Thanksgiving Gratitude

A top view of desert after a festive Thanksgiving meal.

What better time to teach kids about gratitude than at Thanksgiving! Here are some ideas for teaching kids how to be thankful from ideas that came from parents like you:

A String of Thankfulness

One fall, I made leaf templates from cardboard and enlisted the kids' help in tracing them on yellow, orange and red construction paper and then cutting them out. Then we each took several leaves and wrote what we were thankful for and strung our leaves across the dining room. It's become a tradition. Every October, one of the kids reminds me, "Mom, it's time to make our thankfulness leaves!"

—Michelle Stiffler

Thanksgiving Tree

When my children were young, I set up a small tree in the dining room on Nov. 1. Then I made tags out of cardstock, punched holes in the top of the tags and tied a loop with yarn through the holes. Every day in November, each family member had to come up with one thing he or she was grateful for that day. The one rule was that they could not repeat something they had previously written. On Thanksgiving Day, we read each of the tags on the tree and observed how God had truly blessed us.

—Barbara Douma

A Contagious Attitude

As my kids made place mats for our Thanksgiving table, my 5-year-old daughter sighed dramatically. She loves to color but complained about having so much to do and how she'd never be able to finish in time. Yikes!

I realized she was mimicking me. So instead of obsessing about my to-do list, I started focusing on how much fun it would be to see our friends and family during Thanksgiving. As my attitude changed, so did hers.

—Shannon Timura

Turkey Turnaround

In my family, we call complaints and bad attitudes "turkeys." So it only seems natural to use this concept to encourage gratitude at Thanksgiving to turn those turkeys around! We draw turkeys on colored paper and cut them out. On the back of each turkey, we write a Bible verse about gratitude or blessings. Then when one of us says something ungrateful, that person writes or draws something he or she is thankful for on the front of a turkey. During Thanksgiving dinner, we read the turkeys aloud and thank God for our blessings.

—Mary Ann Romans

A Thankful Feast

To help us learn to give thanks in all circumstances, my family started a new tradition: a weekly "feast of thankfulness." Throughout the week, we write down things we are thankful for in a family notebook. One night a week, we pull out the fancy china and enjoy a meal that we prepared together. We discuss the items we've written in our notebook as we celebrate all that God has given us.

—Amber Groshans




"A String of Thankfulness" and "Thanksgiving Tree" first appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "A Contagious Attitude" first appeared in the October/November 2016 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Turkey Turnaround first appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine. "A Thankful Feast" first appeared in the October/November 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine. The compiled article "Thanksgiving Gratitude" first appeared on (2016). If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

"A String of Thankfulness" © 2018 by Michelle Stiffler. "Thanksgiving Tree" © 2018 by Barbara Douma. "A Contagious Attitude" © 2016 by Shannon Timura. "Turkey Turnaround" © 2014 by Mary Ann Romans. "A Thankful Feast" © 2013 by Amber Groshans. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Handling Holiday Conflict

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