Creative Ways to Teach Kids Thankfulness

The holidays will soon be here, and parents everywhere are wondering how they can teach their kids how to express thankfulness on the holiday and beyond. Rather than just going around the table and saying a quick list of things they are grateful for, moms and dads want creative and unique “I’m Thankful For…” ideas that will get the kiddos in the spirit of giving thanks. Here are a few creative ways to teach kids to express thankfulness during the holidays and beyond:

1.     Thankfulness jar: Put out a decorative jar with a notepad and pen. Have family members write down things they are thankful for and read the notes at Thanksgiving dinner.

2.     Alphabet list: Go around the table and have everyone say something they are thankful for. Be creative and use the alphabet to keep things going (each person has to say something they are thankful for that starts with the next letter in the alphabet.)

3.     Reward thankfulness. Recognize your child when they remember to say “thank you,” especially to a stranger. Tell them how proud or impressed you are with their behavior.

4.     Dry-erase board display: Have a dry-erase board on prominent display where people can write what they are thankful for.

5.     Thankful songs: Choose a popular tune, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and have each child sing a song starting with the words “I am thankful for…” This will get your kids’ creativity going and is sure to bring joy and many laughs!

6.     Make them wait (or work) for it. When kids get everything they ask for the minute they ask for it, they don’t appreciate it. If you make them wait a couple of days or until their next birthday, they will be incredibly grateful for the gifts when they receive them. Children also appreciate things more when they have contributed work or money towards them.

7.     Work thankfulness into your daily conversation.  Talk to your kids about how blessed you are to live where you do and remind them how special and important they are to you. Helping a child appreciate what they already have will help them be thankful for their life.

8.     Volunteer. Whether it’s bringing cookies to a neighbor lady, or filling food bags at a homeless shelter, your children will benefit from seeing the joy they can bring to those less fortunate than themselves.

9.     Write thank you notes. Somewhat old-fashioned and definitely on the out, thank you notes require the children to think about each person and why they appreciate them and the gift they gave. It takes time, and every kid loves receiving mail.

10.  Be a good role model.  Remember “monkey see, moneky do.” Make sure you’re a good role model for your kids when it comes to being thankful. If they witness you showing gratitude and being thankful for the things you have, they will model themselves after your behavior.


Good luck and Happy Parenting!

Daddy Nickell


Daddy Nickell, father of 7, founder of and the Daddyscrubs parenting blog.


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