Typically, I don’t think of gratitude as a spiritual discipline, but I’m beginning to wonder… if I want to have a heart of gratitude, must I first have eyes to see the gifts I want to be grateful for? Is gratitude a spiritual discipline that must be cultivated and practiced more than simply an attitude I can choose day to day? I learned that in order to keep my focus on all God has given me, I need a gratitude journal. Ann Voskamp recommends writing down three things a day, every day for an entire year = 1,095 gifts!
Maybe you are already there. I have many miles to go, but I am excited for the journey! If you want your children to join in, consider this sweet gratitude journal for kids. I like that my four year old who is not writing yet, is provided with other ways to journal about his gratitude through drawing or coloring!
As we recap our month of gratitude I would love to hear what activities your family connected with best. My boys all agreed that the Hush! activity was their favorite.
We defined gratitude as saying thank you with our words AND our heart! As I introduced the WOW word, I asked the boys questions like, “What does gratitude look like? How do we show gratitude to God?”
When telling the Bible Story, I use peg people and felt, because my boys really love manipulating the objects and helping me “tell the story,” However, my oldest enjoys hearing this straight from the Bible! You may want to read it from your favorite children’s Bible.
Story-Telling Tips from Erin the SLP
- When you get to a word your child may not know, pause and say something like “leprosy…hmm what do you think that is?” You are modeling for them what good readers do! Good readers stop and discuss when they do not know what a word means.
- Give them synonyms when you are reading, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us…” They are saying, have pity on us! I wonder if he needs help?
- Present opportunities to get up and move during the story! “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He THREW HIMSELF AT JESUS’ FEET and THANKED HIM.” What do you think that looked like? The leper seems like he was thanking Jesus with his words AND his heart. His actions give us a window into his heart of gratitude. (Give your child a chance to act this out.)
- Pray to end your reading of God’s word. You could ask your child to pray and show gratitude to God or you may want to lead a prayer. “God, thank you for Jesus! Make us more like the leper who showed Him gratitude! In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
My favorite part is wondering with the boys at the end. “I wonder if I have ever been like the ungrateful lepers? I wonder if I’ve ever asked God for something and forgotten to come back and say thank you? I wonder if I’ve ever had so much gratitude that I have thrown myself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him?”
Gratitude Challenge- Each time your child spontaneously says, “Thank you!” or shows gratitude, they add a pop dot to the challenge sheet. (My kids love these pop dot markers!)
After the first week, increase your expectations for showing gratitude. For younger children: after they say, “Thank you,” encourage them to be more specific –“Thank you for . . .Be sure and give your child an extra pop dot for making eye contact, a critical social skill that lets the person know you are talking to them! For older children: encourage them to give a compliment after they say, “Thank you!” For example, “Thank you for my lunch. Peanut butter and bananas are my favorite.” Lastly, make the connection that we show gratitude to God when we talk to Him during our prayers and thank Him for His creation, family, blessings, and even trials. When children show gratitude to God they also earn a dot(s) on the chart!
*Disclaimer: Manners and gratitude are not the same thing. However, this quote by Ann Voskamp helped me realize the value of calling out the good. Noticing things to be thankful for is the first step in creating a heart of gratitude!
“Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won’t see it. It is, not merely unnoticed, but in the full clear sense of the word, unseen.”
Gratitude Scavenger Hunt- Read more about our adventures cultivating gratitude through nature here.
Click here to read about our Favorite Books on Gratitude. We also have a bookmark that includes questions to ask before, during, and after reading. These questions target print awareness, phonological awareness, listening comprehension, empathy, and provide connections with our WOW word. I typically choose 2-3 questions TOTAL, to ask during each book.
We turned a typical Taco Tuesday into a family fiesta by making homemade guacamole, playing Latino music, and adding a twist to our gratitude challenge! I told the boys to try and only show gratitude using the Spanish word, ‘gracias’ for the rest of the night. This was such a sweet time! In fact, they loved it so much they asked if we could have a Chinese Festival the next night…I wasn’t quite prepared for that.
Whether you use Sign Language or speak Spanish, French, or Mandarian, gratitude is shown all over the world! The boys loved using a globe to locate the different countries where these languages were spoken and then practiced saying thank you in the different languages. If you have a baby at home, encourage your older child to teach them the sign for “thank you.” The printable for this activity is available here.
- The Ten Lepers (O Give Thanks) -The Wonder Kids
- Praise You With A Dance- Casting Crowns
- Forever- Chris Tomlin
- Psalm 63 Better Than Life- Seeds Family Worship
- Glory to God Forever- Fee
Make the connection that singing praises to God is another way to show Him gratitude! Our family had a few rough patches this week but it’s amazing how listening to a song can seem to change the direction of our day. Glory to God Forever, by Fee says “…You gave me breath so I could praise your great and matchless name all my days…”
Idioms can be difficult for children to grasp but their understanding of figurative language has a direct correlation with their listening and later reading comprehension! My seven year old enjoyed drawing what he thought this idiom meant before we read the book. When we finished reading, we talked and laughed about what this idiom really means and how it connects to gratitude!
Writing God’s word on our heart means knowing it so that no matter where we are, we always have the truth with us. These gloves helped the boys remember and retell the story of The Ten Lepers. Printable directions and patterns needed for this adorable activity are sent through our email list and also may be downloaded here.