14 Fun Ways to Give Thanks and Nurture Gratitude in Children
November is a time to gather and give thanks for all that we have. It’s also an excellent time to help children cultivate a sense of gratitude, which will benefit them both now and in the future.
Expressing gratitude has numerous benefits—for individuals and for relationships—making it an important character trait for children to learn at an early age. By modeling grateful behavior yourself and creating opportunities for children to express gratitude on a regular basis, you can help foster a climate where gratefulness thrives!
I’ve chosen 14 fun gratitude activities you can do at home or at school that I’ve personally tried and tested to help your children express gratitude and appreciate what they have.
7 easy ways to nurture gratitude in children by expressing gratitude
We all know the importance of building strong relationships. Whether it’s with our students, our colleagues, or our loved ones, positive relationships are essential to a happy and fulfilling life. But sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to forget the little things that make those relationships so special.
One way to show your appreciation for the people in your life is by expressing gratitude. When we take the time to say “thank you” or show our appreciation for someone, it can make a world of difference in the strength of that relationship.
The small acts of gratitude and kindness listed below will help you strengthen relationships and teach children to express gratitude.
1. Model gratitude yourself
The best way to teach children anything is by modeling the behavior yourself. Whenever possible, express gratitude to your colleagues, children, your students, and even yourself. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Whether it’s a colleague who helped you with a project or a student who made an effort in class, take the time to express your appreciation. And make sure that your thank-yous are genuine – people can always tell when you’re just going through the motions.
2. Write personal notes
Take the time to write personal notes to your children, letting them know what you appreciate about them or what you’re proud of them for accomplishing. These notes can be given for specific reasons or just because. I like to leave post-it notes for my son, and he does the same for me :-) It’s such a small gesture, but it always makes my heart happy.
3. Create opportunities for children to express gratitude
Make space in the classroom for students to share what they are grateful for each day. This can be done through a morning meeting circle, during writing time, or at the end of the day before dismissal. At home, you can start the day by sharing with your kids what you’re thankful for today and then asking them.
4. Help children see how they can make a difference in the lives of others
It is one thing to be grateful for what we have, but it is another thing altogether to feel grateful for the opportunity to help others. When children realize they have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of others, they will be more likely to act on those feelings of gratefulness.
5. Encourage acts of kindness and service
Another way to help students see how they can make a difference in the lives of others is to encourage them to perform acts of kindness and service. These activities can be as simple as making cards for elderly residents in a nearby nursing home or collecting canned goods for a local food pantry.
6. Ask them about their day
One way to show interest in someone is by taking the time to ask about their day-to-day experiences and listen attentively to their answers. Not only will this make them feel appreciated, but it will also give you insight into their lives and help build a stronger connection between you two.
7. Show your appreciation in front of others
There’s nothing like public recognition to really make someone feel appreciated! Next time someone does something nice for you or goes above and beyond, don’t hesitate to let others know how much you appreciate them too – it will mean the world to them!
7 fun gratitude activities for kids
The benefits of gratitude have been well-documented. When children cultivate an attitude of gratitude, they reap many benefits. Gratitude has been linked with improved physical health, greater psychological well-being, and stronger relationships. Given the numerous benefits of gratitude, it is understandable that educators and parents are looking for ways to instill gratitude in their children.
To get you started, I’ve selected seven delightful gratitude activities that I’ve tried myself. The activities listed below will assist you in making gratitude practice engaging and fun.
1. Gratitude Flowers
Gratitude Flowers is a playful mindfulness activity that is similar to the Gratitude Tree, but instead of trees, you’ll create simple fun flowers. If you’re a teacher then the kids will love it. You can design a beautiful garden full of happy gratitude flowers and help the kids nurture gratitude and joy as you build it together.
2. Gratitude Tree
The Gratitude Tree is the perfect mindfulness activity for Thanksgiving or a rainy day. It’s a fun craft to do with your kids that’s a little more involved than Gratitude Flowers.
3. Gratitude Gift
The Gratitude Gift activity is heartwarming and I can’t recommend it enough. It combines kindness and gratitude in a fun way that anyone can do. It’s also great for all ages. The Gratitude Gift is a compassionate spin on the traditional thank you note; a thank you note generally thanks someone for something, but this activity is a great way for a child to show appreciation to someone for simply existing.
4. Gratitude Photo Challenge
The Gratitude Photo Challenge is great for older kids and fun for grown-ups, too :-) The Gratitude Photo Challenge activity gives a teen-friendly spin to gratitude practice. This fun activity will teach your teen to pay attention to the things he or she is grateful for – for a full week! All you need is a camera or a phone with a camera.
5. The Gratitude Buddy
The Gratitude Buddy is a fun and engaging mindfulness game to help you connect, boost feel-good hormones and practice gratitude together with friends, classmates and family – even if you can’t meet face to face.
6. The Gratitude Spies Game
The Gratitude Spies Game is a great way to teach kids the importance of being grateful. In this fun mindfulness game for kids, players take on the role of “gratitude spies” who are tasked with finding things that they’re thankful for.
7. Gratitude Jar
The Gratitude Jar is a classic and great for all ages. I gave my son a Gratitude Jar for his fourth birthday. It didn’t look as cool as the other gifts. After all, it’s just a cookie jar filled with paper notes. But, time has proven that the Gratitude Jar prevails and toys get forgotten.
Gratitude, as you might expect, is my favorite mindful activity because it has so many benefits and is so enjoyable to do. It’s been a big part of our lives since my son was six months old, and it still brings us joy every day now that he’s eight.
Consider signing up for my upcoming fun Gratitude Books for Kids, which can be used at home, in kindergarten, and in classrooms.
If you want to make gratitude a fun and lasting part of your children’s lives, the books will provide the most straightforward and engaging way to teach, learn, and practice gratitude with children.
Simply click here to sign up for a chance to be part of the launch team, review the book and get it for free.
Wishing you many grateful moments!
Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, a leader in the field of mindfulness, and the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a community of parents, educators, and therapists dedicated to children’s mindfulness and psychology, with over 15 years of experience facilitating meditation and psychological interventions to people of all ages.
Chris is a certified mindfulness facilitator, trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12, and has received psychology and mindfulness training from UPenn, UCLA, UNC, Mindful Schools, and Mindfulness Without Borders.