Every Autumn, families everywhere put gratitude and thankfulness at the forefront of their minds. After all, it seems only natural that lessons on gratitude should precede a holiday season filled with gift-giving, and this is especially the case for families enjoying Thanksgiving with kids. This year, in an effort to enforce a daily spirit of thankfulness, our family tried a new gratitude activity – kid-friendly thankful pumpkins – and we had a marvelous time!
A few years ago, I was scrolling through social media (maybe it was Facebook, maybe it was Pinterest – I honestly can’t remember) and I came across this beautiful pumpkin picture. On the pumpkin, there were words written in neat and tiny handwriting detailing all of the things a particular family was grateful for. The words scrolled around the pumpkin in a perfect spiral and the whole thing was just picturesque.
I have been wanting to try that fun thankful pumpkin activity ever since, but I’ve got a bunch of little kids, plus my handwriting is nowhere near precise and beautiful. I knew there was no way we’d be able to duplicate that Pinterest-worthy activity. And so I kept putting it off.
Until this year.
This year I realized that I don’t need to compare my family or my family’s Thanksgiving activities to anybody else. My Thanksgiving does not need to be flawless to be wonderful. I am celebrating Thanksgiving with kids my own way this year, and nobody is going to stop me.
And so today, I introduce my not-so-Pinterest-worthy but definitely kid-friendly thankful pumpkin.
Daily Gratitude Lessons
Every year, my kids and I enjoy a family-friendly 30-day gratitude challenge together and the kids always have a great experience. I love doing a gratitude challenge because it really helps teach the kids to look outside of themselves. However, in addition to our traditional challenge, this year I wanted to do something a little more hands-on.
I explained the project to the kids, and they were thrilled! My son even put out the suggestion that when it’s complete, we can use it as a centerpiece for our Thanksgiving dinner table, which of course I thought was a wonderful idea. We then followed up my activity introduction with an uncomplicated discussion with my kids about why gratitude is important.
Gratitude is what helps us to recognize God’s hands in our lives and in everything around us. Gratitude is what keeps us humble and gratitude is a huge part of what makes us happy, even when things aren’t always going our way. Even if you are not religious, keeping a thankful attitude will go a long way on your kids’ journey to successful adulthood.
The Gratitude Activity
I began this activity in October, right as the seasons began to turn. After all, there’s no rule that says we have to wait until after October 31st to begin gratitude activities, am I right?
We harvested about a dozen pumpkins from our garden this year and I had the kids pick out their favorite one, but you could totally do this thankful pumpkin activity with a store-bought pumpkin.
Every morning after the kids finished breakfast and their morning chores, we gather around the table with a sharpie. Each kid takes turns drawing a small picture of something they are grateful for. If the kid has good handwriting, they also write the word under the picture, for ease of interpretation. I write the words in for those who are too little to write on their own.
It’s been a lot of fun watching the kids fill their pumpkin with things they are thankful for. It’s also been a lot of fun watching them invite this spirit of gratitude into their daily lives.
My little five-year-old comes up to me every morning and tells me with glee what he wants to draw that day; and his items are surprisingly insightful! The other night my little three-year-old got out of bed after tuck-ins to ask if he could draw something he was grateful for. I normally frown on post-tuck-in activities but I had to allow this one because I wanted to reinforce the lesson of the importance of gratitude.
This activity would be easy for any family to duplicate, with minimal pressure for perfection. You can pick any large gourd you like, so long as it will last the whole season without rotting.
Let your kids draw, write, color, sketch, or whatever else their hearts desire. You can organize things so it looks tidier, or you can let the kids have at it and really get a good adventure going.
These thankful pumpkins are involved enough to be used as a stand-alone gratitude activity and lesson this season, and yet simple enough to pair along with another activity (or activities).
Whether your family is enjoying your own 30-day gratitude challenge, your kids are keeping daily gratitude journals, or you simply talk about the spirit of selflessness this holiday season, making your own thankful pumpkins will reinforce any lessons you are trying to teach. And as my oldest son pointed out, yes, these thankful pumpkins would make beautiful table centerpieces, and conversation pieces, on Thanksgiving day.
Charlene Hess spent many years teaching kids in volunteer positions before she had her own kids. She now has 7 kids of her own, whom she has been homeschooling for the last 10 years. Charlene still teaches other children outside of her home but finds great joy in exploring the world with her family. Charlene has participated in many leadership trainings with John C. Maxwell. Charlene and her husband Benjamin blog about homeschooling and success principles for kids at https://hessunacademy.com. Charlene also blogs about homesteading and emergency preparedness at https://thepennedprepper.com.
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