Looking for a quick and easy lesson on expressing thanks for your child? Try making your own gratitude cards and encourage them to show thanks to those around them!
Raising kids that are grateful doesn’t happen by accident. As much as we want to believe our little ones are naturally thoughtful, considerate, and giving… the reality is we need to first TEACH them these skills. The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on what we are thankful for and to find ways to show little tokens of our appreciation.
One way that my kids and I like to show our appreciation is to make gratitude cards. It’s so endearing to watch them sit and think about who positively impacts their life. And of course they love letting their creativity shine when putting the cards together!
Who to Make a Gratitude Card For
The main purpose of this activity is to encourage kids to be thankful for the people in their life. When considering who that includes, they will most likely think first of parents, siblings, grandparents, maybe a close friend, etc. However, the real lesson comes in going deeper.
It’s easy and usually obvious to see that our immediate family and close friends are special to us, but there are SO many others who impact our lives that get overlooked! Pointing these people out to our children helps them to gain a new appreciation for how blessed they are.
So who are these people? Some of the people we have thought of are:
- Mail person
- Garbage collectors
- UPS/FedEx Drivers
- Local librarian
- Grocery store clerks
- Local farmers
- Waiters/waitresses at a favorite restaurant
- Pediatrician and nurses
- Local first responders: police, firefighters, and EMTs
- The military
- Pastor and church family
- Town maintenance workers
- Your and/or your spouse’s employers
- Local government
- Favorite bands/worship team
As you build your list, have your children think about why they are grateful for each person/group. Without thinking of the “why”, they could just list people they come into contact with. Honestly, this isn’t just for the kids. We need the reminder to go deeper with our gratitude as well! Expressing thanks is important for mom and dad, too.
When we first started doing these gratitude exercises, I found that sometimes I would be guilty of just trying to think of people in our outer circle, and our outer-outer circle, to make a longer list. See how grateful we are? Our list is huge! To really appreciate each member’s role in society, it is very helpful to actually say what they do that is appreciated.
This can also be a great conversation-starter and lead to the realization of more people to be thankful for. For example, when considering food, you could point out that the grocery workers kindly place all the food in the rows for us to find, and the cashiers help us pay for it to take home. That easily leads to a further discussion on how we are thankful for the farmers who grow or raise our food in the first place!
The Ultimate One Deserving of Our Gratitude
Perhaps you already noticed Him missing from the list. We have so many people in our lives to be thankful for, but the one who is truly deserving of our gratitude is Jesus.
Without His sacrifice, love, and teachings… well all the rest would just be meaningless, wouldn’t it?
I encourage you to set aside time during the activity to focus on what Jesus has done that is worthy of our expressing thanks and praise. (Hint: it’s a LOT!) The same way the farmer’s contributions may not spring to mind right away, there are so many good things about Jesus that may not seem obvious to a little one at first.
Trust me, watching their minds go deeper into thankfulness for the Lord is something you’ll want to experience.
Making the Gratitude Cards
This part, like all the rest, is very flexible and meant for creative interpretation! Once your kids have their gratitude list, they can start making thank you cards for each person they want to show appreciation to. Draw pictures, write some sweet words, and maybe add a sticker here or there.
This will be the first year that my daughter can actually write a letter to someone (with help). When we’ve made these in the past, I printed out a beautiful little line of thanks or encouragement to glue inside of the card. Then on the opposite side, as well as the front and back covers, she was able to draw whatever she wanted for them. I will often “caption” her pictures to explain to the receiver what she drew, in her own words.
We make a card for Jesus, too!
Seeing my daughter draw little pictures of her holding hands with Jesus is seriously one the biggest tear-jerkers I’ve had yet as a parent. You may not be able to physically give that one away, but you’ll love having it to cherish for years to come!
To make the card-making part easier, or to help with little ones who can’t write just yet, I’ve created several pages of gratitude cards for you to print out. Some are more specific for a person’s role in your life, while others are more of a general thanks. If your child uses these instead of writing their own, they can choose who gets each card themselves.
You can get the gratitude card printables that help you in expressing thanks by leaving your name & email. We’ll zip it on over to your inbox.
Spreading Gratitude to Others
Once you have your cards made up, give them away! This part’s joy is two-fold. Your child has a deeper understanding of who positively impacts their life, and they get to spread the joy to others as well. The activity comes full circle when they see what a positive impact THEY have on OTHER people’s lives!
To keep the lesson of expressing thanks going for the rest of the year, we recently started reflecting in a gratitude journal each night. It takes the lessons learned from this activity, and brings it to day-to-day life! Finding ways to continually be mindful of the blessings in life is a great way to raise loving and appreciative kids.
About the Author:
Christine is the mama behind The Growing Creatives, where she shares crafts/learning activities for kids, as well as creative parenting ideas. She loves encouraging her kids to grow their imagination, and hopes to inspire other parents to do the same! Find her on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest!
NOTE: Not all views from guest bloggers are the views of Kerry Beck or How to Homeschool My Child.