And just like that it’s November. The excitement and sugar buzz of Halloween is wearing off and Thanksgiving is on the horizon. I really look forward to Thanksgiving and the month of November. I love the coziness and laid back feeling it brings, almost like the calm before the holiday storm. During November I usually try to incorporate a few activities to try to focus my family on gratitude all month long.
Here are some great gratitude activities that I think would be fun to do as a family. Of course, I am not suggesting you do all of these…if you tried that, I don’t think anyone would feel grateful at the end of the month! Pick a couple that you think might work for your family, and give them a try!
The Gratitude Pumpkin. This is an easy one we tried last year. Grab a pumpkin and using a marker, write something that each person is thankful for each day in November. We added it to our dinner routine, it was fun to watch the pumpkin fill up as the month went on. It was also a good challenge to find something new each day.
A Gratitude Jar– The same concept as the gratitude pumpkin, but you could keep it going throughout the year. Grab a jar & some slips of paper and set them out where they are handy. Each night or morning have everyone add one thing that they were thankful for the day before.
A Photo-a-day Gratitude Challenge– I usually get behind on anything that you are supposed to do daily, but I love the challenge of finding something to document each day. It’s a fun way to be creative and grateful. My boys love to take photos—-mostly of LEGO creations, but I might just let them know they can take a picture when they find something they are thankful for.
Read books that focus on giving thanks– Books are a fun way to inspire gratitude in kids. These are a few of our favorite children’s books that have a thankfulness theme.
Send Notes/messages of appreciation- This could be done throughout the month, or set aside a special time to do it together as a family. Make a list of people you are thankful for—-teachers, neighbors, pastor, the librarian with the great book recommendations. Then make a point to express that gratitude with a hand written note. To make the note writing extra special serve hot cocoa and some snacks, or play a fun playlist!
A Gratitude Walk- Take a walk as a family and list all the things you see, hear, touch and smell that you are thankful for. Talk about different colors, and shapes that you can appreciate, things you like about the area where you live, your neighborhood, your yard, or house.
The Classic Gratitude Turkey- You can’t beat the classic handprint turkey! Use markers or cut it out of construction paper and then list something for each finger. This one is great for thanksgiving day or leading up to it!
Start a gratitude journal- With an older kiddo, this is a great time to start the practice of a daily gratitude journal. We are going to incorporate this journal into our homeschool day. I love that it has a prompt, bible verse and a place to draw a picture.
Play “We’re Thankful for..” Played like we’re going on a picnic. The first person starts with A and chooses something they are thankful for that starts with A. The next person repeats the A item and adds an item that starts with B. Continuing through the alphabet until you get to Z and repeat everything listed! This game would be perfect for a car drive. If the game is too much, this A-Z printable would be a simpler version!
Make a family thankful book. Have each family member draw pictures, cut pictures out of magazines, or take and print photographs of things they are thankful for, then staple or bind them all together. If you wanted to make it a yearly tradition you could put the pages in a scrapbook or three ring binder.
Volunteer or donate– A true attitude of gratitude inspires us to action, so take some time as a family to bless others because you are so blessed. Depending on the age of your kids, (and this year, because of COVID) think of some ways you could give back. Maybe you could pick up trash near a park. Donate items to a homeless shelter, or make some blessing bags to give to people who are homeless.
Teach your kids a gratitude mindfulness meditation– The projects and crafts are fun, but the hope is to help are kids cultivate a lifelong spirit of gratefulness. Try teaching your kids to take “mental photographs” by telling them that anytime they feel really happy or thankful they can squeeze their eyes closed (as long as it’s safe) for a quick second…like a camera shutter, picture that moment in their mind and offer up a little prayer of thanksgiving. They can even say click if they want. I think it would be fun and insightful to ask them what mental pictures they took at the end of the day.
Here is a fun printable list of gratitude prompts. You could use these to spark dinner time conversation, as prompts for your gratitude journal or even as prompts for a photo a day challenge.
I hope you get sometime to slow down and count your blessings this month, and make great family memories doing it!