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Playful Activities to Teach Children About Gratitude

In this video you will find playful activities to encourage children to practice gratitude. It also includes some information about research that has shown the benefits of practicing gratitude, including how this impacts joyfulness in people’s lives. At the end, you will find a short video clip demonstrating one of the activities.


  1. Choose a rock that you can call “The Magic Rock” and have the children say something that they are grateful for at the end of each day. This can be something that you do at the dinner table. You can word the question in several ways:
    1. What is something that happened today that you are grateful for?
    2. What was the best thing about your day that made you feel grateful?
  1. Make a Gratitude Wheel with your children: For younger children, you can use this printable where children name things that they feel grateful for in different areas of their life. You can have them put toys that represent those things that they are grateful for or you can just use the wheel to assist the children in thinking and sharing. And for older children and teens, you can make an art project where they include all these elements inside a circle. Whether you are a professional working with children or a parent or family member, this can be an activity that helps in identifying positive things in the child’s life. If the child is going through a hard time emotionally for whatever reason or if they are low income, this can be a great opportunity to identify things that money can’t buy and that are important or it can also be eye-opening to the child to see that there are things to be grateful for even in the midst of a hard time or a lack of wealth. If they can’t find anything that they are grateful for, then it could be a good opportunity to help the child express how they are hurting and accompanying them in their pain.
  1. Play “The Thanksgiving Game”: I created this game to help my children learn about the feeling of gratitude and I have updated it this year to make it more reflective. You give each person a few charms or it can be game chips, and you put a set of charms or chips next to the turkey found on the board game (I bought a separate turkey but you definitely don’t have to do that). Each person takes a turn rolling the die, moving through the board game and drawing a card to talk about different things that they are grateful for. Each person gets a charm or chip each time they answer a question. The winner is the one who makes it first to the finish star. If the game goes too fast, you can play it again as many times as you would like. I included things in the game cards that are related to hugging and giving kisses but you can leave those out depending on what is appropriate in your context. So definitely go through the cards and choose the ones you want to include.

Resources and Links

Resources and printables for “The Thanksgiving Game”:

1. “The Thanksgiving Game” instructions:

2. This is “The Thanksgiving Board game” printable:

3. This is “The Thanksgiving Game” game cards printable:

Optional Materials for “The Thanksgiving Game”:

1. These are the charms that I got for “The Thanksgiving Game” (you can use game chips from games that you already own or even cereal like Cheerios):

2. Game chips (not appropriate if there are babies or very young children around):

3. This is a plush turkey if you want to buy one for the game:

4. Paper cups to place the charms or chips (if you don’t want these, plates or even the surface where you are playing would do):

5. Foam dice (you can use regular dice from another game that you have):

6. Game pawns (you can use pawns from a game that you already have, or even toys that you have):

Printables for the “Gratitude Wheel”:

1. This is the “Gratitude Wheel” for young children:

2. This is the “Gratitude Wheel” guide for older children and teens- You use this wheel to help the children and teens think about what to include in their own gratitude art wheel project:

3. This is the blank “Gratitude Wheel” template that you can give to older children and teens so that they can create their art project:

Articles/chapters/books where you can find research about the benefits of practicing gratitude:

1. “The Gifts of Imperfection”, book by Brené Brown (2010): Chapter 16: How Gratitude Enhances Well-being: What we Know, What we need to know, in

2. “Designing Positive Psychology: Taking Stock and Moving Forward” (2011):

3. Gratitude and Wellbeing: The benefits of appreciation (Sansone & Sansone, 2010:

Other Resources:

1. 30 Day Gratitude Challenge for Kids and Families (Meehan, 2021) – I took some of the questions for “The Thanksgiving Game” from these resources:

2. 12 crafty Thanksgiving activities for kids:

3. “The Magic”, book by Rhonda Byrne (2012) – This book talks about many ways to practice gratitude as an adult and it is where I got “The Magic Rock” activity idea from: 4. Other Gratitude Wheel art ideas:

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