Simple Activities to Teach Gratitude in Children

Last week we received several toy catalogues in the mail, and my kids absolutely love to go through each page and circle toys they are hoping to receive. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say my 7 year old daughter circled over 100 items. She loves Barbies and stuffies and LOL dolls and baby dolls and games and puzzles and Legos. She loves it ALL, and she had a blast going through and finding all sorts of gifts she’d be thrilled to open. She knows she won’t get it all, and she is probably doing what every other 7 year old does this time of year, but it still made me pause a bit and wonder if she needs a quick gratitude check.

We are in the season of excess. It starts at Halloween with allll the candy (or before, if you’re like me and crack open a bag early) and goes through New Year’s Eve. There is candy at Halloween, a feast at Thanksgiving, gifts for Christmas and parties for New Year’s. It’s all SO fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything…but it’s also exhausting and just plain hard to find time to slow down and practice gratitude. If it’s hard for an adult, it’s even harder for kids. They get caught up in the excitement, too, and it can be hard for them to remain grounded and thankful.

It’s incredibly important to me that my kids remain thankful and gracious throughout the busy-ness of the season. I want them to appreciate more than just the “stuff” they get on Christmas, or the food they eat at Thanksgiving. I want them to value time as a family, practice thankfulness and remain grateful for all they are given. 

But how? How do we make sure our kids feel thankful instead of entitled? How do we teach them to understand WHY they say “thank you” and WHY they should acknowledge the kindness of others? It’s not always easy..

Here are 10 fun and simple activities to help kids practice gratitude this season!

  1. Gratitude Collage
  2. Bedtime Thank Yous
  3. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
  4. Write Handwritten thank you notes 
  5. M&M Gratitude Game 
  6. Craft a “thankful” spinner 
  7. Leave a sticky note for someone you love
  8. Read a book about thankfulness
  9. Play “Roll the Dice” gratitude game
  10. Print out a FREE gratitude journal 

I’m not naive enough to believe these gratitude ideas will replace the wonder of toy catalogues or the excitement of opening gifts this season. But hopefully by practicing gratitude they will learn how fortunate they are, to be thankful for the people around them and to understand holidays mean more than just gifts.