Inside: Here are 10 exciting ways of practicing gratitude with your kids and grandkids. Thanksgiving advent calendars; gratitude quilts, arts & crafts cornhusks, gourds and pumpkins made with recycled materials & more!
10 Exciting Ways of Practicing Gratitude with Your Kids & Grandkids!
Thanksgiving is in the air! That time of the year when people everywhere turn their hearts and minds to gratitude and turkey festivities!
It’s one of my favorite holidays because there are so many exciting ways of practicing gratitude and showing, expressing, and giving with a glad and thankful heart.
Here are 10 different Thanksgiving activities for practicing gratitude with your kids and grandkids—advent calendars and quilts, baking fall leaf cookies in the kitchen, creating Thanksgiving art and crafts, and reading loads of fun books!
#1 Gratitude & Thanksgiving Advent Calendar
Advent calendars are usually associated with Christmas, but they don’t have to be! You can create them for just about every holiday of the year.
A Thanksgiving Gratitude Advent Calendar can be a fun way of practicing gratitude with your children and grandchildren every day. It will turn their hearts and minds to what they are thankful for as they prepare for a holiday fraught with meaning and history.
I purchased place cards of autumn leaves and pumpkins at Hobby Lobby and created a November calendar on a poster board. Each day our grandkids take turns opening up the leaf or pumpkin and writing down or drawing what they are thankful for.
- Posterboard 22×28” (I purchased brown)
- Place cards (Hobby Lobby—I purchased 2 packages, one with leaves; one with pumpkins). These open up so that your kids/grandkids can write something to be grateful for inside the card.
- Yardstick & black marker
- Number and letter stickers
- On the long side of the poster board, make measuring marks every 4”. You will have 7 sections.
- On the shorter side of the poster board, make measure marks 4.5” apart. You will have 5 sections.
- Draw squares using the black marker, leaving the top without any marks (so you can put in the word, “November”). You want to end up with a total of 30 squares.
- Add number stickers to the top of each square—you need numbers 1-30
- Add the word, “November” to the top of the calendar using letter stickers
- Glue on the leaves and pumpkins place cards
- Each day open a place card and write down something you are grateful for.
#2 Practicing Gratitude: Arts & Crafts Cornhusks
Thanksgiving is a holiday commemorating the Pilgrims’ first year in America with their Native American friends.
To celebrate this tradition, we made colorful corn husks using pipe cleaners and big pony beads. They are a colorful decoration for Thanksgiving and a poignant reminder of those early Americans! Plus, they are super fun to make!
- 7 pipe cleaners per person—green, brown, or tan
- Assorted colors of Pony beads
- Take the 7 pipe cleaners and twist them together at the ends. Spread them out
- String 20 pony beads onto each pipe cleaner
- At the top, gather the pipe cleaners and beads and twist—leaving 3” at the top for the husk.
Inspiration: Smart School House
#3 A Gratitude Quilt—A Colorful Way of Practicing Gratitude
Fall is the time when colorful leaves dot the landscape creating picturesque scenes of red, gold, orange, and yellow!
We took the grandkids on a fall walk and gathered all different shapes and sizes of leaves; took them home and using Kwik Stix markers—painted them and then stamped the leaves on cardstock creating beautiful leaf prints.
We decided to take our leaf prints and make a gratitude quilt with 16 squares.
The grandkids picked their favorite 4 solid colors of cardstock and 4 patterned colors of paper. We attached the 16 leaves they made—one per square and then hung up their quilts in their bedrooms.
Have each of your children write down 16 things they are grateful for. Type them up and put them in envelopes, and each day they tape one to their quilt squares.
But don’t stop there—make the art of practicing gratitude a habit in your home with your children and see how it changes your lives. Because it will. And science says so!
- Posterboard 22×28”
- 4 different sheets of solid colored cardstock & 4 complimentary sheets of patterned paper
- Real leaves—different kinds
- Kwik Stix markers
- Letter stickers
- Crayons with paper removed
- Gather green leaves in nature. They need to be soft—not dry.
- Using Kwik Stix markers, color the vein side of the leaf.
- Press the leaf down onto the white cardstock paper. Lift up and you will see the colored leaf print
- Cut out around the leaves and glue on different colors of cardstock. Cut out leaving a small edge
- You can also take leaves, put them under a piece of paper, and with the flat side of a crayon, color over them bringing out the image of the leaf.
- Take the 4 different colors of cardstock and patterned paper and cut them into 5.5” squares
- On a piece of poster board (22×28”) measure down 6” from the top. Draw a line across. In this space, put the letters, “My Gratitude Quilt” and one of their big leaves
- On the area below, measure out 4 rows across and 4 rows down; each square is 5.5”. You will have 16 individual squares on the poster board.
- Arrange the cardstock and patterned paper into a quilt-like pattern on the poster board and glue it in place.
- Glue one of the leaves on top of each section for a total of 16 leaves.
- Type up 16 different things your child/grandchild is grateful for. Put in an envelope; attach with a clothespin to the poster and each day have the child pull one out and tape it onto the quilt.
#4 Thanksgiving Pumpkins & Gourds: A Collage Using Recycled Materials
Do your kids/grandkids love to cut and glue? If so, this is the perfect project for them!
We like to recycle old projects and papers the grandkids doodle and paint on. These were from comb, alcohol, and credit card paintings they did.
Cut your papers in different shapes and sizes and glue them onto paper with pumpkins and gourds—creating a collage of Thanksgiving colors. You’re giving that old artwork a new life and creating little mini-pieces of artwork at the same time!
Final result—a Thanksgiving picture suitable for framing (plus, it’s a way to be grateful for recycling)!
- Pumpkin & Gourd free template
- Old art projects to recycle
- Download the pumpkin/gourd template on cardstock paper
- Cut up old art projects in small pieces of different sizes
- Arrange and glue them onto the pumpkin/gourd paper
#5 Thanksgiving Bracelets—A Wearable Reminder of Practicing Gratitude
When browsing Amazon one day, I came across these darling “Gratitude” beads that are perfect to make into bracelets! Each bead spells out one of these words, “Grateful,” “Thankful,” and “Blessed.”
They are easy to make and require bilateral coordination—using 2 hands to do a project—which is connected to brain organization and learning.
- Thanksgiving gratitude beads
- Hemp cord or other cord used in jewelry making
- Give each child about 20 beads—I also gave them some small spool beads I had—but you don’t need any more than 20 beads
- Tie a knot at the end of the cord.
- String the beads on and measure the child’s wrist for the correct size–adjust if necessary
- Tie both ends together.
#6 In the Kitchen—Making Thanksgiving Leaf Cookies
Do your kids/grandkids love cooking and baking in the kitchen? Ours do so every time they come—we head to the kitchen to bake up a storm!
This time we baked our favorite sugar cookies; stamped the dough with fall leaf cookie cutters; and then decorated them with frosting and piped on leaves.
Easy and fun! And don’t forget–these cookies were made from start to finish by little kids–ages 2-9–so they’re not perfect. It’s the process and learning that counts!
- Leaf cookie cutters
- Recipe for sugar cookies
- Frosting in different colors–yellow, brown, red, orange, and green
- Cake tips #3, #5, #30
- Make a batch of my delicious sugar cookies
- Whip up different colors of frosting—red, orange, yellow, green
- Frost the cookies with the colors of frosting
- Using different tips, decorate the cookies
#7 Painting Thanksgiving Pumpkins–a Fun Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Everyone paints Halloween pumpkins–but what about painting pumpkins in Thanksgiving colors to adorn your porch throughout the month of November? Or to use as centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table? These are fun, inexpensive, and oh, so colorful!
- White pumpkins
- Tempra paints–orange, gold, yellow, brown, red
- Clean your pumpkins
- Paint with all of the tempera paints listed above
- While the paint is still wet–cover it in glitter!
#8 Thanksgiving Books to Celebrate the Season
One of the most important ways to celebrate ANY holiday or season is to read lots and lots of books. There is magic in reading books to children to usher in and celebrate each holiday and season.
Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving books that will help when practicing gratitude!
- Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf
- The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming
- I Am Thankful by Sheri Wall
- How to Catch a Turkey by Adam Wallace
- Just a Special Thanksgiving by Mercer Mayer
- The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross
- This is the Turkey by Abby Levine
- Gratitude is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego
#9 & 10 Practicing Gratitude with Two Thanksgiving Day Activities
While you are racing around putting the final touches on your Thanksgiving dinner, here are some fun and easy crafts to engage your children/grandchildren with…
I found this on the Better Homes & Gardens website. It includes 3 different activities for your kids/grandkids to do hours before the big dinner! Word search, unscramble Thanksgiving words, make lists of your favorite foods for Thanksgiving dinner, and much more! Just download and have the kids dive in!
Check out this website: Homemade Gifts Made Easy for some fabulous Thanksgiving coloring pages
What fun activities do you do to practice gratitude and celebrate Thanksgiving? Please comment in the section below.
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