Expressing Gratitude- A Skill for Everyone
Dr. Kristi Smith, D.Ed., M.Ed., CFE   •   November 1, 2022

November is national “Gratitude” month as it naturally matches the overall feelings and emotions that are brought up around the harvest season and Thanksgiving. Gratitude is also the Character Value of the Month at Children’s Lighthouse Early Learning Schools. Gratitude is more than the quality of being thankful. Thankfulness is an emotion while gratitude is the act of expressing thankfulness and being appreciative. Gratitude is the readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness.

There are many holidays around the world that are based on expressing gratitude, especially to those involved in the fall harvest. Mid-Autumn Festival is a Chinese holiday that celebrates the moon, family, and the harvest. Water Buffalo Racing is a decades-old festival in Thailand to celebrate rice farmers before harvest. Pongal is a southern India thanksgiving to nature holiday during harvest. Ghana and Nigeria have The Yam Festival which is held when the yam harvest is ripe. While everyone loves fall food and football in the USA during Thanksgiving in November, the primary objective of this holiday is expressing gratitude for the things we have and the people who are in our lives.

Children are never too young to begin to learn various ways they can express gratitude. Below is a list of ways preschool-age children can express gratitude while having fun! (Hint – taking photos of those mentioned in the below activities and sending them to the subjects makes these an act of expressing gratitude.)

  1. Volunteer at the local food bank as a family - By taking time out of your own busy life to give back to others, your family will be reminded of all of the things to be grateful for in life. An activity like this is guaranteed to create gratitude conversations once it is done as you talk about the experience as a family.
  2. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt - Children love taking photos. While they may not be the best photos, you will be surprised to look at the world through your child’s eyes. Have your child do a gratitude scavenger hunt by walking around the house and taking pictures of people and things for which they are thankful!
  3. Friendship pictures - Have your child choose the people in their lives they are grateful for. Let them draw a picture for them. Ask them what they love about that person and write it on the picture.
  4. November Gratitude Chain - Build a chain of thankfulness as a family. Each day, choose one thing you are thankful for and write it on a strip of paper. Each day, use a stapler to staple the strip into a circle. Add each strip to the chain as a whole until you have one long chain of gratitude at the end of the month.
  5. Gratitude Journal - Take a few sheets of paper, fold hamburger style, and staple the crease to create a book. Make the title “My Gratitude Journal.” Your child can draw/write things they are appreciative of in the book.
  6. Around the table - Don’t forget the time-honored tradition of slowing down on Thanksgiving day for each member of the family to go around and simply state something for which they are thankful!
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