It really seems like Thanksgiving should have a longer holiday season. It nearly gets forgotten as the stores start stocking Christmas items exactly two minutes after trick-or-treaters have been washed up and tucked into bed. Children go from house to house begging for pounds of candy straight to making their gift list for Santa.
Where is Thanksgiving?
And when in all that dressing up and wish listing do we teach our children to say thank you?
How do we teach them what it means to have gratitude?
Well, this gratitude activity for preschoolers is a good start. It’s just the right combination of messy, crafty art making and a solid lesson on what it means to give thanks and why gratitude is important.
So, Why is Gratitude so Important?
Yes, it’s nice. Everybody enjoys hearing, “Thank you.” Or. better yet, “Tee-too,” if it’s coming from a toddler. Cutest. Thing. Ever!
But did you know that gratitude can have some seriously positive effects on our lives? Of course we want our children to experience that!
For example, people who are thankful for their many blessings tend to have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure and they tend to sleep better, too. Grateful people also experience less depression and consider themselves as optimistic, hopeful and happy. Gratitude has social impacts as well. Those who have greater amounts of gratitude are more outgoing and more forgiving. They are more generous and helpful.
And these are all things we want children to know first-hand.
So as a preschool teacher I take full advantage of the month of November by teaching about giving thanks from the moment my preschoolers first tell me how much fun they had trick-or-treating over the weekend. One of the gratitude activities we began with were these beautiful marbleized leaf garlands.
The Gratitude Lesson
Every morning in circle time we’ve been reading various books about Thanksgiving and giving thanks. We take extra time reading these books, stopping to talk about the pictures and asking questions about how the story relates to us.
Preschoolers can be so insightful.
And each morning during circle time we add to our Gratitude Journal. It’s a list we’ve been keeping on chart paper about the things we are thankful for. Each preschooler has something different and special to share. The list includes anything from Mom and Dad to tickles, stuffed animals and butterfly kisses.
By the time we made these garlands, my preschoolers had given quite a bit of thought to what things they are thankful for. By this time, they had identified what in their own lives they were grateful to have.
Books We Read
I wouldn’t be able to teach my preschoolers, or my children, about gratitude without the aid of these wonderful picture books.
How to Make a Gratitude Leaf Garland
Marbleize your paper.
Cut out leaves. I used a Cricuit, but you can also do it by hand.
Hot glue the leaves to a long piece of yarn and invite your preschoolers to name some things they are thankful for. Record their answers on the leaves.
We hung these marbleized leaf garlands on the mantel of our fireplace. All three of my older children made one, and I did too, so our mantel has four layers of things our family is thankful for. Best of all, it will hang until we replace them with stockings, so we have a reminder of our blessings all month long…and maybe even longer.
I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction