Gather the family and explain what it means to be grateful. Give each member a sheet of paper. Set a timer for 3 – 5 minutes depending on the age of the children. Each person should write down things for which they are grateful. Make sure this doesn’t become a list of possessions by limiting “things” to a maximum of 5. Encourage them to write down people, activities, skills, relationships, etc. For each item, they must identify why they are grateful for that item. Younger members can be paired with a parent. Identify the activity as a challenge that comes with a prize to the person with the longest list. When the time is up, have each person read their list. The prize goes to the person with the longest list. If you feel that items on the list are silly, allow the rest of the family to challenge any item on the list. Now compare all the lists. Instruct everyone to circle items that are unique to their list. You can optionally give a prize to the person with the most unique items. Now look at the lists together and ask how many of these items generated a thank you note to someone. Pick out several items on each person’s list and have them write thank-you notes. The notes do not have to be long, nor should they include that it was generated as part of a game. Help each child to write the note and encourage honesty and sincerity. This exercise can be performed frequently to get the family focused on creating an attitude of gratitude.
To process the activity, ask these or similar questions:
- Was it difficult to list things for which you are grateful?
- Could you have written longer once you got started?
- How did you feel after writing down all of these blessings?
- Do you think being grateful on a daily basis would make you happier?
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