teaching kids thankfulness

Thanksgiving: Teaching Thankfulness to Kids

What you dwell on is expanded in your experience. Daily pauses for gratefulness have paid dividends in my life! How can you teach thankfulness to your children and students? Continue reading as I share my own experience with harnessing thanksgiving and some fun activities to teach your kids too.


Several years ago I participated in a Small Group that studied, “The 4:8 Principle” by Tommy Newberry. The premise of this book is that your thoughts are manifested in your experience. The book looks at Philippians 4:8 as a guide for our thoughts. This scripture has become one of our family’s favorite texts! It reads:


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)


During this book study we discussed all sorts of things that affect your happiness like sleep, diet, thoughts, sunshine etc. One of the exercises that the leader gave us that really stuck out to me was one on gratitude.


The simple challenge was to write down three things that we were thankful for each day, before heading to bed at night. We were to do this for two weeks and then talk about it with the group at the next meeting. This seemed easy enough, so I accepted the task.


The first few nights I remember sitting there and really having to think about what I was thankful for. I would sometimes default to the typical “friends, family and God” answers, which was perfectly fine since they were all true.


However, by the end of the two weeks I found myself actually looking for things during the day that I could write down in my journal. Many nights I far exceeded the three count minimum. I also noticed that I was more joyful and happier! Isn’t it amazing how a simple task, like writing down what you’re thankful for, can change your whole outlook on life?!?!?!


I believe that our hearts were created to be grateful! We so often get stuck in a rut with our thoughts…and that negativity becomes our reality. Imagine the life change that could happen if we were to instill thankfulness in the hearts of children. They could carry that with them for the rest of their lives.


One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the opportunity to share what I’m thankful for with family and friends, around a table of AAAHmazing food. We often take a moment to go around the table and share what we are thankful for from the year. Some years it seems more difficult to find something, but our hearts are always turned towards gratitude and the realization that we have SO MUCH to be thankful for!


My Thankful Heart Daily Journal

thankfulness journal

I thought this would be the perfect time of year to really be intentional about teaching gratitude to our children.  I created this free “My Thankful Heart Daily Journal”  to share with you as a simple way to start.

–> Download: My Thankful Heart Daily Journal Here! <–

You could use it at school and print multiple copies of the pages you want and print one page of the cover per student.  You could also use it at home with your own kids and print the cover and multiple pages of journal page you choose.

The fun thing is you can just stack the cover on top of the inside pages and then cut the pages in half all together.  You then staple the left ends and you have two journals ready to go (you could even use one for yourself).  If you’re using this at home it would be fun to set a time every evening for the family to fill out their journals together and then share their daily thanks with everyone.


“Thankful Heart Craftivity”

thankful heart craftivity

If you’re looking for a fun craftivity to encourage gratitude and thanks, consider this fun “Thankful Heart Craft and Activity” to really make thankfulness tangible. This Thanksgiving unit includes:

-”My Thankful Heart” Title Poster and Original Poem.

-”I’m Thankful For…” Heart Concept Map

-”Give Thanks” Vertical Brainstorm (3 different themes, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Manners)

-”My Heart is Thankful for YOU” Writing Cards

-”My Thankful Heart Craftivity” (includes: instructions, writing prompts w/ 2 different line options, cover cutout, templates to make boy or girl)

–> Get Thankful Heart Craftivity Here! <–


“I’m Thankful for…” Free Journal

I also have this journal prompt mini book “I’m Thankful for…” for FREE on my TpT Store.

–> Free “I’m Thankful for…” Mini-Book <–


My Favorite THANKSgiving Books:

The Thankful Book By Todd Parr

Thanks for Thanksgiving By Julie Markes

It’s Great to be Grateful By Michaelene Miller

I’m Thankful Each Day By P.K. Hallinan (Religious)


THANKSgiving Resources & Ideas

Here are some other resources and activities that look like fun ways to teach thankfulness:

Gratitude and Thankful Tree – Alecia Plus 5

Thankful Turkey Box – I {Heart} Crafty Things

Gratitude Cards – Serving Joyfully

I am Thankful Pumpkin Craft – Moffatt Girls


What do you do to encourage thankfulness and gratitude in the children in your life?  Please comment below to share.

Michaela Peterson

About Shae

Heart Teacher, Daughter of the King, Musician, Teammate, Mommy, Crafter, Adventurer, Kingdom Persuer, Healthy Eater, Gift Giver and Work-in-Progress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *