Kim’s Korner: Giving thanks projects

Continuing with things to help your children’s understanding about being thankful, I went back to the site from last week and have put in their Family Activities and Service Projects, both have some really great ideas for giving thanks.

I found all of these activities on

Family Activities: Although some of the below activities are also craft projects, they’re all meant to be done together as a family, along with your guests, on Thanksgiving Day.

Thankful Tablecloth

Purchase a new white tablecloth and some permanent markers. Sharpies work best and won’t come off in the wash. When family and guests are gathered for dinner, have everyone use the markers to write what they’re most grateful for on the tablecloth.

You can put this tablecloth out again year after year, making this activity a family tradition. Family members can look back and reflect on what they wrote in years past. Use a different-colored marker for each year so you’ll know which year each statement is from.

For a variation on this activity, you can do a table runner instead. Or, if you’d rather not have something permanent, you can make a tablecloth or runner from chalkboard fabric, which can be erased and reused.

Thankful Garland

Set up a gratitude station with a container filled with paper leaf cutouts, a jar of markers, and clothespins. In your dining room, or wherever you plan on having your Thanksgiving feast, hang up a string or decorative ribbon. As guests arrive, they can use the leaves to write down things they’re grateful for and then attach them to the ribbon with clothespins. When everyone finishes, you’ll have a festive, meaningful decoration to adorn your feast.

Turkey Jar

Find a clear glass jar, then use paper shapes cut from construction paper to decorate it to look like a turkey body.

Similar to the thankful garland, set up a station with markers and paper cut to look like feathers. Have guests write what they’re thankful for on the feathers and then place them in the turkey jar. For added fun, read the feathers during the Thanksgiving meal and have everyone try to guess who wrote what.

Gratitude Conversation Starters

This one is a spin on the classic practice of going around the table and having everyone share something they’re grateful for. This activity uses targeted questions to deepen the conversation.

Before the feast, write specific questions on strips of paper. These could be plain white strips, different-colored strips, or even feather-shaped strips. Examples of potential questions include:

What event or experience during this past year are you most thankful for?

Who has most influenced your life in a good way this past year and why?

What part of your day are you most thankful for?

Try to steer clear of questions like “What one thing are you most grateful for?” because they encourage a focus on materialism, which runs counter to gratitude. Instead, ask a question like “If you could give one thing to someone you love, what would it be?” This puts the focus on giving and on what might be meaningful to the person receiving the gift.

After composing the questions, put your conversation starters somewhere on the table where you’ll be eating. You can put them all in a jar in the center of the table or tuck them into strategic spots like napkins.

Thanksgiving Time Capsule

Find a jar, preferably a glass one, with an airtight lid. Don’t use a container that could potentially decompose over the year, such as a shoebox. Have all your guests write gratitude statements on strips of paper and put them into the jar. Kids can then help dig a hole in the yard and bury the jar. If you don’t have a yard or don’t want to dig a hole, you can put the jar in a cabinet.

Next Thanksgiving, everyone can dig up the jar and see how things have changed over the year.

Service Projects: While crafts and games can be a lot of fun for kids, nothing helps develop gratitude quite like giving. Service-rich activities give children opportunities to practice feeling empathy for others, to see firsthand how others live, to think about others’ circumstances more deeply, and to make them more aware of the good things in their own lives.

Turn Gratitudes Into Activities

While recognizing what we’re grateful for can certainly help develop a deeper awareness of all the good in our lives, you can take it to the next level by turning all those gratitudes into service-based activities. For example:

If your child is grateful for Dad, they can do something nice for him.

If your child is grateful for their toys, they can donate a toy to Goodwill or help you purchase a toy for a Toys for Tots drive.

If your child is grateful for pie, they can help you bake a pie to take to a neighbor.

If your child is grateful for Grandma and Grandpa, they can paint them a picture.

Write Thankful Notes

Again, it’s one thing to notice what we’re grateful for and a whole other thing to express that gratitude.

Kids can practice expressing gratitude by making a list of all the people they’re grateful for, from their teacher to the mail carrier, and then write each of them a note expressing why they’re thankful for them.

Deliver or Serve Meals to Those in Need

Many people are tragically alone, housebound, or in need this time of year. Kids can help prepare or deliver meals for a service like Meals on Wheels or serve a Thanksgiving meal to the less fortunate at a local church, shelter, or soup kitchen.

Participating in this kind of activity encourages kids to develop empathy and curbs entitlement by showing them how those less fortunate live. It can also teach them about the good feelings that can come from participating in their communities and helping others.

Send a Thank-You Letter to a Member of the Military

Many soldiers in active duty may not be able to go home for the holidays. Kids can help send some holiday cheer by writing a letter of thanks to those who serve, making a holiday card, or packing a box of candy, personal items, or other welcomed gifts.

Many organizations specialize in sending care packages to the military. One of them, with gratitude right in the name, is Operation Gratitude. To send a letter, try A Million Thanks.

Donate Blankets or Coats

Food isn’t the only thing those less fortunate are in need of this time of year. Many who are homeless also lack warm clothes and blankets. You can donate a new or gently used coat through an organization like One Warm Coat or participate in a local coat drive.

If you choose to donate a coat as a service project, be sure to talk with your kids about what you’re doing and to drive home the importance of giving.

Have fun with your children this week, it will make you and them feel better. Keep in mind. I try to do my best to find things that are not a ton of work for you. I wrote everything out on here this week so you don’t have to look anything up.

Let me know any ideas you have or what you would like to see and I’ll get right on it for you. Email me at

Remember to be kind and give thanks to each other and continue to set a good example for our children they need us so much right now. See you all next week!


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