Practicing Thankfulness This Season

And, just like that, the holiday season is here! With Thanksgiving just about a week away, we’ve lined up a few crafts and festive activities to embrace this special time of year. Try your hand -literally- at an autumn handprint tree, work together with your family to make and fill up a thankful jar, and teach the powerful message of gratitude with a few book suggestions. It is also important to take care of yourself as this time, we have information on how to do that as well.

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 what you are doing.

You will need:

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

To complete:

  • Trace an outline around your child’s hand and arm using a pencil to make the shape of the tree.
  • 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? The act of 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.

Practice Gratitude

This is an incredibly simple craft that the whole family can participate in- a gratitude jar! All you need is a large jar or container. Decorate it with any objects you have on hand- tissue paper, 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 look at the notes or you can wait and read them, and decipher the drawings, together on Thanksgiving Day.

If you want to deep dive with your preschool age child about the topic of 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.

With social distancing guidelines in place, our holidays may look very different this year. You can extend the idea of the gratitude jar by sending notes of appreciation to family or friends that you might miss getting together with. You can make your own or download blank thank you notes from PBS SOCAL. Have your kids write or draw the reason they are thankful for a specific person- grandma, aunt, best friend- and send it in the mail to brighten their day.

For you

In between the crafts, cooking, and celebration, make sure to practice stress-busting strategies for yourself. The California Surgeon General created a playbook for stress-relief during Covid-19 which includes self-care templates. The holiday season plus Covid-19 is a great time to start implementing a plan for yourself. The first step is awareness, identifying how you personally feel stress and if are there 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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