Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Gratitude Tree

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, I wanted to do something to emphasize the reasons behind this holiday. It isn't a major one around here, and we really don't spend weeks and weeks preparing for it, but I think it is still has the potential to be very meaningful and important in our lives, if we let it.

So after we ate our feast this afternoon, I showed the kids this short video online:

At the end of the clip, it asks, "What are you thankful for?"

To answer that question, I pulled out something I made our family last night I will call a 'Gratitude Tree.' (I'm sure I saw a similar idea somewhere years and years ago, but I really don't know. Sorry I can't reference well.)

I made the tree base from some brown poster paper last night. I thought it looked okay until I set it up, but now I think it kind of looks like a giant hand reaching out of the ground. Anyway....

Then I spent hours tracing and cutting out leaves from paper in various autumn tones. Hours.

Then, I chose several leaves and wrote down a few of the many things I am thankful for on them.

I pulled out all these things after the video clip, and explained that everyone was going to get five leaves, and they needed to think of five different things they were thankful for, write one on each, and that when we were done we'd put them on the tree.

I loved how quickly they filled up their leaves. And the things they thought of were great! They ranged from our family trip to Disneyland a year-and-a-half ago, to the food we had at dinner, to their school, to their toys, to their favorite animals, to their family. It was so wonderful to see what they came up with. I had a few left over leaves, and they insisted on filling those up too, and then my daughter made a few more because she had more ideas she wanted to include.

My plan was to just tape them on the tree to make a beautiful holiday reminder, but my oldest had the idea to turn it into a game, and we did it blindfolded, kind of like 'pin the tail on the donkey.' It worked out well, even if the tree looked a little more 'scattered' than it would have otherwise. What is important is that they enjoyed doing it, and really got the message of the activity.

Here is our finished tree.

I am so happy I took the time to do this with them. I hope it is something they will remember.

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