My favorite holiday as a kid growing up wasn’t Christmas. Maybe that makes me an odd kid. But for me, it was always Thanksgiving. The traditions our family had were precious to me, and that ritual was something I came to love, and to long for. To this day, I don’t even have to close my eyes to be transported back to Grandma’s kitchen the morning of Thanksgiving. It was the same every year. Year after year, after year.
It’s those memories that make me want to establish special traditions with our own kids related to Thanksgiving. Not just about Thanksgiving itself, but about thankfulness. Thats why when my friend Ashley wrote this post about creating a super cute little fall prayer journal, I jumped on the idea and decided to make a similar one using Becca’s handwriting journals and turn it into a Thankfulness Journal. (Step by step directions on how I made mine can be found at the bottom of this post.)
I think something kids today really struggle with is entitlement. With very little to no effort on their parts, stuff just shows up. And I started realizing recently that our kids have no idea what they have. They have no idea what half of this city doesn’t have… and that’s where my idea for the Thankfulness Journal was born. Each day of November, Becca will sit down and think about one THING (NOT a person!) she is thankful for. She can draw a picture, and we’ll work together on sounding out the words, and writing what she is thankful for. This is a great activity for your kids to work on handwriting, spelling, and phonics! In the back half of the journal, we will talk about our family traditions (not just from Thanksgiving) we are thankful for and write and illustrate those, as well. And to keep myself on the right mental path, I’ve downloaded Ashley’s grown up version of a Thankfulness Journal, which you can get free here!
Another activity we’ll do before Thanksgiving to talk about thankfulness is thinking about all the foods that we eat – not just at Thanksgiving, but also other times. I will give her food magazines to cut pictures from (fine motor practice!) and she can glue them onto poster paper and work on writing labels for the foods she finds. I will also challenge her to pick foods that she doesn’t like, that she knows other family members DO like. Maybe she’ll find a picture of scrambled eggs. Or a picture of bacon. Or a picture of (Heaven forbid!) broccoli. I want to encourage her to think about others, and what our preferences are. This is a great way to think outside the box… and stop the spread of selfishness!! She also needs practice thinking about balanced meals, so she can use the pictures to make posters of balanced meals… and pick a few of the foods she’d like to try someday! (Hey, this Mommy can dream, right??)
Fall is a fabulous time to get outside and remember the beauty that God has blessed us with on this Earth. Maybe it’s something as simple as a seed collecting and sorting activity. Or maybe it’s getting out and doing a photo challenge in nature to find certain small creatures or plants – then print those pictures and place them into a little journal that your child can look back at to remember to thank God for the little things in nature that He has placed in our lives to remind us of his majesty. Even if you don’t think there is much to explore in your front yard, you’d be amazed what you can find when you get down on all fours and pretend you are a beetle!
I would challenge you to have your children write thank you notes to their friends who give them treats for Halloween. Encourage them to list out not just what the friend gave, but WHY they are thankful that child is their friend. “I love it that you make me laugh.” “I like how you help me when I can’t tie my shoe.” “Thank you for always smiling at me and helping me be happy when I’m sad.” Even if your kids are used to writing thank you notes, I bet they are probably used to saying “thanks for the _xyz toy_.” And that’s it. Mix it up this November. Get them thinking about WHY they are thankful for that friendship they have. Let them use fun stickers and special pens or markers to make those friends feel really special, and to add some fun to what can seem very serious for your kids.
Now is the perfect time to plan what activities you’re going to do this November – to not let Thanksgiving get lost in the shuffle between Halloween and Christmas. It’s a great time to think about what new family traditions you want to start, and to really center your own mind on thankfulness. We often focus so much on the costumes we’ll wear and the gifts that we’ll buy, or even on the turkey we’ll cook… that the actual purpose of giving thanks is lost. Hopefully these ideas will help everyone in your family remember to be thankful for the objects, foods, nature, and people around them, because Thanksgiving is so much more than just a day we eat a lot of food and hang out with family to watch a parade and some football. This year, focus on the things and the people they are thankful for, and WHY they are thankful for them. Let’s raise a generation that isn’t the ME generation, but the YOU generation… the THANK YOU generation.
Make your own Thankfulness Journal!
I don’t have any Modge Podge, and wanted to cover the book entirely… so I took 4 sheets of scrapbook paper and here’s what I came up with! You can do the same in just about 5 minutes!
I also cut pieces to cover the insides so that the print on the front cover was not distracting. You wouldn’t have to do that – in which case, you would only need 2 sheets of 12×12 paper.