What Does Thankful Look Like?
Horn of Plenty to be Thankful For
The original concept of a cornucopia is abundance, so this is a great one to remind us of all we have. You can find a wicker horn-shaped basket at many craft stores, and plastic fruit at lots of toy or hobby shops. On each piece of fruit, use a permanent marker to write a word (or draw a picture) of something that your child says he or she is thankful for. When the horn is full, it is an impressive representation of our multitude of blessings, and makes a pretty centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table.
We did this one as kids using a pineapple as a turkey body base, but you could just as easily use a styrofoam form instead. Draw or print off a turkey head (you can find one easily online by searching “turkey head template”), and back it with a wooden kebab skewer to poke in the front of the body base. Then, using colored construction paper, cut out feathers that are large enough to write a word or two on. Back each with a skewer, then brainstorm with your kids things that you are thankful for and write them on each feather. You can either do this all at once, or do one each day, starting with the first day of November. Each one will poke into the back of the turkey, making a colorful plume.
There are several versions of this snack mix, but the basic idea is the same: each item represents something to be thankful for. Some examples: animal crackers can represent our pets and all the animals living outside; teddy grahams can represent big bear hugs; Hershey kisses can represent kisses from those we love; sunflower seeds can represent seeds that bloom into trees and flowers; goldfish crackers can represent the ocean and all its animals; little gingerbread people can represent our friends and our family members, etc. You can play with it and get creative, tweaking it to whatever preferences you have for food and what your kids might be into at the moment. Then, you can either keep it on hand for your own snacking, or bag it up and give it to friends.
A Rainbow of Gratitude
A very basic idea that doesn’t involve much, but gives small children a framework to work with that makes sense to them. On a large piece of paper, make the outline of a rainbow using a black marker, leaving six spaces open to fill in with colors. Using a red marker, either write the words or draw pictures of things you and your child are thankful for that are that color (for example, we’re thankful for sweet strawberry ice cream, our warm red winter coat that keeps us warm, etc.). Continue this with each line down the rainbow, using the appropriate color for each.
Blocks of Blessings
This is more of a game than a project, but it’s great for tactile kids, and helps with language skills. Using alphabet blocks, let each one be a launch pad to name something to be thankful for that starts with that letter. You can either stack them on top of one another, making a “tower of thanks,” or make a line on the floor with a goal of coming up with a line as long as your child is when they lie next to it. You can use blocks without letters as well, just using the block itself as a physical representation of something you are thankful for.
For a daily reminder of thanks, make a bracelet or a necklace with your child that they can wear wherever they go. Using beads of your choice, give each one a special meaning that you personalize with a thankful message. It could either be directed as something you’re thankful for about them, i.e. “This bead is for how thankful I am that you are such a kind sister.” Or, it could be to help guide them in their own thankful journey, i.e. “This bead is to remind you of all the friends you have at school.” It can even be an activity the whole family is involved in, with everyone exchanging beads to show what they are thankful for about each member of the Family.