happy about having to make the long weekly journey on the bus with his grandmother and spends his time looking out the window thinking about all of the things that he doesn’t have.  Grandma helps him to see all that he does have and in the end he is grateful that they made the long journey to help others! Great for ages 5 and up

From the publisher: “Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.”

 

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We are Grateful, Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell is a beautiful book about the Cherokee nation and the gratitude that they have throughout every season.  It starts with autumn and ends with summer and throughout each season you learn new Cherokee words and all of the gifts and blessings they experience.  There is even a Cherokee alphabet on the back page.  This book would be great for ages 4 and up.

 

61eMAtyHtxL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgGrateful, A Song of Giving Thanks by John Bucchino.  This beautiful book illustrated by Lilsa Hakkarainen is a song about all of the things we have in our lives to be grateful for, we just have to open our eyes to see them.  This book comes with a CD of the song being sung by Art Garfunkel.  This book would be great for children of all ages.

From the Publisher: “Once in a while, a perfect union of words and music creates a transcendent song that soars from the heart and speaks to every soul…Grateful is such an anthem—a loving reminder of the gifts available to us when we approach life with gratitude. It is a song that inspires courage, compassion, and hope. In this exquisite picture book and accompanying CD recorded by Art Garfunkel, Anna-Lisa Hakkarainen’s radiant paintings bring John Bucchino’s words to life. A joyous celebration of the beauty of the seasons, the wonders of nature, and the blessings of faith, here is a gift to be treasured by children and adults of all ages.”

 

51EoTyN89OL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Thankful Book by Todd Parr is a simple and fun way to explain the concept of gratitude to very young children.  They will LOVE the bright and fun pictures in this book and the concrete examples of what to be grateful for will have them saying, “ME TOO”.  I recommend this book to children ages 0-7.

From the Publisher: “Todd Parr’s bestselling books have taught kids about unconditional love, respecting the earth, facing fears, and more, all with his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity. Now, The Thankful Book celebrates all the little things children can give thanks for. From everyday activities like reading and bath time to big family meals together and special alone time between parent and child, Todd inspires readers to remember all of life’s special moments. The perfect book to treasure and share, around the holidays and throughout the year.”

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This sweet poem book would be great for children 6 and up.  This book has a variety of poems and sweet illustrations that all focus around gratitude.

From the publisher: “What makes you thankful? In sixteen extraordinary poems that range in form from a haiku to a rebus to a riddle, Nikki Grimes reminds us how wonderful it is to feel thankful, and how powerful a simple “thank you” can be.

 

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This book is the perfect way to explain the concept of gratitude to young children.  It is done as a poem and in simple language that young children can understand.  The pictures are adorable and this would be great for anyone over the age of 3 years old.

From the publisher: “Thankful, written by beloved children’s author Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Archie Preston, combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the firefighter, for putting the fire out, children are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives. Spinelli exhibits her endearing gift for storytelling with this engaging poem, reminding children how blessed and special they are. Meant to be read aloud, this heartwarming board book will be a treasured keepsake for parents and children alike.”

 

51eN1MB6WQL.jpgFirenze’s Light by Jessica Callaco is a new favorite of mine.  This is the sweet story of a little firefly named Firenze, who does not like the fact that she is a firefly.  Her friends don’t light up the way she does and she wants to be more like they are.  Throughout the story, she discovers the gift of being yourself and learns to be grateful for all that makes her unique.  I’d recommend this beautifully illustrated book for ages 3 and up.

From the Publisher: Follow Firenze, a feisty firefly, as she discovers the power of her light in this fun and encouraging story of friendship and self-appreciation. Firenze’s friends love her light, but Firenze doesn’t think it’s so great. How can she when it’s nearly impossible to play a good game of hide-and-seek?!! When Firenze’s light and a new friend’s artwork unexpectedly combine, she must decide whether she will keep her light hidden or find the courage to let it shine.

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This book involves another tale of Bear and his friends.  This time Bear decides he wants to thank his friends with a feast but realizes he doesn’t have food to offer.  Bears friends arrive one by one and each bring a food to share.  Soon there is a feast for all but Bear feels very badly that he has nothing to share!  This is a story of friendship and gratitude and perfect for ages three and up.

From the Publisher: “What better way for Bear to say thanks, than to have a big dinner with all his friends! Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?
     Karma Wilson’s playful text and Jane Chapman’s charming illustrations bring to life this celebration of family and friendship. Young readers will delight in discovering the special gift Bear has to share.”

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Tomie dePaola is a favorite in this house and this sweet and simple book about gratitude is perfect for young children (or older children who need to be reminded to look for the blessings all around them.

From the Publisher: “A young boy awakens with the dawn, opens his eyes and looks closely at his world. He admires all that surrounds him, large and small, from the radiant sun to a tiny, but exquisite, ladybug. “Today is today, and it is a gift,” writes Tomie dePaola in this meditative and joyful book. Simply and beautifully told, and illustrated with jewel-like paintings, this picture book encourages each one of us to be thankful.”

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Stories

Here are some of our FAVORITE Thanksgiving books.  These books are about gratitude, family, friendship and tradition. Click on the picture of the book to be taken to Amazon for more information. Enjoy!

 

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This is a sweet book for children ages 4 and up.  Mrs. Moose wants a Turkey for Thanksgiving and Mr. Moose is determined to go out and find one.  Along the way  Mr. Moose meets up with all of their Thanksgiving guests and they join him to find a turkey.   This book is about friendship and gratitude and is a wonderful tale for Thanksgiving.

From the Publisher: “Mr. and Mrs. Moose invite all their animal friends for Thanksgiving dinner and the only one missing is Turkey. When they set out to find him, Turkey is quaking with fear because he doesn’t realize that his hosts want him at their table, not on it.

 

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This is a sweet book of a family preparing for their Thanksgiving feast.  While they prepare, they give thanks for the many blessings in their life.  The book is told in rhyme from the perspective of the little boy and it is a great story for children ages 5 and up.

From the Publisher: “Little P.K. spends Thanksgiving Day playing with his friends and taking stock of just how much they all mean to him. From breakfast with his family, to playing football with his pals, to spending time with relatives and neighbors, this is a day to count his blessings, and “mostly I’m thankful for all of my friends!” Bright and colorful illustrations make this seasonal book pop off the shelves.”

 

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This fun Thanksgiving tale has the turkey running for his life through the barnyard.  This fun tale about friendship and gratitude is sure to delight ages 2 and up.

From the Publisher: “With Thanksgiving only one day away, can Turkey find a place to hide from the farmer who’s looking for a plump bird for his family feast?
Maybe he can hide with the pigs . . . or the ducks . . . or the horses . . .Uh-oh! Here comes the farmer! Run, Turkey, run!”

 

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I have LOVED this book for years. One of the teachers I use to work with had her Kindergartners and 1st graders put on a play based on this book.  This funny and silly book is about friendship and giving thanks.  This is one of my favorites and perfect for children ages 3 and up.

From the Publisher: “On the night before Thanksgiving, a group of children visit a turkey farm and meet Farmer Mack Nuggett and his coop of cockerels: Ollie, Stanley, Larry, Moe, Wally, Beaver, Shemp, and Groucho. The children and turkeys giggle and gobble, and everything is gravy. As the trip comes to an end, the children leave the farm with full hearts — and bulging bellies — reminding people and poultry alike that there is much to be thankful for.”