Gratitude Activities For Kids | Quality Start

Gratitude Activities For Kids

Before diving into the exciting gratitude activities we have in store for you and your family, offering your kids a definition of what gratitude means to help build this value into their lives in their earliest years is essential.

What Is Gratitude For Kids?

For kids, gratitude is all about the art of being thankful and appreciative of the people, things, and experiences in their lives. It’s about recognizing and expressing the warm feelings of joy and appreciation they feel when someone is kind to them, when they receive something or even when they simply enjoy a beautiful day.

Why Is It Important To Teach Gratitude To Children?

According to the research conducted by The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, teaching gratitude to children yields a range of outcomes and generally, kids are kinder:

Grateful Kids Are More Kind

Grateful children tend to show more empathy and generosity, not just to those who’ve been kind to them but also to strangers. This fosters a more compassionate world.

Grateful Teens Are Happier And Achieve Better Grades

Grateful teens are happier, more satisfied with life, and often perform better academically, with higher GPAs. A generally positive outlook shaped by gratitude can set the stage for a successful future.

Grateful Kids Become Environmental Stewards

The research indicates that teaching gratitude to children instills a deep appreciation for the environment. Grateful children develop a strong connection to nature, leading them to take responsibility for environmental preservation. Gratitude inspires them to become advocates for sustainability and the well-being of our planet.

How to Teach Kids To Be Grateful

Teaching kids gratitude is not only about telling them to say “thank you.” It’s about helping them cultivate a genuine appreciation for the world around them. Engage them in joyful learning experiences to impart this valuable lesson effectively. Here are some tips to instill gratitude in young hearts.

Gratitude Prompts for Kids

One of the most effective ways to encourage gratitude in children is by using gratitude prompts. These prompts are simple questions or activities that prompt kids to think about what they are thankful for and express their feelings of appreciation. 

  • Gratitude Journal: Invite your child to maintain a gratitude diary with you. Each day, ask them three things they are grateful for a hug from a friend, a favorite toy, or a delicious meal, and then write it down in a special book just for them. For older kids, gift them a journal to write their statements.
  • Gratitude Jar: This is an incredibly simple craft that the whole family can participate in. All you need is a large jar or container. Decorate it with any objects you have on hand- tissue paper or construction paper using tape or liquid glue, glitter, crayons or paint. Then have your children and whoever wants to participate write down or draw what they are thankful for or something good that happened. You can choose when to read the notes or drawings, whether you make it a daily or weekly tradition. You can extend the idea of the gratitude jar by sending messages of appreciation to family or friends you might miss getting together with. You can make your own or download blank thank – you notes from PBS SOCAL.  
  • Gratitude Art: Provide art supplies and ask your child to create a piece of art that represents something they are grateful for. It could be a drawing, painting, or even a collage.
  • Storytime Gratitude: During story time, ask your child to share one thing they are grateful for from the day. This can become a special bedtime routine that reinforces gratitude.
  • Gratitude Game: Play a game where you take turns sharing things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as saying, “I’m grateful for sunshine,” or “I’m grateful for the laughter of my family.”
  • Acts of Kindness: Encourage your child to perform acts of kindness, like making a card for a friend or helping with chores around the house. Discuss how these actions make them and others feel grateful.
  • Gratitude Circle: Sit in a circle with family or friends and take turns expressing gratitude. This can be a heartwarming bonding activity.

Using these gratitude activities regularly can help kids develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be grateful and how expressing gratitude can bring joy to their lives.

You can also help your kids understand important values like Diversity and Inclusion. These concepts can make them even better at showing gratitude to their peers.

Gratitude Activities For Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’ve lined up a few crafts and festive activities to embrace this particular time of year. Try your hand -literally- at an autumn handprint tree. Gather up a few supplies and give the Autumn Handprint Tree from our friends at the Institute for Child Development at Cal State University a try. As you go, carry on a brain-building conversation about your actions.

Teaching kids gratitude.You will need:

  • Sheet of paper
  • Paint- red, yellow, blue, black and white
  • Q-tips or paint brushes

To complete:

  • Make the shape of the tree by tracing an outline around your child’s hand and arm using a pencil.
  • Paint the newly created tree brown. You can also trace the arm outline on brown construction paper. If you use brown paper, cut the shape out and tape or glue it to a white piece of paper so the leaf colors can pop.
  • Experiment with the primary paint to create fall colors like red, yellow, orange and brown.
    • Brain-building tip: Talk out loud while mixing the colors about how much of each you need to make a new color. For example, how much red and yellow do you need to make orange? Mixing paints to create colors is a great way to practice problem-solving skills through trial and error.
  • Dip a Q-tip or fingertip in the paint colors and make dots around the tree to mimic leaves. Get creative by layering the dots and colors.
  • Let your creations dry then display them on the wall, window, or refrigerator.

Books About Gratitude

If you want to deep dive with your preschool age child about gratitude, check out these classic books. If you don’t have a physical copy, that is ok! You can follow along as they’re read aloud online.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Click to hear the story read aloud from Storybook Time

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? By Dr. Seuss. Find it here on YouTube.

Gracias Thanks by Pat Moira. Click here for a summary, comprehension strategy and activity to accompany this bilingual read.

Gratitude Activities For You

In between the crafts, cooking, and celebration, make sure to practice stress-busting strategies for yourself. The California Surgeon General created a stress-relief playbook, including self-care templates. The holiday season is a great time to start implementing a plan for yourself. The first step is an awareness of how you’re feeling and if there are any physical symptoms. Next, personalize a realistic plan that incorporates the six categories for stress management: relationships, exercise, sleep, nutrition, mental and behavioral health support, and mindfulness. Read on for more information and available support services. For local San Bernardino County support services and holiday resources, visit 211.

If you would like even more crafts, like homemade pumpkin playdough, and treat ideas, including easy crockpot apple sauce, click here!

Happy crafting and happy Thanksgiving from all of us at QSSB!


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