Thanksgiving Crafts That Teach Students Gratitude

Thanksgiving is an ideal time to introduce children to the concept of cultivating gratitude. For younger students, this may be the first time they have considered that not everyone has the comforts and opportunities that they do. For all students, instilling the habit of practicing gratitude has been shown to increase empathy and improve physical and psychological health and resilience. Thanksgiving crafts that teach students gratitude can include a gratitude journal, a thankful wreath, or a tree of thanks.

When getting into the spirit of the season, consider crafts like these to incorporate gratitude into your holiday, while also continuing to practice those creative skills. Keep reading to learn about thanksgiving crafts that teach students gratitude:

Thanksgiving craft group #1: Gratitude calendar, journal, or photograph challenge

For a month-long or extended focus on gratitude, consider creating a Thanksgiving calendar or journal, or weigh joining a gratitude photograph challenge. These activities result in hand-crafted projects, with the added benefit of a daily practice over the course of a month. For the calendar, a poster board serves as the backdrop for 30 paper pockets, each labeled with the date. Every day, students can insert a slip of paper into the pocket that states what they are thankful for that day.

Alternately, using cardstock or construction paper, create gratitude journals with your child. Sit down together in the mornings or at the end of each day to fill a page with thanks for something in your lives.

A gratitude photography challenge lets your student experiment with technology by taking a picture each day of something he or she is grateful for. At the end of the challenge, students can create a collage or a slideshow to share at Thanksgiving dinner.

[RELATED: 3 Ways Students Can Benefit From Journaling]

Thanksgiving craft group #2: Thankful “hand”book, tablecloth, or wreath

These activities are prepared in advance, and children can ask for input from friends and family on Thanksgiving day. Students can trace the outline of one hand on craft or construction paper, and then compile and decorate a small journal of hand-shaped pages that visitors can fill in. If your child enjoys writing, he or she can transcribe what family members say they are thankful for; otherwise, participants can fill in the pages themselves.

A thankful wreath uses:

  • A circular wire frame

  • Clothespins

  • Paint or markers

  • A Sharpie.

Students can paint the clothespins ahead of time, pin them to the frame, and then ask guests to contribute by writing something they are thankful for on a painted clothespin.

Last, consider buying an inexpensive cotton tablecloth for your child to decorate, and then ask guests to write their gratitude on their section of the tablecloth sometime during dinner.

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Thanksgiving craft group #3: Garland, paper quilt, or tree of thanks

A final suggestion is the type of craft you can reuse for decor every year. Students can create a garland with:

  • Individual hanging leaves

  • A tree with bare branches that can be filled in with leaves or handprints

  • A paper quilt from alternating squares of plain and decorative paper on a canvas or wooden board.

Then, draw a picture or write a small sentence about what you are grateful for on individual flags, leaves, or paper squares, and display it during the holiday. Families can add to these each year with new experiences and new thanks.

[RELATED: Holiday Gift Ideas for the Student in Your Life]

Whether you choose a long project, a way to include family and friends, or something you’ll revisit each holiday season, taking the time to sit down together and reflect on your lives can inspire gratitude. This is a meaningful way to cultivate a habit of giving thanks this holiday season and beyond.

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