We all want our kids to experience the peace and contentment that comes from being a grateful person. That’s why I put together this round up of wonderful gratitude activities for kids!
Whether you’re looking for service based gratitude activities for kids, creative ideas, relationship building activities, classroom materials or children’s books about gratitude, I’ve tried to include it all!
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Service-Based Gratitude Activities for Kids
I wrote an entire post about how you can help an ungrateful child grow in gratitude and grace. One way is by helping them experience the joy of serving other people. When kids serve others who might be less fortunate than them, or focus on random acts of kindness, they become less selfish. Selflessness and thankfulness go together like peanut butter and jelly.
As adults, most of us tend to lecture our kids, and as satisfying as it may be, it doesn’t work very well. Experiences and action translate much better.
Here are some of my favorite service based gratitude activities for kids.
- Serve at a soup kitchen or food pantry – Bring an awareness to your child about hunger in your community. This website will help you identify your closest food bank, and you can click to their website or call about serving opportunities. You can also search Google for “soup kitchen near me.” Most are thrilled to have fresh faces learn about their ministries.
- Make no-sew blankets for your homeless community – here’s a great tutorial. This is a great activity for middle to upper elementary and older kids. You’ll have fun picking out fleece together at your local crafts store, too.
- Random Acts of Kindness Bingo – See image below 🙂 The Many Little Joys has a great post about Random Acts of Kindness Bingo, which includes a printable. I also love her perspective on Thanksgiving and felt inspired by her attitude toward helping her kids be more giving.
- Teach your kids about Kiva.org and Lend Together – I love including older kids and teenagers in micro-lending. You can choose a recipient together on Kiva and then do chores to earn money for your giving challenge. Kids will learn about how people around the world work hard to earn their money, and it will make them grateful for what their material possessions. They’ll also be proud to help someone out.
- Gather high quality clothes and toys for donation, or look to serve in a local clothes closet. It’s great for kids to reflect on toys and clothes they haven’t used very much, and consider how others might benefit from them. Bonus! Doing this in the month of November will give you the chance to pare down before the holiday season.
Creative Gratitude Activities for Kids
Some kids tap into their best selves when their creative switch is turned on. Here are my favorite creative gratitude activities for kids.
- Creating writing with special Thanksgiving paper – this one is especially great for all the teachers out there. If you want to encourage free writing about thankfulness, these freebie printable papers (lined for elementary school writers) should do the trick.
- Create your own unique gratitude journal – I love the idea of starting a gratitude journal on November 1st and hopefully carrying the practice into the new year. One way to get kids invested is to have them design their own covers for their gratitude journals. A simple black and white composition book purchased in the school supply department is a great start. Then, you can decorate it however you like; I especially love these DIY fabric covered journals.
- Gratitude Vision Board – Vision boards are a wonderful creative outlet. You can purchase a few posters for next to nothing, and then use your printer and internet or magazines and scissors to glue down all the things that make your kids feel grateful.
- Peaceful Nature Walk – For many of us, there’s nothing more relaxing than a nature walk on a crisp fall day. It always fills my heart with both wonder and thankfulness to just amble through the woods or beside a creek. Try to stay mostly quiet with older kids, to leave them alone with their thoughts.
- Photography Scavenger Hunt – This activity was always popular when I led our small, Methodist youth group. We did it at Christmas time while driving around looking at lights. However, this activity is easily adapted to any purpose. You can send your kids of any age to take special pictures of the things that make them feel grateful. Give them a long list of inspirational ideas to get them motivated: a favorite teacher, a beautiful flower, a close up of the texture on their favorite blanket. Share one picture at dinner time every night of November. Celebrate every idea, but also take note of any creative talent that is displayed in the photos.
- Nature Canvas – First, take a nature walk. Use a bucket, fanny pack, or back pack to collect interesting sticks, leaves, flower petals or anything else that catches the eye. Paint a canvas any chosen color. Use any heavy duty glue to attach the objects to a canvas in an interesting arrangement.
- Gratitude Drawing Prompts – As a writing teacher, I don’t often think of “drawing prompts,” but I do love the idea of sparking gratitude by asking kids to draw in response to a question about thankfulness. I may try it, too!
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Relationship Building Gratitude Activities for Kids
Thankfulness is often best experienced with the people we love. Here are some of my favorite relationship-building gratitude activities for kids.
- Family Gratitude Pumpkin – I can’t get enough of this gratitude pumpkin. In fact, I’ve written about it in at least two other posts: here and here!
- Family Gratitude Wall – This can take so many different forms, and there’s no wrong way to go! You can provide blank index cards and colored pencils, which can be posted on a bulletin board in a central location in your house. You can also just use a whiteboard and colorful Expo markers in your home. No matter how you execute your family’s gratitude wall, you’ll have dozens of colorful, sweet sentiments of thankfulness piling up in no time.
- M&M Gratitude Game – This one is so fun. Kara Creates has a free printable you can use. All you need to add is a bag of M&Ms and some family, students, a youth group or friends. Basically, each M&M color corresponds to a gratitude prompt, such as “Name a skill you are grateful for.” You’ll go around the circle, choosing one M&M at a time.
- Frequent Thank You Notes – This isn’t so much an activity as it is an ongoing practice. I know that thank you notes are becoming a thing of the past, but it makes me sad. Do I love making time to write 30 thank you cards at once? No, I do not. And sometimes, if I’m really in a pinch, I’ll settle for a thank you text to someone I know will understand, especially if I’ve let a bit of time pass by. That said, I do require my oldest child (age 7) to make Thank You cards after every birthday. It’s a healthy way to recognize the kindnesses of others. It takes a bit of discipline, and that’s not a bad thing.
- Gratitude Pick Up Sticks – This is similar to the M&M game! You get a free printable by subscribing. All you need is a can of pick-up sticks, the printable, and some kids to entertain and educate!
- Complete a “Gratitude Garland” Together – If you need to spend some time thinking about thankfulness AND you wouldn’t mind some homespun home decor, this is a great activity for you.
- Create a DIY Gratitude Tablecloth Together – See image below. This is an absolutely adorable idea that works for friends and family of all ages. Read more at Boulder Locavore.
- Refocus your entire holiday season away from commercialism and toward memory making. We can all get carried away during the holidays and over-buy, over-plan and over-EVERYTHING. What if instead, we just had a sweet little talk with our children about Christmas expectations, and put that same energy toward creating memories instead? Baking, movie nights, card games and great conversation?
Children’s Books about Gratitude
Some kids learn best through books! Sweet little picture books can be a wonderful way to share messages with your child without being the one to do the preaching.
Gratitude Activities for Elementary Students – A Free Worksheet!
Here’s a worksheet you can use as a filler activity in the month of November. There are two versions – a full color and black and white copy.Gratitude-Worksheet
I hope you found some gratitude activities for kids you can actually USE this November – or whenever!