Here are some simple ideas for you and your family to express gratitude this Thanksgiving.
Gratitude Conversation Starters
Write up some simple conversation starters and put them into a decorative jar (spend time with your kids decorating the jar beforehand). Have everyone randomly pick 1-2 at Thanksgiving dinner to read out loud with one another and share their answers.
What do you like most about Thanksgiving?
Which of the holiday traditions in your life mean the most to you?
What experience in the past year are you most grateful for?
What is something you take for granted each day that you are grateful for?
Look at the person to your right. Tell them why you are grateful for them. (make several versions of this, including "person to your left", and "person across the table").
What job does somebody do that you’re thankful they do?
Which one person (alive or dead) whom you have never met are you thankful existed?
What book are you most grateful that you read?
What act of kindness was done for you recently that you appreciated?
What form of art are you most grateful for? Music? Acting? Writing? Dancing?
What abilities do you have that you are grateful for?
Design your own conversation starters! Customize them to suit your family and enjoy the conversation that flows at the holiday dinner table this year.
Host a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
This game can be done indoors with objects in your home, and it can include the outdoor space attached to, or near your home - you choose the limitations of the space that can be used to gather items. Next, write up a simple list and share it with everyone via paper or if you're a text-savvy family then text the list to everyone.
Examples of things you can include in your gratitude scavenger hunt:
Find something that makes you smile
Find something to make someone else smile.
Find one thing that you love to smell.
Find one thing you enjoy looking at.
Find something that’s your favorite color.
Find something that you are thankful for in nature.
Find something that you can use to make a gift for someone.
Find something that is useful to you.
Create a Gratitude Wall
Decide on a location in the house to put up a Gratitude Wall that you'll be able to easily see from where you'll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.
Put up 2-3 poster boards, a large butcher block sheet of paper, or many smaller sheets of paper taped together to create a block collage with enough room for multiple people to write on.
You want to make this big, so create a lot of writable space to encourage people to write what they're grateful for.
Consider using colored pencils to make it fun and bright, as well as making it easy to clean up if something gets onto the wall.
Ask everyone to write something they are grateful for on the Gratitude Wall each day.
Establish a kindness rule; nothing unkind can go on the Gratitude Wall.
Allow for it to be "anonymous" if possible, so family members have to guess which member wrote it (allow kids to work together, to ask someone to write it for them if they want to remain anonymous).
On Thanksgiving Day take turns reading aloud what everyone is grateful for (and guessing who said what if you chose to try and have an anonymous board).
Write Family Gratitude Letters
Request that everyone in your immediate family write a Gratitude Letter that will be opened and read aloud on Thanksgiving.
Make this a no-pressure situation; grammar, handwriting, and spelling will not be commented on or judged (promise your strict abiding to this rule to make this a safe space for your child to write and share their thoughts).
Establish a minimum number of things they need to express gratitude for. You might ask them to include a set number of things (use a number that's easy for kids to meet, such as 3 or 4), or you might ask them to respond to a prompt to write their letter, such as what one experience this year, what specifically about Thanksgiving, what one ability they possess, and what specifically about their family are they grateful for?
Consider using blank Thank You cards in lieu of plain paper to make it more festive.
Adapt the letter requirements according to your kids and your family's style and preferences. I have always preferred to outline expectations clearly for things like this so my kids aren't overwhelmed trying to think about what they are supposed to say/write.
Give your kids the option to have help with writing it if they are feeling shy about writing (again, this is not about making an English lesson out of this experience, it's about sharing important thoughts with your family).
Create a deadline before Thanksgiving for the letters to be done.
Wrap them in twine and create a special centerpiece in the table for the letters to be deposited, on display. Having them done a few days before Thanksgiving allows your kids to see them on display. These types of formal steps really set the foundation for a family tradition.
Make sure your kids aren't put on the spot to read the letter out loud either. Give them the option to choose someone else to read it aloud for them.
Keep it positive. If your kids' responses aren't exactly what you want to hear, don't be tempted to express disappointment. Keep things positive and light. Find a way to be grateful for their participation in this new tradition. Sometimes kids feel vulnerable expressing themselves and it may not be the easiest thing for them to do the first time they are asked. But if you keep things positive and supportive you'll have a chance at a new tradition being successful as the years go on.
Do you have any Gratitude ideas you want to share with us? Please feel free to use the comments section to share away! We are grateful for our readership and our community. Thank you and Happy Homeschooling, friends!