Talking About Lesson Building

Fun After-School Activities to Inspire Gratitude in Children

Thanksgiving is an autumn holiday that kids look forward to for many reasons, including four days off from school. They get to play and enjoy the company of loved ones that they don't get to see every day. Your children have many things to be thankful for throughout the season, and there is no need to wait until Thanksgiving to focus on gratitude. Your children will likely talk about what they're thankful for at school during Thanksgiving celebrations or lessons, and you, too, can use the following after-school activities to inspire kids to be grateful all throughout the season.

Activity #1: Make Gratitude Coloring Cards

As adult coloring books are becoming more and more popular, show your child how to create their own coloring cards. Show your children how to follow these instructions:

  1. Start with a blank sheet of paper. Place it on a flat surface in front of you.
  2. Fold the piece of paper in half.
  3. Turn the folder piece of paper so that the longest side is vertical, allowing you to open up the sheet of paper like a traditional greeting card.
  4. Choose something for your child to draw on the front that will allow the recipient to color in the drawing. Help them with the drawing as needed.
  5. Instruct your child to write the thank you letter inside the handmade card. It can be brief, but make sure that your child is specific about why they are grateful. You may also have them include a note about how the recipient can color the front of the card.

Writing thank you notes can be a lot of fun for children, and it can remind them of something that made them happy. Taking the time to draw the note can help accentuate their thoughts of gratitude and allow time for you to discuss how important it is to be thankful for things that they are given.

Activity #2: Play the "Without" Game

Start this game by telling your children about how sad you would be if you didn't have something in your life. You don't want to get too heavy with this scenario unless your children are not responding well to the concept of gratitude. While driving home from school, you can start the game, by talking a bit about how sad your life would be without that chosen thing, and then ask your kids, "Without (specific thing they love), what would your life be like?"

As a follow-up to this game, you may then ask your children to make a list of things that they can do to show their appreciation for the things in their life that they identified as important.

Finally, keep in mind that gratitude is a feeling that children need to be genuinely inspired to feel. While you cannot force someone to be thankful, those feelings of gratitude are likely to naturally come up in children when you help open their eyes and deepen their awareness about all the lovely things they have in their lives.