Next week we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. This time of year brings an opportunity for us to talk with the little ones in our care about the importance of practicing gratitude and thankfulness for the things and the people that we have in our lives. In this article, we share a few simple thankfulness activities to encourage young children to express appreciation as part of their Thanksgiving celebration…and to enjoy saying thank you throughout the year!
The Benefits of Expressing Thankfulness
While giving thanks is something that we tend to think about around the Thanksgiving holiday, having a gratitude practice is beneficial at any time!
In an article for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, writes, “Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions…[and] allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life.” Practicing gratitude during early childhood helps young learners be more present and aware, which in turn equips them to cope with challenges that might arise during the transition into elementary school.
Expressing thankfulness is also a great exercise for building communication skills. Meghan Fitzgerald, founder of Tinkergarten, explains the positive impact on little learners when they hear their adult care providers express gratitude: “Expressing what you’re thankful for encourages the use of rich language. We often use marvelous descriptors in this sharing, exposing kids to rich vocabulary words and giving them a forum to use those kinds of words themselves. And using that expressive, positive language to describe the world — emphasizing the good — greatly influences how we experience our lives.”
Thankfulness Songs for Young Children