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Help your kids feel happier with these gratitude-enhancing activities


In these dark weeks, when families are worrying about vulnerable loved ones, coping with school closures, and dealing with other disappointments and anxieties related to the upheaval that has gone on in our lives, thanks to the coronavirus, it’s important to do what we can to boost our mental health. One way to do that is to cultivate a sense of gratitude. So, here is a list of gratitude-related activities, originally compiled in November, but all good ways to greet the lengthening days, as winter turns to spring. All are compatible with social distancing.  

Read also: Resources and tips for SEL (social and emotional learning) while at home


For some amazing ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into sensory activities, head to Lemon Lime Adventures. This page talks about how mindfulness involves accessing all of our senses, and what a perfect introduction to little ones on how to fully engage in and appreciate our surroundings and our physical abilities. You can teach your youngsters to make Calm Down Jars, or simply give them materials to play with and ask questions like, “Do you enjoy the way this feels in your hands?” ​

This M&M Thankful Game uses the colors of the M&Ms to prompt different kinds of appreciations, like food, people, and places. This one can be played after a meal or on the go, and is quick and easy. 

Paper Bag Gratitude Tree. There are lots of ways to display individual appreciations in a beautiful way, and this tree accomplishes just that. It is fun for kids to twist and shape the paper into a 3-D tree trunk with branches, and cut out the leaves themselves. 

Gratitude Stones. This is new to me, but I am completely obsessed. The way it works is this- collect small, flat stones, paint them with a simple design (I like using paint pens), hide them around the house, and each time you see one, you must think of something you are grateful for! It’s simply wonderful. 

Here is a list of 10 Drawing Prompts (Source: Lasso the Moon) that help us think about gratitude, from “draw someone who helps you” to “draw something that makes you laugh.” These drawings can be quick or Pictionary-style, or you can break out the paints or colored pencils and go deeper. 

To tie into the theme of mindfulness and stopping to appreciate our surroundings in the present moment, this lovely podcast called Peace Out is a series of short stories that help children calm down and relax. As they travel through space, children are guided through visualization and breathing exercises. Great for parents, too!