Do you wish there were easy, fun ways to teach your child about gratitude? This list of 13 activities and games will help them practice ways to be thankful all year long – not just at Thanksgiving time.
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When we think of gratitude and being thankful, we usually think about Thanksgiving time. And while this is a great time to teach kids about gratitude, I think that this is a concept that’s important to practice all year long. And that’s where this list comes in! You will find 13 easy, fun activities, ideas, and games for kids to practice gratitude year round!
Games to teach gratitude:
Gratitude candy game
This yummy game will help kids think more about the different things they are thankful for. To play, all you need is a non-see through bowl or bag of Skittles, M&M’s, or any candy that has multiple colors, and a chart that tells what to say for each color. Then everyone takes turns picking a candy out of the bag or bowl and based on its color, they say what they are thankful for.
For example, if you pick a red candy, then you might say a person that you are thankful for; a yellow candy could be an object you’re grateful for and so on. For more detailed instructions, check out Play, Party, Plan.
Gratitude pick-up sticks
This game is like the candy game described above, but instead of using candy, you take turns drawing different color pick up sticks. You can use the classic sticks from the original game of Pick Up Sticks or you can make your own sticks using the simple instructions on Teach Beside Me.
Family members gratitude game
You can play this game with either your whole family or with a group of friends – both would be fun! You start by writing on individual slips of paper, the names of everyone who is playing (one name per piece of paper). Then each person draws a name (just not their own!) and on a blank notecard or piece of paper, they write down three things they like about this person or are grateful to this person for. When everyone is done, each person takes turns reading their three things aloud while the rest of the family/friends tries to guess who they are talking about.
Gratitude A to Z
This game requires only imagination and your family! One person starts by naming something they are thankful for that begins with the letter “a.” The next person continues by naming something that starts with the letter “b” and so on until you have gone through the whole alphabet. To make it even more challenging, you can have each person repeat what the previous people said for their letter, then add their idea using the letter that comes next.
There are two ways to play this game, and both are equally as easy! The first way is to just roll a dice and whatever number you roll, that is how many things you say that you’re thankful for.
The second way is to roll a dice and for each of the different numbers you say something that you’re thankful for. For example, if you roll a “1” you name a person you’re thankful for; roll a “2” and you say what food you are thankful for, and so on from 1 to 6. This is easiest to do if you write down what to say for each number before playing the game.
You can play as a whole family or split into teams to play this classic drawing game! Take turns drawing something or someone you are thankful for while the other players try to guess what is being drawn. You can keep score or just play for fun – either way it’ll be a good time!
Together as a family, you can make a list of things to find on your scavenger hunt (which can be done inside or outdoors) that you are thankful for. Some ideas to get you started could be: Find something….
- You love to look at
- That is your favorite color
- You like to listen to
- You think is useful
- That makes you laugh
- That smells good to you
- You like to do
- That makes you happy
Activities and Ideas to Practice Gratitude:
Grab some paper (and maybe a clipboard) and a pencil and take a walk around your home or neighborhood and draw some of the things you see that you are thankful for. You could also do this same activity, but instead of drawing what you see, you can take a picture of it.
Make a gratitude tree
This is a fun project that the whole family can do together and can be done in different ways. The first is to use the free printable shown below. Just print out the leaves and the tree, then write what you are thankful for on the leaves. Finish it off by gluing the leaves to the tree. Easy, thoughtful, and cute – a perfect activity!
Another option is to gather some small bare branches, then place them in a vase or container. Then cut out leaf shapes and on each one, write something that you are thankful for. These then get string attached to them and hung on the tree. For pictures of what this looks like, and more detailed directions on how to make your own gratitude tree, see kidsactivities.com.
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Keep a gratitude journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to help your child focus on gratitude, even if they are having a bad day. By taking time each day to talk about and write down something that they are thankful for, your child is working on forming a habit of gratitude. Now that’s a good habit to have! And if you want more tips on how to start a journal with your kids, check out Mindful Little Minds.
There are also many choices when it comes to how to keep a journal. You can simply use a regular notebook and write down the date and what your child is thankful for. There are also great gratitude journals that are available for purchase and are priced very reasonably. Or you can find printable gratitude journals that you download and print yourself. Whatever method you use, journals are a great way to practice gratitude by looking for something each day to be thankful for.
Make a gratitude paper chain
For a simple, yet cute way to share what your child (or the entire family) is thankful for, try making your own paper chain! Cut out stripes of paper, write one thing to be thankful for on each piece of paper, and attach them together to form a chain. To see what this looks like, and for instructions on making a paper chain, head on over to In the Bag Kid’s Crafts.
Fill a gratitude jar
This is another simple, yet effective way to keep track of all the things your child or family is thankful for. All you need is a jar or container of some type (which you can have fun decorating!) and small pieces of paper. Each day, write down what you are thankful for on a slip of paper and put it into the gratitude jar. You can then keep adding to it throughout the year and on New Years Eve, take the paper slips out and read all of the things you had to be grateful for over the past year.
Make thank you cards
In this age of emails and text messages, help show your child the value of giving someone a physical thank you card or picture. They can show their appreciation to someone they’re thankful for by the simple act of making and sending (or handing out in person) a thank you card. Or, if they are older, they could also write a letter of thanks as well. Thank you cards are an easy thing to do, but it can have a big impact on both the one giving the card as well as the one receiving it.
More about practicing gratitude:
- Not only is gratitude important to your children, but to your whole family as well. Many of the ideas, games, and activities listed above would be great to do together as a fun family project (along with these 67 family night ideas!).
- The 13 activities and games listed above are great ways to teach kids more about being thankful, but if you’re looking for even more information on this, be sure to head over to kidshealth.org for 3 ways to practice gratitude.
- We all know that practicing gratitude is good for our children (and ourselves), but why? If you’ve ever found yourself asking this question, then you’re in luck! Holly at Pink Fortitude answers this and explains the science behind gratitude.
- For a different approach to gratitude, the Raising Grateful Children Project looks at the four parts to gratitude and how we may be leaving some things out when teaching it.
I hope that this list of 13 activities to practice gratitude has been helpful to you and that you’ve found some ideas that you’re excited to try with your own family today! Are there any other activities or games that you would add to this list?