Learning Gratitude with Thanksgiving Activities

Thanksgiving is the time of year when we express gratitude and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Gratitude is a fundamental component of both our overall happiness and our relationships with loved ones. Expressing gratitude is just as important for children as it is for adults. While gratitude can be a difficult trait for children to grasp, children learn best by doing.

Here are some activities that your child can participate in during this Thanksgiving holiday:

  • Thankful Tree. This is a wonderful craft that can be used throughout the month of November for the whole family to enjoy. Start by collecting branches from outside, or from a local craft store and arrange them in a jar, or vase to make a tree. Create the leaves by either, cutting out paper leaves, or tracing your child’s hand and cutting those to make leaves. Throughout November, set a container of your leaves that your child has created next to your Thankful Tree. Have your child, or family member write down something they are grateful for on one of the leaves and hang it on the tree. By Thanksgiving, you’ll have a great family decoration that expresses the meaning of the holiday.
  • Teach gratitude through reading. There are numerous books on gratitude that you can read with your child.

Here are some they may enjoy:

  • The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems
  • Bear Says Thanks, by Jane Chapman
  • Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle


  • Giving Back. Another way to teach gratitude is by giving to those who are less fortunate. Spend some of your time at a hospital with those who aren’t able to be home during the holiday season. You might visit the children’s hospital and have your child pick out a gift to give to the children they visit. In addition, some items in your home may no longer be of use to you. Have your child help you gather up used toys and other belongings and deliver them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.


There are so many benefits to practicing gratitude and teaching our children to be grateful at a young age can encourage a happier life with healthy relationships in adulthood. It is a practice that should not only be emphasized on Thanksgiving but year-round.

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Age Groups:

Advanced Pre-K

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