Gratitude should be natural for kids being raised in Christian homes. Unfortunately, even young children can get caught up in wanting what they want immediately and exactly how they want it. When they can’t have everything they want immediately, their thoughts can quickly turn from gratitude to grumbling. And the grumblings of an unhappy child could give the Israelites in the Old Testament some serious competition!
The problem with activities meant to create a heart filled of gratitude in your kids is that they can sometimes begin to feel like a laundry list of the things they know they “should” be grateful for, rather than a true reflection of their hearts. Why not add a few twists and create a game that makes them think a little deeper about why they should be grateful to God for all of those standard blessings on the list.
You can structure this game to be played on a game board or for older kids get them to design a format and rules for the game. Regardless of the framework of the game, it should consist of two aspects. The first aspect of the game should include a long list of items for which we all know we should be grateful, like a home, clothes, food, family, friends, etc. These will be the “cards” (or whatever) that players pull as the first part of their turn.
The second aspect is a set of questions designed to get players to dig a little deeper. For example, one question might be “Why should we be grateful for the blessing card you pulled?” Other ideas might include, “What would my life be like if I didn’t have this blessing?” “How do I know this is a blessing from God?” “What is a similar blessing for which I am thankful?” “Why do I sometimes fail to be truly grateful for this blessing?” “What would you tell God is the reason you are grateful for this blessing?”
Obviously, the older your kids are, the more difficult you or your kids can make these questions. You probably won’t be able to think of as many questions as you have things for which to be grateful, so you will need enough multiples of these cards to match the number of blessing cards you have created. Players will pull a second card from this pile and use the blessing they pulled as part of the answer to the question card. So, for example, if I pulled “siblings” from the first pile and “Why should I be grateful for the blessing card you pulled” from the second pile, I would need to tell why I should be grateful for my siblings.
Other players can force the person answering to give a better answer if the one they give is a tepid one. Have fun with it, but use the opportunity to focus not as much on naming random things as really appreciating why you and your kids are truly grateful for those blessings from God. It may just encourage your kids to be more authentically grateful in their daily lives.