Thankfulness Trees are a great way to help your family celebrate the people and things you are grateful for during the month of Thanksgiving. Giving thanks or expressing gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Research reveals that expressing gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, reduces anxiety and depression, encourages healthier behavior, helps build strong relationships, and aids recovery. It also improves self-esteem, physical health, psychological health, and sleep!
Thankfulness Trees may be the perfect start of a new family gratitude habit!
Decorating the tree with our colorful leaves was a fun activity our family looked forward to every day. Even though our boys were little when we started the thankfulness tree tradition and weren’t able to write their own answers, they were definitely not at a lack of things they were thankful for!
Every morning they would pick their leaf color, tell me what to write, and then run to tape the leaf on the tree.
I will warn you that you may get some “odd” thankful items from your children… last year, the boys listed items like their Halloween costumes, BBQ sauce, and of course their bikes. Allowing your children to express themselves and the happiness in their heart is vital to developing a gratitude mindset. While these items may seem small or silly to us, they may be wildly important to your children. And if we’re honest, their giggle-worthy gratitude items may just help you see some of the things you take for granted.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Brown paper for the bare tree (or a paper bag or butcher paper)
- Different colors of paper for the leave (if you plan on putting your tree in the window, you may want to use scrapbook paper so it doesn’t fade like construction paper will in the sun) — we have a different color for each person in our family
- Thankfulness Tree (bare tree)
- Leaves — or if you have a Cricket cutting machine and a cartridge that contains a leaf cutout… use it! It will be much quicker than cutting by hand!
WHAT TO DO:
- Cut out the bare thankfulness tree and tape/hang it up. We tape ours to our sliding glass door and it blends beautifully with the fallscape outdoors. Taping it to glass also makes it easy to remove and won’t mess up your paint.
- Cut out the leaves. (You could do this all at once or let your child cut out a leaf every day. Remember that scissor skills are critical for your child’s development so allowing them to do the cutting will not only provide a few minutes of fun, but also help them develop and strengthen their motor skills.)
- Every day during the month of November, have each member of your family name something they are thankful for.
- Discuss what makes that person or item so special and the reasons for being grateful for said person/item.
- Write this item on thankfulness on a leaf.
- Tape leaf on the tree.
- By Thanksgiving, you’ll have a full tree showing the beauty of lives full of thankfulness!
- Review your tree on Thanksgiving and praise God for all the wonderful ways you have been blessed!
This is one of my favorite trees we have made. The boys didn’t know how to write yet so I wrote everyone’s answers. You can see in the close ups of the leaves that we have some fun items we were thankful for. These precious answers just make my heart swell and give a little giggle. As the years have gone by, the most important things in our lives still make their way onto the tree. This is such a great activity to appreciate what we have and who we have in our lives.
Praying your family finds blessing abounding all around and countless reasons to be thankful!