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Keeping a gratitude journal is the backbone of gratitude scientific research. Anytime you read about gratitude, you will be asked to write down five points you are thankful for that day or week on an ongoing basis. Over time, you will begin to experience the benefits of gratitude such as stress reduction and optimism.
I tried the traditional journal approach when I first learned about gratitude and it did not work for me. I found it repetitive and boring, to be perfectly blunt. This is why I started my nightly ritual of the gratitude prayer with my children. That works for us, but each family needs to discover what is most effective for them. Plus, you don’t want it to become an annoying chore–it is supposed to make you happier after all!
Here are some ideas for fun, creative gratitude journals using a variety of media. As technology changes and our children learn more about what they can do with computers, iPads, and iPhones, we should show them how to use these tools for something positive–for making them feel better.
- Blog: My son just starting getting writing assignments in second grade using a student blog site. He loves seeing his words online and gets so excited when classmates comment on his posts. Why not set up a family gratitude journal blog (password protected, of course)? You can even involve grandparents and cousins, no matter how far they live. You could introduce this idea at the Thanksgiving table and challenge everyone to submit a post each week throughout the year.
- Audio Recording: Children love to hear their own voices. You can have them record their 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 it to music and create a song or rap using highlights of what they said.
- Videos: Children also love watching videos of themselves. My daughter can spend hours watching herself on my phone. They will have a blast talking about what they are thankful for and watching it over and over. Maybe 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.
- Drawings: For children who are more visual or artistic, ask them to draw or paint what they are thankful for at the time. You can then put the artwork together in a book organized by month or year. Create your own handmade journal or take pictures and use Snapfish or an online slideshow to present the images.
- Collage: Looking for pictures in magazines or online to build a gratitude collage is a fun family project. And no artistic talent required! All that cutting is also a great way for your child to build fine motor skills.
I hope you enjoy saying thank you with your children in these innovative ways. You can mix and match these media as well, such as posting videos on your gratitude blog. Before you get started, I recommend you read some very helpful tips about gratitude journals from the Greater Good Science Center.
Please share your experiences so we can all learn from each other. Have fun!