Thanksgiving in Real Life: 3 Fun Gratitude Activities for Kids
There are a lot of reasons to love Thanksgiving. Food, family, football, a long weekend off from work. Did we mention the food?
It’s also a unique holiday—how many other holidays are rooted in a single virtue? Our country’s early leaders established it as a national holiday so clearly they thought gratitude was important. What they may have only understood intuitively has since been proven with research:
“gratitude can make people happier, improve relationships, and potentially even counteract depression and suicidal thoughts. Gratitude can also boost self-esteem.”1
Is Technology Making Us Sadder?
Despite some pretty solid evidence that there has never been a better time to be alive,2 depression and other mental health issues are on the rise.3 Helping kids avoid these problems is a big part of our mission at Gabb.
To be clear, mental and emotional health are complex problems—there isn’t a single cause or simple solution. But technology does appear to be playing a huge role in our happiness today, especially for kids. Consider this:
- Social Media – Depression from social media is a pressing issue. This quote from researcher Amber Barthorpe sums it up pretty well: “Time spent on social media has been shown to both create and exacerbate symptoms of depression.”
- Screen Time – What’s on the screen does matter, but excessive screen time in general is proving problematic. From Dr. Thomas Joiner at Florida State University: “There is a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts.”
- Cyberbullying – Bullying is not a new problem but digital technology has made it easier for bullies to reach victims and harder for victims to get away from it. And the anonymity of many online platforms makes it easier for kids to bully who otherwise wouldn’t. Read more about the facts of cyberbullying.
Technology can have other impacts, even outside of these severe threats. Sociologist from MIT, Dr. Sherry Turkle who said, “our increasing dependence on devices has created barriers to connection.” Modern technology is itself something to be grateful for. But without the right technology for their maturity level, or the right tech education, it can quickly become the opposite.
Connect In Real Life
This Thanksgiving when you gather with the people you love, consider disconnecting from devices and making a bigger effort to connect in real life. To help make that connection both meaningful and entertaining, we’ve pulled together a list of fun and easy activities for practicing gratitude. These gratitude games are a great way to teach your children how to unlock the power of gratitude and make the most of Thanksgiving.
Grab a glass jar and let the kiddos decorate it however they want (what really matters is what you’ll put on the inside). Take a piece of paper and cut it into small strips and have each child write down one thing they’re grateful for that day. Then keep the jar in a visible place in your home and have your kid add a new strip to the jar every day until Christmas. Just like that you’ve turned a single day of gratitude into a full season of gratitude.
Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
This is a great activity idea for active kids who might not be as affected by the “turkey hangover” as the adults in the house. Teach gratitude in a fun way by creating your own list to keep the kids moving or use this free printable download from All Natural Adventures.4
Gratitude Pumpkin Craft
This is one of our favorite thankful activities for elementary school-aged kids. Credit to The Moffatt Girls blog for this idea.5
- Cut an orange piece of construction paper into strips (you could also color a white piece of paper if you don’t have construction paper on hand).
- Write one thing you’re grateful for on each strip.
- Glue the front ends and back ends of each strip together to form a pumpkin shape.
- Use green paper to cut out a couple leaf shapes and a strip for the stem. Roll the strip so it curls then glue that and the leaves to the top of the pumpkin. Add the child’s name and date and it becomes a combo gratitude journal for kids + time capsule you can save.
These three activities can just be a jumping off point for your own ideas. There are countless other ways to help kids get into the attitude of gratitude. Even something as simple as reading gratitude books for kids6 together can be a great alternative to more screen time. The key to a happy, gratitude-filled Thanksgiving is connection.
And food. Let’s not forget about the food.
1 Practicing Gratitude for Better Health and Well-Being | University of Utah
2 Your Life In Numbers | Human Progress
3 Why American Teens Are So Sad | The Atlantic
4 Finding Gratitude In Nature Scavenger Hunt | All Natural Adventures
5 November Fun-Filled Learning Resources | The Moffatt Girls
6The Thankful Book by Todd Parr | Amazon