Before This Thanksgiving, Teach Gratitude.Nov. 17th, 2015 1:44 pm
Here are a Few Fun Ways to Help Our Catholic School Students a Little More About Gratitude
Create a Family Gratitude Jar
To create the jar, all you need is a jar,(box or other receptacle),and some creativity. The idea is simple. Once you find the receptacle, you can create the 2015 gratitude jar by decorating the container using leaves or any other other Thanksgiving themed decorations. Attach decorations to the sides of the container with Mod Podge or another safe adhesive. Creating the jar can be a great activity for your elementary aged children. If you want to keep the idea going after Thanksfiving, you might use photos, words,or whatever you and your kids want.
Every day, each family member is invited to write down at least one thing that they are thankful for. Mom, Dad, the younger kids, and yes you too high school students. (iPhone gets only one vote) Remember to encourage the value of being grateful for things beyond material possessions like memories, experiences, friends, etc. Everyone should write down at least one thing they are thankful for on one side of the piece of paper, and the reason why on the back.
Then, on Thanksgiving, The jar/container should get passed around the table and each person gets to read a gratitude moment! You can also continue to use the jar during Advent as a way to focus family members on the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
A Different Kind of "Wish List"
This can be a very meaningful practice for elementary, middle, and high school aged Catholic students. As Santa Claus starts to ease into our everyday life, and kids of all ages begin to think about making their gift wish lists, change it up. Instead of having the child or teenager write down what they want for themselves, have them instead write down what they want to give to their family and friends as holiday gifts.
Let their imaginations run wild, as countless lessons can be learned from this practice. Anything from a house to a painting could wind up on this list. Your child will get thinking about who they are thankful for, and how they would want to show their gratitude to these people.
"Today I am Thankful For" Board
For this idea, all you need is a whiteboard, chalkboard, dry erase board, or poster board and some markers. Place the board in a location everyone uses each day, next to the commonly used door, or in the hallway near the door. Before leaving the house everyday, everyone in the family writes one thing that they are thankful for that day(try not to have repeat ideas). Log the daily entries and read them on Thanksgiving Day as a conversation starter.
You can also use each day's entries as a conversation starter for that particular night when the family is all back at home. Daily entries can provide a new conversation about why family members are grateful for what they wrote down that morning and what they reflected on throughout the day. At the very least, this activity will remind both younger and older kids of who or what they truly care about.
Thanksgiving Thankfulness Journal
This can become a wonderful holiday tradition for the whole family. All you need is a nicely bound blank journal to become the official Thanksgiving Journal. The idea is simple, as Thanksgiving day approaches, each family member is asked to write a short journal entry, list, or draw a picture of who or what they are most grateful for during the past year.
Everyone is invited to take a turn, writing their entry in the journal. The entries can either be read aloud at the dinner table, before or after dinner, or can be kept private. Whatever you decide,the journal should be kept in a safe place for the next year, or allow it to double as a holiday journal that everyone can write in on Christmas as well. Family members can journal the favorite gift they received or gave, or recall their favorite Christmas memory. If you want, you can continue the jopurnaling until New Year's Eve by having family record their favorite memory or events of the past year.
The simple task of recording your gratitude each year will provide a record of how your elementary Catholic school students mature into teenagers, and your teenagers mature into young adults. In a few years you'll have a wonderful family heirloom that can potentially be passed on for generations so your grandchildren can have their children continue the tradition of keeping a family Thanksgiving Thankfulness Journal going for years and years!