Teaching Gratitude Through a Grateful Tree

On long, exhausting, frustrating days with my boys (lets be honest we all have them) there is one thing I lean on to pull me through: Gratitude.

I started practicing intentional gratitude after my first was born in an attempt to ease anxiety. I learned quickly that when I regularly took time to give thanks and share a sense of abundance around me, I attracted a goodness that elevated my mood and carried me through the day. What better time to emphasize gratitude than the month of November, when Thanksgiving is at the forefront of our of planning. I came across the idea for a Grateful Tree while in the seasonal section of Target (where else) and I must say, it will now be a staple of our holiday celebration. The Grateful Tree is a fun and interactive way to engage your kids while instilling the value of gratitude.

There are many ways to create your own Grateful Tree, but here I’ll give you the tools to build a tree like the one we have on display in our home. You will need:

  • A Glass Cylinder
  • Pine Cones
  • A stick (ideally with numerous branches)
  • Construction Paper (Red, Orange and Yellow)
  • Hole Punch
  • Yarn
  • Permanent Marker

Fill the cylinder with pine cones. This will hold the stick in place and keep it straight so you can hang your leaves. Position the stick up right so that the leaves will dangle colorfully from each branch. Use the construction paper for the leaf cutouts. You can also purchase them here. Punch a hole in each cutout, and carefully weave the yarn through the hole to create the hanger.

Practicing gratitude may reduce aggression and alleviate negative emotions such as envy and resentment

For every night in November we’ve added a leaf to our Grateful Tree. It has become the pre-bedtime ritual. I ask my oldest son to tell me one thing in his life that he is grateful for, and we use the permanent marker to write it down on one of the leaves and hang it on a branch. Just a tip: defining grateful to an almost-three-year-old proved to be tricky. I explained to him that the things in life for which we show gratitude make us happy. Basically he gives me items throughout his day that brought him joy, which, to me is close enough! We can expand on that down the road.

There are many benefits to exercising gratitude, and introducing this practice early on in a child’s life may increase mental strength, boost empathy and augment overall well-being.

Studies show that gratitude may also reduce aggression and alleviate negative emotions such as envy and resentment. And seriously, the Grateful Tree is a super cute piece of decor to add to your Thanksgiving collection. I think it will be fun to look back on our grateful leaves next year, and see how he grows in his understanding. Hope you find this project to be as beneficial as we have. Enjoy your Grateful Tree!

PS. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our post on our Table Talk Thanksgiving Conversation Game(hint: it includes a  free printable)!


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