Editor's note: This article was originally published on Amy Engberson's blog, Little Dairy on the Prairie. It has been republished here with permission.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the extra chance to literally count my blessings! I'm also grateful for the chance to teach my kids about gratitude. I think it is such an important trait for them, and all of us, to develop. Being grateful helps us realize the blessings that we do have, and that we truly are blessed. It also helps us recognize the wonderful things that other people do for us. The words "Thank You" make me smile!
I try to teach my boys gratitude all throughout the year. Especially at Thanksgiving, we try to practice being grateful. Here is a list of simple activities to help families realize what they have to be thankful for.
1. A-Z Blessings
It's the alphabet game. Write something for every letter of the alphabet, all the way from A-Z, that you are thankful for.
2. Gratitude Conversation Starter Questions
Write questions on a piece of paper. A leaf or turkey cut out would be cute. Set them somewhere in your tablescape. You could tuck them in with the napkins at each place setting or under each plate. Take turns answering the questions during Thanksgiving Dinner. Questions could include things like: What event during this past year are you most thankful for? Who has most influenced your life for good this year? Why? If you could give any one thing to someone you love what would it be? Why? What part of school are you most thankful for? Questions can be adjusted for different ages.
3. Gratitude Pictionary or Charades
Each person takes turns drawing or acting out what they are most thankful for.
4. Make Believe
Pretend that you are stranded on an island and knew you could never get off. What three things would you take with you? Typically these things are usually the most dear to us.
5. Gratitude Hand Turkey
Have little kids draw a turkey using a hand as the outline. Write one thing the kids are thankful for on each feather.
6. Gratitude Turkey
Have the kids draw a tree, or cut a small branch from a tree in your yard. Cut leaves out of paper and write what you are grateful for on them and fill the tree with leaves.
7. Thank You Notes
We go through thank you notes at our house by the dozens. It is an easy way for kids to express gratitude to others for their many kindnesses. People are always doing nice things for us, so we are always writing thank you's. Children can write to Moms or Dads. Moms and Dads can write to children. Neighbors love knowing they are appreciated. The mailman likes to be appreciated and so does the bus driver. School teachers need to be thanked more often than just on teacher appreciation day. Even you waitress would love to get a thank you note. Be creative! I bet you have lots of people you could thank too!