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Teach Kids Gratitude with a Thanksgiving Garland

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Today I have a wonderful guest post from my blogging friend Charlene from Hess Un-Academy.  She shared this beautiful Gratitude Thanksgiving Garland activity that she does with her family.  We loved the idea so much that we also tried it for ourselves!

Gratitude garland for thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to focus on being grateful, and if you are celebrating Thanksgiving with kids, this is also a time of year to teach kids the importance of being grateful.

Activities that teach kids gratitude are very popular this time of year, and for good reason! It can be hard for kids to absorb an important lesson when we just sit down and lecture them, but when we tie an important life skill into a child-friendly activity, the lesson is so much more easily absorbed. And one of our family’s favorite ways to teach kids gratitude is with a Thanksgiving garland.

While the idea of a Thanksgiving garland might seem overwhelming at first, I promise it’s really easy. In this case, when I talk about a Thanksgiving garland, I am really just giving a fancy name to a gratitude-themed paper chain. But you’d be surprised at the impact this paper chain has had on my kids’ attitude of gratitude – and how quickly you’ll be able to see a difference in your own kids, should you decide to give this paper chain a try.

Preparing Your Thanksgiving Garland

Making a Thanksgiving garland or paper chain is really quite easy. First, you need to start with a few stacks of paper. I choose harvest-themed colors and ordered some orange and brown construction paper on Amazon. However, you could use plain white printer paper or multi-colored construction paper if that’s what you happen to have on hand.

supplies for gratitude paper chain

I find it easier to cut all of my paper into strips ahead of time so that the part of the activity the kids are involved in goes a lot smoother. I cut each paper into equal-sized strips, about an inch to an inch and a half wide. You want them to be wide enough to securely hold a staple but narrow enough that they curve nicely.

Now that your strips are cut out, you can store them in a plastic zipper bag. Keep these strips easily accessible so you can enjoy a little bit of this gratitude activity every day from now until Thanksgiving, or do it all in one day. 


The Gratitude Part of the Gratitude Activity

Typically, we start this activity right after Halloween, but you can start it whenever is convenient for you. If you don’t want to think about Thanksgiving activities until the week before Thanksgiving, that’s fine, or if you want to start when the weather starts to turn in September, that’s fine too! It is never a wrong time to teach your kids gratitude.

Gratitude and thankfulness are important life skills for kids to learn, and not just during the holiday season. When your kids learn at a young age to have an attitude of gratitude, they will learn to be humble and happy in all circumstances. And we all want our kids to be happy, right?

paper chain thanksgiving

Whatever day you decide to start, begin by handing each kid a blank paper strip. Tell them to write down something they are grateful for. Feel free to help the littler kids. Bonus – this simple activity also doubles as a mini writing and spelling lesson, so that’s great too!

how to make a paper chain for thanksgiving

Once your kids have each written down something they are grateful for, gather the strips and begin to staple your strips together, into a paper chain. To do this, gently curve your first strip into a circle and staple the ends together. Then take your second strip and weave it through the first circle, then gently curve it into its own circle and staple it together. If done properly, the two should make a 2-link paper chain. 

gratitude garland

Continue weaving, stringing, and stapling your paper strips until you are out of strips to staple. 

thanksgiving activity for kids

Repeat every day, doing your best to encourage your kids to come up with new things to be grateful for each time. For younger kids, coming up with something new can be a bit tricky (my 5-year-old has been thankful for pumpkins three times so far this season) but older kids should be encouraged to think deeper and find less obvious things they are thankful for.

thanksgiving gratitude paper chain

Find a place to hang your paper chain Thanksgiving garland and every day, you and your family can watch it grow! While this simple gratitude activity takes less than five minutes a day to complete, it doesn’t take very long for these lessons to have a huge impact on your kids’ humility. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see for yourself!


You could even take this Thanksgiving garland activity one step further and instead of stopping on Thanksgiving, go all the way to Christmas or even the New Year.


thanksgiving craft- gratitude garland


Charlene Hess spent many years teaching kids in volunteer positions before she had her own kids. She now has 7 kids of her own, whom she has been homeschooling for the last 10 years. Charlene still teaches other children outside of her home but finds great joy in exploring the world with her family. Charlene has participated in many leadership trainings with John C. Maxwell. Charlene and her husband Benjamin blog about homeschooling and success principles for kids at https://hessunacademy.com. Charlene also blogs about homesteading and emergency preparedness at https://thepennedprepper.com.



gratitude garland thanksgiving craft

See More Gratitude Activities:

Gratitude Game

Gratitude Journal

Family Thankful Jar

Thanksgiving Writing Activity

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