Here’s the perfect mindfulness activity for Thanksgiving or a rainy day. It’s called the gratitude tree, and we will definitely be doing one this year. I love the chance to count my blessings, and it’s a fun activity to do with your child.
The gratitude tree activity teaches children to:
appreciate the small things in life,
be grateful for everything they have,
be mindful of the things that are going right in their lives
and the people they hold closest to their hearts.
Gratitude practice is easy, heartwarming and fun to do
It even comes with science-backed benefits. According to research, gratitude practice decreases stress and negative thinking as it increases happiness and social intelligence. How about that?
You can go from spending your day wallowing in negative thoughts to actually immersing yourself in life’s joys. This might all sound a little lofty, but it’s true. There is so much good in each day, but we are usually just too distracted to see it.
Spend some time talking about gratitude with your child, and think about all the blessings in your lives. See if it becomes a new family tradition in your home.
Mindfulness For Children – The Gratitude Tree
Purpose: Gratitude, Positivity, Connection
Best for ages: 3+
What you need:
Colored paper to cut out leaves (double sided is nice for colorful leaves)
String or ribbon to hang the leaves on the tree branches
Twigs or tree branches
Rocks to add stability to the tree
The project is pretty simple and lots of fun.
1. Make a leaf cutout (or a few for variety) to use as your template. Here’s a PDF template from Jennifer Cooper at Classic Play. Trace the rest of the leaves on a bigger sheet and cut them out.
2. Punch a hole at the top of each leaf and loop a piece of string through each.
3. Put stones in a vase and stick the tree branch there.
4. Have your child draw or write about things he is grateful for on the leaves. If they are too young, you can write for them. You could also find some old photos and make a visual tree instead of writing things down.
5. You can make a few leaves of your own to model the concept for your child.
6. Hang the leaves from the branches.
Here’s a thirty second how-to video from Christina (The DIY Mommy)
Ideas of things to be grateful for
A quality about yourself
Something in nature
Something you love to do
Something you love to eat
Something you’ve learned this year
Gratitude can be about anything, really. The roof over your head, your child. Your senses. The beauty of an evening sky. The bird song you heard today. The scent of flowers. The warmth you feel inside your thick sweater, the sun on your face.
Seven fine gratitude trees to inspire you
1. A delightful tree by Christina @ The DIY Mommy
2. A colorful fall tree by Jennifer Cooper @ Classic Play
3. A beautiful tree from Elizabeth @ FrugalMomEh.com
4. A lovely thankful tree from Emily @ SimplyVintageGirl.com
5. If you’d like to keep it simple (without real twigs), you could do a fun gratitude tree like this one by Landee @ Landeeseelandeedoo.com
6. Maybe even add photos to your tree like Shaunte @ Crafts Unleashed
7. Rebekah @ SimplyRebekah.com raised the bar with a huge thankful tree. I’d love to do one just like it.
Happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for.
You can find this and 150 more playful mindfulness games and activities in my book:
Ultimate Mindfulness Activity Book
– 150 Playful Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Teens (and Grown-Ups too!)
I hope that your family will enjoy this exercise.
Wishing you many mindful moments :-)
Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids
Empathy and Loving Kindness Practice
Bedtime Wishes For Loving Kindness
If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend our online courses: Get notified here!
Chris Bergstrom is the co-founder of BlissfulKids.com and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator, and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.
Sources: Emma Seppala, “13 Science-Backed Benefits of Gratitude”, http://www.emmaseppala.com/gratitude-benefits-and-meditation/, (2015)