9 Gratitude Activities for Kids to Practice Thankfulness

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9 Gratitude Activities for Kids to Practice Thankfulness

October 19, 2021
posted by Kate Fahrenbach

Gratitude: this is one of the most difficult concepts to teach young children who are, by nature, developmentally self-centered.

In a preschool classroom, we set up an environment where children are learning to move from this egocentric stage into a world where they learn to develop a sense of empathy and learn how to become mindful of the feelings of others. This is one of the most important milestones to reach during the Early Childhood years.

How do we teach gratitude? By example, of course! The most effective way to teach gratitude is to create an environment where your children experience how you express gratitude in your everyday thoughts and actions. Children will take their lead from you.



Here are 9 simple ideas for parents and children to do at home that will foster gratitude:

  1. Take turns at dinner each day to share one happy thing about your day.
  2. At bedtime each night, name 3 things you love about each other.
  3. Have kids write down what they're most thankful for on individual slips of paper at the end of the say, and store them in a  daily gratitude jar.
  4. Work gratitude into daily conversation – for example, “Thank you for making dinner” or “Thank you for your help cleaning up”
  5. Have children help you with household chores (do them together!) They will learn it takes effort from everyone to get these daily tasks done.
  6. Encourage generosity by letting them help bake cookies for someone they know. Kids can draw pictures and write notes to family members and friends to send along.
  7. Make Thank You notes a regular follow up to gifts and presents that have been received. 
  8. Show kids how to create gratitude trees. Have kids write down what they're most thankful for on individual paper leaves, then have them attach the leaves to a tree trunk illustration.
  9. Create a gratitude journal for kids to write down what they're grateful for.


Thanksgiving Day is the perfect opportunity to model the attitude of gratitude and educate children on this important skill. A fun way to help children understand the holiday is to act out Thanksgiving dinner.

Provide some plates, silverware, play food, tablecloth, decorations, and a baby doll or two and watch them organize and “cook” their own holiday dinner. In my classroom, we keep a wheelbarrow nearby to deliver the turkey. If you have an old phone handy, there will be many orders called in to the store for extra milk or veggies or for pizza when the turkey burns up!

I watch this wonderful scene play out every year in my classroom and it never gets old. We follow up the activity with discussions about how much fun it is to be with our families and how we are grateful and thankful for them!

In order for children to begin to learn how to practice gratitude, they need to see it exemplified in their daily lives in ordinary, simple ways. Families can model this behavior on special holidays like Thanksgiving and in their day to day lives!