Our absolute favorite family games and activities to encourage gratefulness for children from 4 years to teens.
If a mom with little ones would ask me, “What are 3 things I should focus on teaching my kids while they are little?”
I would say, these are the five seeds we’ve planted and are continuously watering in our children–faith, integrity, gratitude, love and service. I know she asked for 3 but these are the 5 we’ve intentionally been tilling the soil for the past 12 years in our little ones.
As they get older we will focus on some other wonderful character traits like courage, responsibility, hard work… but when they are little I want to set a firm foundation of these 5 pillars in their life.
So in this post I’m going to focus on Gratitude! Thankfulness is something we practice all year long but we intentionally focus on it during this month so here are some ideas you can do with your kids that don’t take more than 5 minutes and are fun.
Our Absolute Favorite Family Games and Activities to Encourage Gratefulness
- Best & Worst— Go around and have everyone share the best thing that happened to them and a hard moment of the day. Then when they are done sometimes others empathize with the persons worst. You don’t want to do this eveytime but you can say, “If you discover any diamonds in that hard situation, let me know when you do.” This gets them to start processing how to find the good in the midst of the bad of what life dishes out.
- Gratitude prompts/conversation starters— We currently have a jar sitting at our table with scripture gratitude prompts. The simple questions get us thinking and practicing gratitude. I have a whole list of printables here:
– 21 Days of Gratitude Family Prompts
-Gratitude Prompt cards! Click Here
-Spanish Gratitude Prompt Cards! Click HERE
– Gratitude Prompts with Scripture
- I Like Game— After dinner have everyone walk around the house and take turns saying what you like in that room, your life, your house, your school, your job… You can even do this activity in the car or while walking. Each person takes turn sharing what they see as you drive or walk by that they like or are thankful for. This helps your kids start thinking about the abundant life they live.
- Gratitude Hike– We love going on walks in our neighborhood and hiking so we’ve done this a lot even when it’s not Thanksgiving.
- Gratitude Quotes– Share a quote about Gratitude and discuss your thoughts about it during your meal, car ride from school or errand you’re running. I found a list of them here that you can print off.
- Gratitude Balloon– I really like this for a family devotional time. The object lesson is on gratitude and how we have to exercise it just like a muscle, the more we fill our day with gratitude, the less time there is for complaints. The air going into the balloon is the gratitude and the more we fill it with gratitude the more we create joy in our hearts. Create your own gratitude balloon by blowing up a balloon and then writing “gratitude” on it. Read psalms 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord…
- Gratitude Journal– We did this activity over the summer and basically what we did at dinner is write down as many things we could think of that we were thankful for in that day and then we would share it.
- Count Your Blessings Dinner Song and then share something you’re thankful for. Remember good old “count your blessings one by one” song? If you don’t google it or choose another song that focuses on gratitude.
- Read books about Generosity, Empathy, Kindness and Sacrifice
- An Attitude of Gratitude game – This is currently our favorite game. For this game you’ll need a timer, paper and tiles or dice with the alphabet on it. You can do this individually with a group or split up into at least 2 teams.
First, choose a letter with your alphabet tile or dice. Then each team has 2 minutes to write a list of 10 things they are grateful for that start with that letter.
One person writes down the responses but all members of your team need to help come up with the list in 2 minutes that start with the chosen letter. If you’re working individually then each person needs to make their own list.
After the 2 minutes are up each team/individual shares their responses. To make it more competitive you can see who comes up with the most items beyond 10. You can also spice it up by objecting to the responses. For example the letter is F and one team wrote “fleas” so you can say, “I challenge that answer!” Then ask questions–How can anyone be thankful for fleas? Then they have a chance to convince you and explain their answer. If it’s done individually then you can vote with thumbs up or down. It’s deleted if it doesn’t make the vote.
- Send thank you notes. All of you sit down for 5 minutes and write thank you notes to others like teachers, grandparents, neighbors, friends, church leaders, community helpers…
- ABC’s of Gratitude – Sometimes I need something as simple as the ABC’S to get me thinking about thankfulness. Go around the table and go through the alphabet and share something that starts with that letter you’re thankful for. You can go here for a free printable!
- Headbanz Thankfulness game– It’s our version of Headbanz with a Thanksgiving twist— you can find this fun game over here. We’ve had a lot of fun playing this the week of Thanksgiving and it’s also the perfect game for your Thanksgiving gathering.
- Thanksgiving Charades –Write what you’re thankful for on a piece of paper. Place it in a bag and then have everyone pick one out that is not there own. Take turns acting it out and guessing what it is. You can even add an additional challenge and have the person who is acting it out guess who they think that belongs to. We played this last year and it was seriously hilarious.
- Thankfulness Memory Game -Each family member takes turns sharing one thing that he/she is thankful for. Before you share you have to remember everyone else’s blessings after adding your own!
- Go on a gratitude walk or hike. This is a great article with some ideas to practice gratitude and enjoy some physical activity.
- Random Acts of Kindness – Handing out fresh flowers to people waiting in the hospital. Write thank you cards. Here’s a long list of random acts of kindness summer ideas or this I Spy Random Acts of Kindness Jar or this Acts of Kindness Coin Jar!
- Gratitude Photo Challenge – Have them use a phone to take pictures of the things they were grateful for that day or on your trip. Then at dinner or bedtime you can share.
These games and activities are a fun way to remember and to teach our kids that thankfulness is a choice we have to make every day of our life. We are not born with the desire to always want to give thanks especially when things are hard.
And for some of us, it’s a lot harder to lean into being grateful but with God’s grace we can ask Him to help us lean into gratitude.