Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Teaching Our Child to Give Thanks

Thankful Tree: teaching kids about gratitude

A decade ago, I was single and living in Michigan. I was "adopted" by some friends of mine who had a beautiful family with four young kids. In addition to being a wonderful model of marriage to me, Dan and Sara taught me a lot about parenting, as well. 

I spent countless hours with the Kennedys, celebrating holidays and birthdays, playing Catan, discussing my woeful love life, and in general, just sharing our lives together. After I sustained my brain injury, the Kennedy family helped me with my therapies, made sure I had food to eat and that I actually ate it, and in general, generously loved on me. 

I was writing my book, Generation Ex (<--Amazon affiliate link) during this season, and I often tucked little marriage and parenting ideas away. Some I mention in my book. Others I noted internally, for someday, if God would bring me a spouse and children.

One tradition I just loved was their Thankful Tree. I will never forget how loved I felt when I came over one day and saw a leaf with "Auntie Jen." on it. I knew that I would have a Thankful Tree in my house.

We started our Thankful Tree last year when our son was three and able to articulate the things for which he was thankful.

I bought the foam tree on clearance at a craft store on clearance. I think the reason it was so cheap is that one section is slightly discolored. But we don't mind. We like to save money!

It took a bit of searching, but I did find a site that still sells this
We put up our Thankful tree on November 1. Our particular tree is basically a foam puzzle. 

We match the numbers on the back, and then tape the seams. This is a lesson learned from last year, when tree limbs fell down toward the end of the month!

Ready to start adding our leaves of gratitude! We put the tree in our dining room so we can talk about gratitude at dinner.

For leaves, I picked out some pre-cuts at a local curriculum store. You can also cut out your own, or--if you have one and know how to use it (ahem, I'm still working on that), you can use a Silhouette cutting machine, if you have one. (<--Amazon affiliate link). Next year, I'm going to use the file One Creative Mommy shared.

Each day, we add a new thing for which our son is thankful. Last year, we had a definite train theme to our thankful tree. 

This year, we've made to tweaks to our tradition. The first is that our 4-year-old now writes on the leaves himself. (Sneaky handwriting practice!). 

The second change is that I've added a frame with thoughts about gratitude. 

I love this one from Ink Happi. 

There are several great printables on Pinterest, so I think I will be swapping out quotes each week. Next week I'll put up this one from Balancing Home.

LOVE this free printable :)
Please do NOT pin this image from our site. Instead, pin from the source, Balancing Home
You can find more gratitude printables on my November board. 

At the end of the month, keep your leaves because it will be fun to see how your child's interests change over the years.

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