What better time to teach kids about gratitude than at Thanksgiving! Here are some ideas for teaching kids how to be thankful from ideas that came from parents like you:
A String of Thankfulness
One fall, I made leaf templates from cardboard and enlisted the kids' help in tracing them on yellow, orange and red construction paper and then cutting them out. Then we each took several leaves and wrote what we were thankful for and strung our leaves across the dining room. It's become a tradition. Every October, one of the kids reminds me, "Mom, it's time to make our thankfulness leaves!"
When my children were young, I set up a small tree in the dining room on Nov. 1. Then I made tags out of cardstock, punched holes in the top of the tags and tied a loop with yarn through the holes. Every day in November, each family member had to come up with one thing he or she was grateful for that day. The one rule was that they could not repeat something they had previously written. On Thanksgiving Day, we read each of the tags on the tree and observed how God had truly blessed us.
A Contagious Attitude
As my kids made place mats for our Thanksgiving table, my 5-year-old daughter sighed dramatically. She loves to color but complained about having so much to do and how she'd never be able to finish in time. Yikes!
I realized she was mimicking me. So instead of obsessing about my to-do list, I started focusing on how much fun it would be to see our friends and family during Thanksgiving. As my attitude changed, so did hers.
In my family, we call complaints and bad attitudes "turkeys." So it only seems natural to use this concept to encourage gratitude at Thanksgiving to turn those turkeys around! We draw turkeys on colored paper and cut them out. On the back of each turkey, we write a Bible verse about gratitude or blessings. Then when one of us says something ungrateful, that person writes or draws something he or she is thankful for on the front of a turkey. During Thanksgiving dinner, we read the turkeys aloud and thank God for our blessings.
—Mary Ann Romans
A Thankful Feast
To help us learn to give thanks in all circumstances, my family started a new tradition: a weekly "feast of thankfulness." Throughout the week, we write down things we are thankful for in a family notebook. One night a week, we pull out the fancy china and enjoy a meal that we prepared together. We discuss the items we've written in our notebook as we celebrate all that God has given us.