With Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away, we spend a lot of time at my house discussing what it means to be thankful. My kids generally get the concept, but sometimes I think it seems a little vague to them; when I ask what they are thankful for, I get pretty generic answers most of the time. I really wanted to help them find ways to relate being grateful to their every day lives–to think of things they are grateful for on a smaller, more immediate basis in order for them to see how this huge concept is present in their daily lives.
Last year, we started what I hope will be an annual tradition. We call it a Thankful Chain. It’s a simple activity you can do with your kids all month long (and well beyond November if you wanted to) that helps them really think about being thankful.
Everyone knows how to make a paper chain, right? You need strips of colored paper–we use autumn colors in orange, red, yellow, green, and brown. Construction paper cut into quarters the long way is the perfect weight and size for this project. I cut a TON of strips in advance, because if it’s already done we will keep up with the project; if I have to stop and re-supply us halfway through the month, I may not get to it.
Each night at dinner, while we’re eating and chatting, I ask each of my children what they are thankful for THAT DAY and I write it on one of the paper strips. I put their name on the back so we know who said what. Matt and I each do one too–in fact, we often go first so we can give the kids a little inspiration.
The things we are thankful for do not have to be huge concepts–for example, yesterday I was thankful that we got my favorite fruit in our weekly produce delivery. Matt was thankful that there wasn’t much traffic in the afternoon so he got home a little early. Showing the kids that we are thankful for small, seemingly insignificant details in our day helps them understand that gratitude is a concept that applies to us all, every day, in some way.
Using the strips of paper on which we’ve written our thanks, we make a paper link chain. Staple the first piece of paper in a loop. Link the next piece through the first loop and staple that one in a loop. Add each link every day, or once a week, until you’ve created a chain of paper loops.
We hang the finished paper chain as a decoration for Thanksgiving. It’s a great reminder of the small things that have happened in our lives that made us thankful. I saved last year’s chain and will add this year’s thanks right on to the end of it, and keep going every year we do this project.
Cross-posted on the Bundle Blog.