By Christine Louise Hohlbaum
Giving thanks is not only reserved for Thanksgiving, but the holiday serves as a gentle reminder of the importance and simplicity of gratitude. How can we teach our children about thankfulness without beating them over the head with it? When thinking about how to teach my children about gratitude, I had to reflect on my grandmother’s compulsion to send thank-you cards. Through her guidance (and yes, often prompting!), I learned to send thank-you cards at a very early age.
My children are learning to give thanks when they receive nice gifts or letters from their relatives. We’ve started off by writing the word “thank you” on top of their coloring pages and sending them off as thank you “notes”. Later, we will graduate to sending longer letters or cards.
Craft projects are another avenue for teaching children about gratitude. We have designed a gratitude turkey made out of construction paper. Each day in November, we take a colorful paper feather and write something on it for which we are grateful. It is a fun way to remind them of the things they have.
Coloring pages with various holiday themes can help illustrate what you are trying to teach your children. It is a fun way to talk about the pilgrim’s passage to the New World and the relationship they had with the Native Americans. For free printables, go to these sites:
Scrapbooks are another neat way to reflect on thankfulness. Take several sheets of paper and staple them together. On each page, paste a picture or a magazine cut-out of things for which your children are thankful. Help them write the item’s name underneath the picture. Now you have a keepsake that will last longer than one season. Date the book and pull it out every year. You may even want to add to it as the years go by. For older children, you may want to create a gratitude journal in which they can write lengthier passages.
When Thanksgiving Day arrives, take turns telling each other the things for which you are thankful at the table. You may just be surprised at how much your children have learned through your efforts!
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