Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Family, gratitude, love, kindness; these are the most important things to me. In fact, my husband and I were married on Thanksgiving weekend, to honor the importance of these values in our lives.

At the time, I was teaching First Grade, and for the entire month of November, we spent lots of class time talking about and practicing gratitude. One project we did every year was the “Thankful Tree” which was a tree decorated with leaves of thanks. “I am thankful for ____ because _____.” The Thankful Tree project even inspired my wedding vows to my husband, which were written in this same style, “I am thankful for you because ____.”

I’d love to say that we do our thankful lists every year but, to be honest, once I left the classroom, the only time we would do it would be at the Thanksgiving dinner table, where we’d quickly go around the table stating one thing before we ate. But it’s never too late to start (or revamp) a family tradition. Here are some great ways to start practicing gratitude this Thanksgiving.

Projects and Crafts

thankful-hand-tree-craft

1. The Thankful Tree. Use construction paper to create a tree to hang on the wall. Trace and cut out family hand prints for leaves. Write on each hand different things for which you are grateful.

Instead of hand prints, you can also cut out leaves. For more decoration, you can use leaves that have been collected from outside as well.

22.finished.turkey

 

2. Thankful Turkey. This can be done in many ways. Create a turkey shape and leaves, either out of construction paper or other materials (Crafts-For-All-Season uses a plate and toilet paper roll). Cut out feathers and write things you are thankful for on each feather.

 

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3. I Am Thankful Chain. This would be a great project to use as decoration for Christmas or Hanukkah. This free printable from The Silver Box is a beautiful design. You can also just cut strips of construction paper and write on them and then link them together.

Actions

1. Start a 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge. This one comes from Crystal Wilkerson and includes daily quotes, activities and journal prompts.

2. Write and send Thank You Notes. For a person who believes so whole-heartedly in gratitude, I am terrible with thank you notes. They seem so obligatory as opposed to authentic. When I read this suggestion I was really inspired. Thank you notes can be written, not just because someone gave you a gift, but rather spontaneously to share gratitude for actions. What a great idea!!

3. Pay if Forward. One of the best things we can do to share our thankfulness in life is to be generous with what we have. If you can, spend time practicing gratitude by volunteering, donating, or even anonymously buying someone’s meal or groceries. It’s a way to say, we can share in the abundance that surrounds us and be grateful for all that we have.

**Don’t forget… practicing gratitude is not meant to be a chore. It can be the best soul food in the world. Make sure to take time to talk with your children not only about what they’re thankful for but also why they are thankful. Enjoy your new family traditions and Happy Thanksgiving!!!**

Links

http://www.babble.com/crafts-activities/10-thankful-thanksgiving-crafts

http://rebeccacalagna.blogspot.com/2010/11/showing-thanks-crafts-for-kids.html