There are many great ideas out there to help children learn gratitude. Honestly, I don’t think you can ever focus on this too much. Of course, in the month of November everyone is looking for fun ideas to help foster thankfulness. Making a kid’s Gratitude Tree for Thanksgiving is at the top of my list of favorite activities.
Family Tradition ~
I started this AWESOME activity with my kids years ago. Through the years, I have found this to be one of those projects that all ages enjoy. What’s even better is that the fun goes on throughout the whole month of November. I would draft a letter each year to print out and send to all of our friends and family members. Seriously, the more you send out the better. If you would like the kids to help, they can address the envelopes, stick on return address labels or adhere the stamps.
This project takes some time, but it is WELL WORTH the effort. Swordfights & Starry Nights has done a great job on writing about this amazing activity as well: Click here to see Swordfights & Starry Nights Gratitude Tree project!
They did such a great job of explaining the process of how they made the tree. Be sure to check out the link above for detailed instructions.
The Letter to Mail Out ~
You must first draft a letter (or use the one I have included below) explaining what your project is all about. Explain that your family is making a Gratitude Tree and you would love for them to be a part of it. Tell them you have included one leaf for each member of their family. They should write what they are thankful for on their individual leaves.
Once each family finishes their leaves, they are asked to return them back to you. All of the returned leaves will help create a very colorful Tree of Gratitude. This letter needs to go out to everyone in early November so there is ample time to receive them back. The following link is ready for you to print and send out right away. Click here for FREE Thankfulness Tree Letter to Mail to Family and Friends!
While your letters are printing, you can begin the next step.
Cutting Out Leaves ~
This part can get time consuming so you will want all hands on deck! There are many options of getting the leaves ready to be mailed out:
Download these free leaves templates and cut them out. There are three pages here to allow for a colorful kid’s Gratitude Tree. A blank box has been inserted in the middle of each leaf for easier writing . A picture is included below for you to look over. Keep in mind that these leaves have more detailed edges which requires more intricate cutting. However, if kids understand they do not have to be “perfect” this step will go much smoother.
If you like this option, you can download the templates here: Use this link to print the 3 different pages of Thankfulness leaves!
Real Imprints has a wonderful page dedicated to the Grateful Tree. She has included 3 different size of leaf stencils for you to print out. I would print these on card stock paper in different colors. She also includes how she makes the tree (which we will discuss later). This is a perfect rendition of the tree the kids and I would make each year so check it out. Free Printables of the Grateful Tree from Real Imprints
There are several places you can purchase pre-cut leaves. I would recommend this option if you are short on time….or patience! Personally, our family found it fun to work on the leaves together, but I do understand that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Here are some good options for locating ready to go leaves:
*Hobby Lobby ~ they have some pretty ones on nice card stock. They are a bit smaller than I like, but they will definitely work.
*Michael’s Craft Store
*Amazon ~ As always, there are several options here:
Set of 50 Yellow “I Am Thankful For” Leaves ~ These will create one beautiful solid color tree. The leaves are all pre-printed with the beginning phrase, “I am thankful for…”
Set of 9 different leaf styles and 7 different colors to make a colorful Gratitude Tree ~ Would you like a colorful fall tree? No need to look further! The leaves are not pre-printed which gives the option for each person to write it as they wish.
Set of orange, yellow & brown all maple leaves for one style Gratitude Tree ~ An option for those who prefer all of the leaves to be the same style yet still add some color.
Make a List ~
Make a list of every family you are sending the letter to. After each family name, write the number of leaves you will need to include in the envelope. This is a fun way to work on counting with smaller children. For those who are a bit older, it is a good lesson on sorting as they choose different colors for each family.
Assemble and Mail ~
Have everyone help in folding the letters and include the correct number of leaves in each one. Let the children mark off each family on the list as it is completed. Apply your return address and stamp. Now go mail those babies out! Phew! BIG PROJECT…LOTS OF FUN!!!
Creating the Tree ~
You can choose to do this part now or wait a few days. I always liked to go ahead and make the tree and let the kids fill out a couple of leaves themselves. This helps them to see what you are creating together. They will get more excited as the leaves start to be returned. My kids looked forward to going to the mailbox each day to see if there were any new ones they had received. It doesn’t take long for this kid’s gratitude tree for Thanksgiving to come to life!
The most important thing to remember is that perfection is not key here. Just make the tree and it will come together as you fill it with leaves. I used a roll of butcher paper and started with a large tree trunk. We assembled our tree on a door in our kitchen so that everyone could easily watch it slowly fill up. After your trunk is drawn, start adding branches. When this is complete, cut it out and adhere to the door or wall.
I many times get lucky and find rolls of butcher paper for the kid’s Gratitude Tree for Thanksgiving at the Dollar Tree. If you do not have luck doing this, here is a handy link from Amazon: Click here for brown Kraft butcher paper roll.
A Blooming Tree ~
As the leaves start getting returned, let the kids start putting the leaves on the various branches your have drawn. It doesn’t take long for this beautiful tree to burst with colorful leaves of thankfulness. The whole family will enjoy reading the different responses. This also helps them to understand the many, many things we all have to be thankful for.
Save those Leaves ~
When Thanksgiving has passed, it is time to disassemble the tree. I chose to save the leaves every year. This has proven to be a very beautiful thing. As each year passes, it is fun to look back on what everyone was thankful for each year. Have those things changed or stayed the same? Also, as we unfortunately lose some of our beloved family members, it creates great memories to hold on to. A perfect example is this little gem I recently came across….
One of my dad’s leaves!!! Oh how happy I am to have this very special leaf!!!!
I hope you all find this craft to be a very worthwhile experience. My family sure did!
Happy Thanksgiving to all~