Teaching Your Kids Gratitude Using a Thanksgiving Tree Tradition

Teach your kids the practice of gratitude through Bible verses using a Thanksgiving Tree to focus on the true reason for the season.

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Teaching gratitude

TEACHING GRATITUDE TO YOUR KIDS

Thanksgiving is often overlooked as it squeezes in between candy-filled Halloween and the presents of Christmastime.

A few years ago I became more intentional in the way I approached November. I made a habit of pointing out to my children that it’s a month of practicing gratitude, a skill which can benefit you for a lifetime.

We usually write down a list of things to be thankful for. However, this year I wanted to take the focus off of material things that usually crowd our list. I pointed our kids to gratitude practices in the Bible by creating my own gratitude tree.

Each night my children take turns choosing a leaf and hanging it on the tree. We used tiny clothespins, but you can use tape or string to tie them on. Each leaf has one thing from the Bible that we can be thankful for and a Bible verse to go with it. As we approach Thanksgiving, our tiny tree fills up with a list of Biblical things to be grateful for.

This is a great way for us to practice reading our Bibles each day and to help train my kids on how to find Bible verses on their own.

I like to place our tree on the dinner table so that we can talk about what we’re thankful for that day, or use the ideas in our mealtime prayer. Having it in front of us each nights helps remind us to be thankful throughout the day. It keeps gratitude at the center of our focus for the month, instead of complaining or arguing at the dinner table.

I’m so excited to share these with you and hope that you are inspired to start this new tradition with your family this November!

ORDER YOUR OWN THANKSGIVING TREE ORNAMENTS

I’ve created a set of 30 printable Thanksgiving Tree Ornaments (one for each day in November) that you can use to teach your kids how to be more grateful this season. You can print a full-color set for your family or individual sets for each of your children to have their own tree. I’ve also included black and white versions to use as coloring pages for a fun activity.

**NOTE: The tree is not included, but we use the 20″ Tabletop Tree Light if you need a recommendation. I love it because it’s battery operated and lights up!**

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Happy Turkey Day!

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14 Service Projects for Kids and Families

Find service projects for kids you can do together as a family this month to make a difference in the life of someone in need.

TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN THE VALUE OF HELPING OTHERS

When I was a child, my parents signed us up as a family to sponsor a child in Uganda. Every night at the dinner table we prayed for this little girl that we did not know and would never meet. I still remember writing her letters and the excitement of receiving a yearly photo to see what she looked like.

It was a teachable moment for me and my siblings. We couldn’t write to her about how much stuff we had gotten for Christmas and our family photos needed to be simple–outside by a tree without showing the four bedroom home we lived in. It wasn’t about deceit, it was about humility.

We learned to tithe in church and to visit the elderly—even when it was uncomfortable. I was expected to go on mission trips with my youth group and send cards to people my age who didn’t have many friends.

THE GREATEST COMMAND

It was taught to me at a young age, that people matter, and that Jesus calls us to love one another, regardless of skin color, age, even beliefs. We are called to simply love the people around us.

We don’t need to inform our children on every current event happening in the world right now, we need to put into action what Jesus said was the greatest commandment of all:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

So let’s teach our children how to love others just as Jesus did. Let’s show them that everyone is equally important and worthy of love.

Here are a few service projects for kids you can try as a way to teach your children the value of helping and loving others.

1. HELP DISASTER VICTIMS

FROM HOME: Raise money to donate to the Red Cross for those with urgent humanitarian needs.

GET OUT THERE: Volunteer with the Red Cross to help with disaster relief.

2. HELP ANIMALS

FROM HOME: Adopt a pet from your local animal shelter.

GET OUT THERE: Volunteer to work with animals.

3. HELP YOUR COMMUNITY

FROM HOME: Help support a local park by donating to the National Park Service.

GET OUT THERE: Organize a clean-up crew in your neighborhood through Keep America Beautiful.

4. HELP CHILDREN

FROM HOME: Sponsor a child from another country. Monthly donations provide food, shelter, education, and medicine for your child. You can even write letters and send pictures.

GET OUT THERE: Join Big Brothers Big Sisters and become a role model by playing games and getting to know a child in need in your community.

kid service projects

5. HELP THE ELDERLY

FROM HOME: Assemble walker or wheelchair bags to mail to seniors in nursing homes.

GET OUT THERE: Visit a nursing home and play cards with the locals.

kid service projects

6. HELP THE SICK

FROM HOME: Knit hats to send to cancer patients.

GET OUT THERE: Grab some friends and go on a walk/run to raise money for cancer research.

kid service projects

7. HELP THE POOR

FROM HOME: Donate gently used clothes and items to Salvation Army or places that help others.

GET OUT THERE: Find a homeless shelter and work in the soup kitchen.

kid service projects

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You are making a difference!

kids service project

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How to Start Friendships as a New Stay at Home Mom

It can be hard meeting moms to form new friendships–especially transitioning from the working world to being a stay at home mom. Learn how I navigated loneliness in my own season of motherhood.

FROM WORKING MOM TO STAY AT HOME MOM

I taught second grade for four years. I was a working woman with my own paycheck and daily routine. Weekends were reserved for getting the house organized, hanging out with friends and grading papers.

But when I decided to quit working to become a stay at home mom, I had no idea how difficult the transition would be. When my son was born, I struggled with post-partum depression, and going from an energetic, creative career to solo days alone with a newborn was wearing on me.

I addressed my depression with my doctor and got the help I needed, but not being around other women, I felt more lonely than I’d ever been in my entire life.

I was surrounded by a community of people I interacted with on a daily basis—until now. Now I sat at home and changed dirty diapers, fed and burped my baby and tried to keep myself sane. We’d get out and go places, but I did it all alone.

MAKE ONE FRIEND AT A TIME

All of my friends were working. The only stay at home mom I knew at the time was a friend who lived an hour and a half away.

I told her I was lonely and needed someone to hang out with. I confided in her my depression and to my surprise, she had a similar story—and was eager to help me.

So for two months, I got in my car and drove 1.5 hours each way to have someone to hang out with while my husband was at work.

It was heaven.

She introduced me to her group of stay at home mom friends and explained that she didn’t have many friends when she quit her job to stay home either.

She told me her method of meeting moms, that she started hanging out with one friend, who invited another, then another, and years later, she now had a group of 15 moms that she hung out with once a week!

They would drop off their older kids at school, someone would host and provide breakfast and they would hang out until it was time for school pickup. They would change diapers in the middle of the floor, or breast feed without a cover while they snacked on muffins and coffee. We were allowed to be real and help one another. No topic was off limits.

mom friendships

START YOUR OWN MEETING MOMS GROUP

I loved it but it wasn’t sustainable for me to continue doing this. The drive was getting to me and my son would get cranky. So I tried out her plan of starting my own group in my town.

My first friend wasn’t even someone I knew. I started with a neighbor across the street I saw playing with her daughter in the front yard. I asked her if she’d like to come over to play with the kids together. To my relief, she said yes!

I made muffins and we changed diapers in the living room.

The next time I asked her over, I told her about my friend’s group of women that met on Thursdays. She loved it. She invited one friend, and from there, our group grew!

When I saw that first friendship grow so easily, I learned to become more bold and approach people around town. I talked to moms at church, at the mall, at the playground. Turns out, the more I met people, the more I realized there were a lot of other lonely moms out there.

mom friendships

LEARN TO BE MORE APPROACHABLE

The process of meeting moms is a lot like dating. You’ll have to put yourself out there. See who your kids gravitate to on the playground, and talk to their moms.

Exchange numbers and follow up by inviting them over for coffee! If they don’t respond, don’t beat yourself up. But if they do, enjoy your new mom friendship!

Another way to meet people is to volunteer. You don’t have to get a sitter to do this! I asked my church if they needed help posting on social media and worked on it at home. I met friends through putting myself out there and was asked to do some other volunteer opportunities where I could bring my son along.

As an introvert, I often have trouble trying to figure how to keep a conversation going. I feel the need to talk to fill up space. But my husband (who is a salesman and extrovert) taught me something simple that has changed the way I talk to people.

Ask questions.

That’s it.

Want to have an engaging conversation? Ask the person about their life. This way you don’t feel like you’re having a one-sided conversation and you’re much more approachable.

mom friendships

BE OPEN TO RECEIVING HELP

Another way to start mom friendships is to allow yourself to be helped. When my son was throwing tantrums, I had someone ask if I needed help. The best thing I ever did was say yes to her.

7 years later, we’re still close friends.

If someone asks if you need anything, tell them!

Yes I need a nap, a shower and time to run an errand.

I’ve found that old ladies in your community want to be asked for help! I have received so much encouragement and mentorship experiences because I reached out to older women in my church.

Ask for help, friend. Don’t do this alone.

Making mom friendships for me didn’t happen overnight, but overtime I learned a few ways to connect with others.

It was uncomfortable, and scary at times, but I was determined to make some friends—and you can too!

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One of the sections in my Goal Setting Workbook is on finding your community. This is such a vital part of personal growth. I would love to help guide you in this process in making mom friendships. You can order my Goal Setting Workbook here for an instant download:

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You’ve got this!

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