Here are 7 tips to help develop a healthy gratitude practice in your family:
Modeling Gratitude - By noticing, appreciating, and using descriptive language to express what we feel grateful for we are helping to create fertile ground for gratitude to flourish. As teachers we are very aware to model gratitude by noticing and appreciating the little humans around us as well as our environment and the wonders of the natural world. By using vivid descriptive language that emphasizes the positive we are supporting a rich vocabulary and reinforcing that the world is a good place. What you focus on grows.
Gratitude Rituals - At ACG we incorporate daily rituals that focus on gratitude. We sing a gratitude song before we eat together and share what we are grateful for while we are eating. At the end of our day.we share something that we especially liked about our day. We also have a kindness jar that the children or teachers add pom poms to when we notice another child being helpful or kind. At home families can express gratitude at dinner or before bedtime. Writing thank you cards is a wonderful gratitude activity - even younger kids can make a drawing and learn the art of expressing thanks.
Gratitude Games - Make gratitude fun and play games that reinforce an attitude of gratitude - see some of our examples below.
Gratitude Journals - Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful tool to create more awareness of our blessings and express gratitude - below we have detailed suggestions on ways to keep a gratitude journal with children.
Being Helpful and Making a Contribution - Involving children in the work that goes into daily living helps them to better understand why gratitude is important. At home young children can:
- Set and clear the table.
- Dust the furniture.
- Feed pets.
- Pick up toys.
- Help to cook meals.
- Carry in some groceries.
- Mop areas with help.
At ACG the children help to take care of our garden, tidy up our environment, and prepare healthy food together. We love to see their self esteem blossom as they make a contribution.
Read Books About Gratitude - Kids learn so much from stories and picture books. Selecting books that focus on expressing thanks helps to support a thriving gratitude practice. We love "The Thank You Book" by Mo Willems, "All the World" by Liz Garton Scanlon, and "Bear Says Thanks" by Karma Wilson.
Saying "No" Sometimes - By resisting the urge to give children everything they want all the time or everything we wanted when we were children we avoid creating a sense of entitlement and teach our children to appreciate the times we say "yes".
Here are some fun ways we practiced gratitude at ACG this month:
Say What You Love is another fun gratitude game we often play together to inspire kids to focus on what they are grateful for - some kids will get really enthusiastic with their heartfelt appreciation: " I love ice cream! I love the moon! I love dragons! I love coloring! I love my toys! I love hugs! I love swimming..." Their joyful expression is contagious!
1. Create the journal
Bind together different colors of construction paper. Encourage your child to decorate a cover for the journal using markers, crayons, stickers or photographs. On each blank page of the notebook, write “I am grateful for” at the top. We tried to leave several blank pages for you to continue the process at home.
2. Integrate journaling into your child’s routine
Determine the best 5-10 minutes each day for your family to sit down and journal without interruptions. Have your child draw, write or describe to you items that he is grateful for. Consistency is key for developing a habit, so try to follow the same sequence of events each day (i.e. dinner time, journal time, bath time, bed time). Even pre-verbal children can benefit from gratitude journals as they can understand so much of what we are saying and their artwork has meaning.
3. Give prompts if needed
Expressing gratitude might not come easily at first for your child and that’s okay. Prompt him by asking questions, such as “Who is a family member or friend you are grateful for and why?”, “What is one thing you enjoyed doing today?” or “What is one of your favorite toys?” Ask your child to draw a picture and if age appropriate, write a few words describing the drawing. Model positive behavior by sharing your own moment of gratitude for the day.
4. Set small goals
Set a short term goal with your child, such as journalling each day for a month. At the end of the month, remind your child of the fun they had by reviewing the entries together. You might be surprised to learn that your child wants to continue using the gratitude journal! If so, brainstorm a new goal and create a new journal if necessary.
- 2 carrots, chopped 1/2 moons
- 1 delicata squash, de-seeded, chopped small cubes
- 1 sweet potato chopped small triangles
- 1 purple turnip, chopped small cubes
- 2 cups collards, chopped bite size
- 1 cup dinosaur kale, chopped bite size
- 1 cup sorrell, chopped bite size
- 1 handful rosemary, chopped fine
- 1 handful parsley, chopped fine
- 1 handful sage, chopped fine
- 2 TBS coconut oil
- Salt to taste
Sauté the root veggies and half of the fresh herbs with a pinch of salt until their fragrance is released. Add the greens, another pinch of salt, and add water just to cover the veggies. Bring to a boil, then cook on a low simmer for about 20 minutes until all the veggies are tender. Add salt to taste and garnish with the other half of the fresh herbs.
When encouraging the kids to eat new vegetables we love to ask them questions to help them feel more friendly with new foods:
- Can you see any of the vegetables we picked from the garden?
- Can you smell any of the herbs from the garden?
- Do you see any shapes in the soup?
- What happened to the color of the purple turnips?
- Taste your soup, would you like to add more salt or fresh herbs?
Give thanks to the mother earth
Give thanks to the father sun
Give thanks to the plants in the garden
Give thanks to the plants in the garden
Where the mother and father are one
(A big thanks to the Welch-Curry family for sharing this with us many years ago! With four kids they have been the longest attending family at ACG!)
I bow to mother earth
I lift to father sky
I open to the sun and the clouds passing by
I welcome the rain that flows to the sea
I honor the kindness in you and in me
A HUGE thank you to all the families who donated pumpkins for us to play with!
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 TBSP pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease mini muffin pan. Put all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix until smooth. Spoon into greased muffin pan and bake for 13 to 18 minutes.