Thanksgiving is the time of year that we turn our thoughts inward to focus on gratitude. As a mother I want my kids to understand and learn to express gratitude. Gratitude is a skill that we learn with practice. That is why I love to take time during the month of November and help my kids practice gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal isn’t really exciting for my young and rambunctious kids. But a gratitude tree is! This Thanksgiving craft is a fun way to help your kids practice gratitude.
Benefits of cultivating thankfulness
Cultivating gratitude means focusing on the good things in our lives. It also means pausing long enough to be thankful for what you have. It is so easy to ignore some of the most basic things in our lives that make our lives better.
Helping your kids to develop the skill of gratitude will benefit them throughout their lives. Every night at dinner we take turns telling the family about the best thing that happened that day. Sometimes, that question is tough for my kids to answer. There are even days it’s tough for me to pick out the best part of my day. But we practice because gratitude makes us happier. Research shows that practicing gratitude can:
- Improve mental health.
- Help you sleep better
- Improve your self esteem
- Improve physical health
- Improve relationships
- Increase our emotional intelligence
- Improve your emotional resilience
I don’t know about you, but when I look at a list like that, it helps me to realize that grateful kids are happy kids. I like to tell my kids that you see what you are looking for. If you are looking for the good, that is what you’ll see.
Gratitude tree craft instructions
This little craft was so fun for our family. You’ll need something to write with, scissors, and glue or tape. Here’s some instructions to get you started.
- Snag this free printable. It includes the tree and leaves. Just print and go! It’s so easy!
- Once you have your tree and leaves printed, go ahead and fill out those leaves. We had a big brainstorming session together as a family. Some of my kid’s ideas really surprised me. We had a lot of fun talking about our blessings and the good things in our lives. You could also let older kids work on this independently if they prefer. I’ve listed some gratitude ideas below if you are struggling to get going.
- Cut out the leaves.
- Use a glue stick or tape to attach the leaves to your gratitude tree.
- Add names and display those gratitude trees! We hung ours up in a spot where we could see them for the next few weeks.
From start to finish it took my family less than an hour to finish their gratitude trees. Most of the time we spent helping kindergartners spell words. But my eight-year-old was done in less than half an hour so your family might finish a lot sooner if you have older kids.
I’ve included a short list of things your kids might want to include on their gratitude tree. Although this isn’t a comprehensive list, it can help you get started.
- Favorite activities
- Favorite foods
- Movies or books
- Fun experiences
- Good health
Gratitude Tree Alternatives
This little gratitude tree craft isn’t the only way to help your kids feel gratitude this season. There are many types of gratitude crafts and trees. I’ll include a few below in case you would like to try something different.
- Skip the paper tree. Find a few twigs from your yard and put them in a vase. Print the leaves from this free printable and write down what you are grateful for. Then attach the leaves to the twigs with ribbon or string.
- Draw gratitude hand turkeys. We’ve done this with our kids in years past and my kids love it. Basically, you outline your child’s hand on a piece of paper. On each of the fingers have them write something they are grateful for. On the thumb you draw a turkey face. Decorate and display. It’s a super simple way to get your kids thinking. I also love seeing the tiny handprints of my kids.
Although I love keeping a gratitude journal, my kids need more interactive ways to get thinking about gratitude. This easy gratitude tree did the trick for us this year! Try it out and let me know how it goes.