Nov 022012
 

Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.comLooking for a way to help little ones understand the concept of gratitude, and why it is so important?  Here is one action-based idea!

My local multicultural moms group is holding a Thanksgiving party for our little ones, and I wanted to create a fun activity that would help them understand the concept of gratitude.

While we do have some preschoolers in the bunch, many of the kids are younger, so I was looking for a way to really bring the concept to life for them.  Also, I wanted an activity, not just a craft, so here is what I came up with!  I love that it is simple and requires very little in the way of space or supplies.  Just some imagination and a willingness to stand up in front of a bunch of kids and make a fool of yourself!  (What’s new, right??)Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com

Many thanks to Chelsea of Enable Me to Grow and Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings for helping me flesh out this idea!

Creating a Thankfulness Tree

Step one is to create a thankfulness tree – that is, a tree whose leaves represent things the kids are grateful for.  This simple but powerful activity is not a new idea.  In fact, Enable Me to Grow included it as an activity in their lesson plan for little ones on Thankfulness.  And Tender Sapling recently suggested it as a way to help kids cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

For older kids, you could write (or have them write) something they are thankful for on each leaf.  Preschoolers could draw a picture, whereas you could draw pictures for younger ones, based on what they tell you.Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com

I tried it out with my Monkey today and was pleasantly surprised at how much he enjoyed it.  In the interest of being cheap making this craft accessible, I used a paper grocery bag to draw our tree. I then cut some leaves out of construction paper and had him tell me things that make him happy, explaining that we are grateful for these things.  He needed some prompting to get started, but he soon got the idea and had fun thinking of new leaves to add.

If you can’t interpret my drawings, our leaves are (clockwise from top): Daddy, racecars, trains, fire trucks, letters and numbers (he dictated these to me – looks like he’s been studying Hebrew behind my back!), jumping, ice cream, berries (okay, I might have suggested that one – had to balance out the ice cream!), and dancing.Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com

Journey to the Gratitude Garden

And now for the main event.  You can always do this activity alone, but I think creating the Thankfulness Tree first helps kids start thinking in the right direction, plus it provides a visual reminder during the game of things they are thankful for.

This is intended as a group activity.  You can try doing it with just your child, but unless yours has a very different temperament than mine, s/he will be more distracted, and plus it won’t be nearly as fun!

  1. Start the Journey: Stand up in front of the group, with the Thankfulness Tree in clear view.  Explain that you are all going on a trip to the Grateful Garden, but to get there you have to go through three dangerous places!  (Insert a word other than “dangerous” if more appropriate to the age group).  The Thankfulness Tree will help you get through each one so you can make it to the Grateful Garden.
  2. The Frowny Forest:  The first stop is the Frowny Forest.  Have the kids all mimic you as you frown, cross your arms, and hunch over.  There is a lot of wind in the Frowny Forest, so mimic being tossed about by the wind, turning back and forth as if you are trying to fight it.  The only way to leave the Frowny Forest is to feel happy again, so ask the kids to shout out things they are grateful for (using the Thankfulness Tree as a prompt).  After they have named a few things, mimic great relief, with a big smile.Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com
  3. The Sad Swamp:  But, oh no!  Just beyond the Frowny Forest is the Sad Swamp!  Hunch over again, swing your arms down low, and walk (in place) in big, heavy steps, as if walking through mud or water.  Again, have the kids shout out things they are grateful for, so you can all leave the Sad Swamp.Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com
  4. The Mad Mountain:  Past the Sad Swamp is the Mad Mountain.  Have them imitate you as you pretend to climb up the mountain with great effort, making angry faces.  Again, have the kids shout out things they are grateful for, so you can all feel happy again.Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com
  5. The Grateful Garden: Finally, you have all arrived at the Grateful Garden!  What a good job they have done!  To celebrate, everyone can do a Happy Hop! :)Journey to the Gratitude Garden - Alldonemonkey.com

How do you teach your kids about gratitude?  What are YOU thankful for?

This post has been shared at Wonderfully Messy Mom’s Turkey Day Linkup.

  26 Responses to “Journey to the Gratitude Garden: Activity for Thanksgiving”

  1. I love this Leanna! I’ve been trying to think of ways to teach my girls about Thanksgiving. I will trying this one soon.

  2. I love your ideas for helping kids understand the concept of gratitude and relating it to them on their level.

  3. […] Journey to the Gratitude Garden: Activity for Thanksgiving from All Done Monkey […]

  4. Love this – pinning it. Good points.

  5. I love the actions to go along with the feeling! I’m going to try this one with the children I care for – I think they’ll really enjoy it!

  6. This is really great! I think this will be a fun family activity for my boys.

  7. What a great interactive lesson on gratitude!

  8. […] kids learn the meaning of gratitude with a Journey To The Gratitude Garden (All Done […]

  9. I would do this with my childs in home and the games in church, I love it! thanks for this amazing post!
    Joa

  10. […] durable leaves so they don’t crumble while writing on them or you want to make a fun game of it, All Done Monkey has great ideas here that are sure to delight little ones. My idea was to have the children write […]

  11. […] kids learn the meaning of gratitude with a Journey To The Gratitude Garden (All Done […]

  12. […] Gratitude Garden by All Done Monkey: This is an awesome activity for showing younger children the power of choosing thankfulness in changing our negative attitudes. Super simple with a great message! […]

  13. […] Gratitude Garden by All Done Monkey: This is an awesome activity for showing younger children the power of choosing thankfulness in changing our negative attitudes. Super simple with a great message! […]

  14. Thanks for this idea! I am a pre service teacher running out of ideas to teach my class of 2 1/2 to 6 year olds Spanish! I think this will be a great way to do a two day lesson with thanksgiving vocabulary! It sounds like a Dora episode and my kids will love to pretend to be Dora going to the gratitude garden:)

  15. […] Journey to the Gratitude Garden from All Done […]

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