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Teaching Gratitude to Children Through Art

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Teaching Gratitude to Children Through Art

By Tania Cowling

Thanksgiving is a special time to remember our country’s humble beginnings, a time to gather with family and friends to say, “thank you” for our good fortune. Through these fun activities, children can learn to appreciate the things they have and to give thanks and blessings for a wonderful life.

A Booklet of Gratitude

Thanksgiving offers a great opportunity to take stock of all the good things in our lives. What better way than to create a catalog? Make a simple booklet by having your child glue magazine pictures or snapshots to construction paper. Or the child can use his/her own artwork. Included could be family, food, pets, house, toys, and so on. Don’t make this a project your child does alone. Parents should create their own pages to share with the family.

I’m Thankful Tablecloth

Let the children get involved in holiday preparations by decorating the tablecloth for Thanksgiving dinner. Purchase a paper tablecloth from a party supply store. With crayons and markers, the kids can draw pictures of things they are thankful for and also symbolic pictures of the holiday. For a permanent keepsake, use a white fabric table covering along with fabric crayons or markers. Make sure to follow the package directions to heat-set the decorations. An adult can trace around the children’s hands and mark the date so this cloth will become memorabilia for future Thanksgiving dinners.

Make a Gratitude Garland

Autumn leaves are abundant during November and used in home decorations. Have the children cut leaves from construction paper in fall colors of orange, yellow, red, and brown. Give family members and guests a leaf and invite them to write what they are thankful for on the leaf with a black marker. The children can use tape or a stapler and string these onto a long length of ribbon. This garland can be hung along a staircase, unlit fireplace or on the wall for a decoration of blessings.

A Thankful Turkey

This craft will use your child’s handprints and footprint, which is a nice way to remember their features as the years go by. So to begin, trace around your child’s foot and then trace around each hand onto construction paper. Make the footprint brown for turkey’s body and the handprints in fall colors, that will resemble the turkey’s tail feathers. The children can write things they are thankful for on each finger of the handprint. Cut these pieces out.

To assemble, glue the footprint onto a lunch size paper plate. Behind the plate attach the handprints with the fingers pointing up and showing as the tail feathers. Draw facial features (eyes and waddle) with crayons or markers.

ABC Game of Gratitude

As the family sits around the Thanksgiving dinner table, play this game of gratitude using the alphabet. The first player starts with the letter A, and makes a statement like “I am thankful for apples that are in our apple pie dessert”, then the next person uses B and may say, “I am thankful for my baby brother.” Continue around the table with each person using the next letter. Can you get through the entire alphabet?

Native American Feather Awards for Good Deeds

Native Americans were given feathers for each achievement attained. Your children will love to earn some too. Make a construction paper headband to fit around your child’s head and staple shut. Set up a chore or project list at home. Parents can cut out paper feathers in fall colors. Staple a feather onto your child’s headband for each good deed they have completed. The kids will be proud to wear this headdress of honor!

A Snack of Gratitude

The ingredients of this snack mix has symbols that relate to the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared their blessings together. Mix several cups of each ingredient together in a large bowl to make this snack mix for the family to enjoy.

Bugles (brand) Corn Snack – there are shaped like cornucopias, also called horn of plenty

Knot-shaped Pretzels – these look like arms folded in thanks and prayers

Candy Corn – Pilgrims were only allotted five kernels of corn per day, as food was scarce

Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots) – Thanksgiving is a celebration of the fall harvest

Sunflower or Pumpkin seeds – these represent hope for a bounteous harvest next season

Spend precious time with your children participating in these projects for Thanksgiving. Bonding together is gratitude in itself.

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