Recommended ages: 2–Adult
In this season of giving thanks, teach your children about gratitude by modeling how to show appreciation.
Child Care Resources Inc. Behavior Specialist Nicole Randall suggests saying thank you to your child for sharing an item or cleaning up an area: “Thank you, Michael, for putting your toys away and helping to keep our room clean.”
You can also narrate what you are thankful for by saying, “I’m thankful that we are all together,” or “I feel appreciated when you give me a hug.”
Here are some activities to try at home:
Thankfulness Tree (Ages 2+)
To get started, draw a tree trunk and branches using any paper you have at home, or create a tree trunk and branches out of household items. Display the bare tree in a common area, and make sure you leave room for your tree to “grow.”
Draw and cut out several leaves. Ask your child to draw on a leaf one thing she is thankful for or that makes her happy. You may need to provide your child with categories to choose from (family, stuffed animals, friends, etc.). Once your child has completed her drawing, label what she drew and tape the leaf to the tree.
For older children, ask them to draw and cut out their own leaves and label their drawings themselves.
Repeat this activity once a day and watch your tree blossom.
Pro Tip: It's OK if your child's drawing consists of scribbles; focus on the process, not the end product.
How Many Items Are You Grateful For? (Ages 3+)
Ask your child to roll a die. Whatever number it lands on, encourage your child to name that many things he is thankful for.
Pro Tip: When playing this game, consider your child's age and developmental level. You might limit the number of options (a maximum of 3 or 5, for example) or provide your child with examples of people, places, things, or experiences he may be thankful for.
Appreciation Collage (Ages 2+)
Make a collage of things you and your child appreciate. Look through magazines, advertisements, or junk mail. If you have access to a printer, take pictures of items around your home and print them. Suggest that your child draw pictures of items to include in the collage as well.
Once you and your child have all the images selected, cut out the pictures and paste them together to form a “gratitude collage.” Encourage your child to discuss the things she is grateful for and to add more pictures as she finds them.