November is a month we get to focus on being thankful. The month of November is an especially good time to gear our kids towards an attitude of gratefulness since the month of excess is just around the corner! I have found hands-on activities help my kids to focus on the moment and bring us together as a family.
I have done a lot of gratitude activities over the years and these are my top 5 favorites. I picked them as my top 5 favorites because they are simple and easy, not a lot of extra materials needed. In fact, you probably have most of it lying around the house. I am not a craft person, so if a craft is detailed or requires a lot of extra materials, I won’t do it. You can fit these activities into almost any schedule, and they can be tailored for the most novice craft mom to the all-out Pinterest perfection version.
We typically think of a pumpkin as a Halloween decoration, but they make great general fall decorations as well. You might have one around from Halloween or you can pick one up at a local grocery store. We only use one pumpkin that we place in the middle of our table, then go around and let each family member write what they are thankful for all over the pumpkin. I let the kids write it on the pumpkin themselves, but I have seen somewhere the parent writes what the kids say and makes the pumpkin look more cohesive. Whichever you prefer.
- Construction Paper
- (Optional) Pre-made fake leaves from the dollar store
There are many ways you can do a Thankful Tree; in my effort to keep things inexpensive and simple, we make a large tree that goes on the wall out of construction paper. I typically make the tree trunk, limbs and leaves ahead of time and tape the trunk and limbs to the wall. Give each child a few pre-made leaves (hack: I have found fake leaves at the dollar store if you do not want to cut and make them from construction paper). Have the kids write out what they are thankful for and tape it to the tree.
Thank You Notes
- Ready-made Thank You Notes or Construction Paper to make your own
- Pens, Markers, Crayons, Stickers, Stamps (whatever they want to personalize the notes)
Thank you notes, a lost art, is as simple as it sounds. I have the kids pick a minimum of three people each to write a thank you note for. They pick a person who has been especially involved in their life or done something meaningful for them over the last year. It can be a grandparent, neighbor, teacher, friend’s mom, coach… endless possibilities. As long as the thank you message makes it in the note, I let them be as creative as they would like with their note.
Baking Cookies for the Neighbors
Materials: cookies (homemade or the oven ready kind)
This may not seem like a craft that gets the kids thinking about all they are grateful for, but it gets them doing something for someone else. The idea is to have them focus on the neighbors and not themselves. We bake the cookies, place on separate disposable plates and the kids deliver them to the neighbors within walking distance from our house, on our block. Of all our November activities, they love this one the most. There is something special about making someone smile to a plate full of warm cookies delivered by overly excited kids! The bonus is getting to know our neighbors!
Dinner Time Grateful “Game”
Materials: nothing (except your family gathered around a meal)
This activity is so simple, with no materials necessary. Gather your family around for dinner or any other meal and have each person take a turn saying what they are thankful for about the other people present. Everyone gets a turn, and everyone must say at least one thing about each person. My own dad used to make us play this “game” at dinner. Sometimes my kids grumble about the game when we start, but after a while, they really get into it and it diverts into a fun memory fest as they recall moments and memories that made them laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
Keep it simple, no need to stress yourself in an already busy season. The idea of the grateful activities is to teach our kids to be thankful for what they have and mindful of people outside of themselves. I believe gratitude is essential to living a joy-filled life. Some people come by gratitude naturally, for others, it is more of a mindful practice cultivated over time. No matter where you land in your grateful journey, November is a great month for us all to focus more on being thankful.