No matter what the age, gratitude improves the quality of life by focusing on what a person has to be thankful for rather than what they don’t have. While Thanksgiving reminds people to count their blessings, this activity is appropriate for all times of the year. Teaching children to be thankful creates a lifelong habit of seeing things from an perspective of gratitude.
Create the trunk and branches of a large tree using brown craft paper and hang it on a door or wall. Cut out or purchase paper leaves to hang on your tree. Each day distribute a new leaf to your children. They write something they are thankful for on the leaf and tape it to the tree with the writing side facing the tree. Once a week, remove all the leaves from the tree and use them to decorate a table. During meal or snack time, have the children take turns reading the leaves aloud. Collect the leaves at the end of the meal and save a few for a year-end or Thanksgiving gratitude dinner.
Have the children sit in a circle. Toss a beanbag to one of the children. He stands and lists one thing he is grateful for and calls the name of a person in the circle. After he says one reason he is grateful for the person, he tosses that person the beanbag and the process repeats itself until all members of the circle have had a chance to speak.
Divide the children into two teams. The game host gives Team A the name of a person, place or thing. The team has 10 seconds to supply three things they are grateful for about their topic. For example, a sunny day offers opportunity to play outside, helps plants grow and warms the Earth. If Team A can’t think of three things in the time allotted, Team B can steal by naming three things of their own, but they may not duplicate answers given by Team A. One point is awarded each time a team provides three gratitude answers.
Give the children thank-you notes or paper. Have each child write a thank-you note or letter to someone who has sparked her gratitude in the last 24 hours. The note should explain how the person made her thankful. The child may decorate the note with artwork of the event or draw a picture of how the event made her feel. When possible, send the note to the recipient. Revisit the activity if any of the children receives a written response.