According to numerous scientific studies, gratitude is one of the most important ways for us to get a happiness boost and provides us with so many wonderful psychological, physical, and interpersonal benefits. It improves our health, reduces stress, and helps us focus on the positive. Stepping back and being thankful for what we have gives us energy, inspires us, and transforms us. It helps us realize that life is truly a gift.
Keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to increase our sense of happiness by forcing us to acknowledge the positive moments in our day, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Whether it is a smile from a stranger, a good grade on a test, a gift from a relative, or an awe-inspiring sunset, we begin to feel calmer and more joyful by appreciating these experiences.
Our children can greatly benefit from expressing gratitude, but it’s important that we keep it fun for them. Here is a list of 15 creative ways for your children to express gratitude throughout the year. Most of these activities are do-it-yourself projects that will be fun for the whole family.
- Alphabet Gratitude Game: Inspired by my daughter learning her letters last year, I developed this game as a simple exercise for my children to say what they are thankful for using each letter of the alphabet.
- Gratitude Blog: Children love seeing their words online–especially when mom is a blogger. You can set up a family gratitude journal blog (password protected, of course). You can even involve grandparents and cousins, no matter how far away they live. Challenge everyone to submit a post each week throughout the year.
- Gratitude Yoga Sequence: Children’s yoga has become so popular over the past few years, popping up in schools, camps, and sports facilities all over. Kids love doing yoga, and it offers so many positive health benefits such as calming their bodies and minds. Kids Yoga Stories wrote an adorable Gratitude Yoga Sequence that includes 20 yoga poses and correlating expressions of gratitude.
- Family Gratitude Tree: Creating a gratitude tree is a way to present everyone’s gratitude notes in a friendly way. Here is a second idea that uses real branches.
- Picture Frame Dry Erase Board: This is a very clever way to show what we are thankful for. Because it is a dry erase board, your children can use it over and over again, updating it with their new gratitude moments.
- Thank You Videos: Children enjoy watching videos of themselves. They will have a blast talking about what they are thankful for and watching it as much as they want. You can have them pretend to be reporters and their gratitude is the news of the day or they can act out scenes from the wonderful moments they had.
- Gratitude Scavenger Hunt: What a fun way to talk about gratefulness! You can print out a free downloadable list to guide you on your gratitude scavenger hunt. To capture the moment, take pictures and then print them out and have your children make a collage.
- Gratitude Vision Board: Similar to a goal setting vision board, this is a way for children to express what they are grateful for.
- Wheel Of Thankfulness: Wheel of Fortune? No, try making a wheel of thankfulness where your children can add what they appreciate.
- Thank You Bank: I love this idea. This decorative hanging jar holds your kids’ gratitude notes all year long. By hanging it up in your home where everyone can see, they will be reminded to say thank you everyday.
- Gratitude Mobile: This is a simple way to display your gratitude notes; you can also use a hanger to create your mobile.
- Say Thanks Recordings: Record your children’s gratitude journal on a phone or iPad. Once you have the recordings, you can get really creative by posting them online for others to listen to or you can even put the words to music and create a song or rap using highlights of what they said. For gratitude song inspiration, check out the Gratitude and Kindness collection by Happy Kids Songs.
- Thankful Wind Spinners: These paper spirals look easy to make and are a wonderful way to showcase your gratitude list. The kids will enjoy watching it spin around in the wind outside.
- Thankful Book. Learn how to put together a gratitude journal using your own photographs. Although this project is geared toward toddlers, it can be easily be adapted to fit any age by having them write their own thank you notes and possibly even drawing their own pictures.
- Thanksgiving Gratitude Turkey. This adorable craft is simple and perfect for younger children. It will make a great centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.
Which of these projects will you try with your children?