Thanksgiving is just a few days away. If your family is like most, gratitude is one of the themes for the day…at least during the prayer for the meal. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is quickly followed by a season that is characterized more by greed than gratitude. Once your kids are in that mindset, it can be tough to remind them to be grateful.
There are some fun activities you can do all year that can remind your kids to be grateful daily and not just on Thanksgiving. Here are some of our favorites.
- Grab a large clear container (preferably unbreakable). Place it somewhere where everyone will see it at least a couple of times a day. Beside it, place slips of paper and a pen. If you have pre-writers, you may want to make the slips of paper a bit larger and place markers or crayons next to it. Encourage everyone in your family to write or draw something to be thankful for at least once a day and place it in the jar. To get everyone in the habit, for the first couple of weeks you might want to have a time each evening when you share a Bible verse and each add your entry for the day. Then periodically have a blessings time. Pull out all of the slips and read what people wrote or drew. Then have a prayer of thanksgiving.
- Throughout history there are stories of people whose lives were saved or changed forever by an ear of corn, a crust of bread or an encouraging word. Periodically pop some popcorn or bake some bread. As you are enjoying the treat, take turns sharing the ways people have blessed you by helping or encouraging you in some way. Make the time even more special by writing a note or making a thank you treat for some of the people you mention.
- Draw a five by five grid on a piece of paper. Each square should be large enough to write or draw something in it. You will need at least one copy for each person playing the game. Usually, kids love this game, so be prepared to make more grids! Make a set of slips of paper, each having a letter of the alphabet on it. If you have young children, you may want to leave out letters like “q”, “x” and “a”. On another set of slips of paper write categories of items for which you can be grateful like food, clothing, places, etc. If you have older children, you can make it more challenging by adding categories like books of the Bible, people in the Bible, adventures, books, etc. Start by pulling five letter slips. Everyone should write one letter beside each square going down the left side of the grid. Then pull five category slips. They should each go above a square across the top of the grid. When you say “go”, everyone starts completing the grid as quickly as possible. So if the first letter were “c” and the category, “food”, someone might write “cucumber” in the square where the two intersect. Set a time limit…slower for the first round, then shorter as you need to make it more difficult. Have everyone add up their answers and check the answers of the winner. Encourage trying to improve each person’s individual score more than focusing on who had the most correct answers each time.
Doing fun things to encourage gratitude all year, should lessen greed and entitlement as it increases gratitude. It’s a great way to spend regular family time together.