How to Teach a Two-Year-Old to be Thankful

Sorry. I don’t have the answer.

But, Saturday as I was giving August some happy Wonder Pets time while taking an afternoon snooze beside him on the couch, I foggily heard Moose (the friendly Nick Jr. ringmaster of sorts) announcing to children that it’s Thankful Month at Nick Jr.

Wow, I thought, right before I went back to my happy dreams, maybe Nick Jr. has a plan for teaching our kids to be thankful!

Hours later, when I recalled my genius thought, I spent a little time searching their website for ideas. They’re kind of fun and they might actually make all of us (grown ups too) a little more grateful as we near our great Thankful celebration.

Here are Nick’s ideas (I’m quoting from their “We Are Thankful” Week 1 Lesson Plans:

  • “This week, get your preschooler thinking about the family and friends that they are thankful for. Talk about the important people in your preschooler’s life and write (or draw) a thank you note together ‘just because.’”
  • Make a “Thanksgiving Tree.” (Of course, Nick Jr. wants it to be a “Dora” Thanksgiving Tree but I think we can ignore their blatant attempts at infiltrating our kids’ minds with media while we try to teach them thankfulness.  They have you print the “Thankful Tree” from the website along with a page of leaves that can be cut out. I think we can just as easily draw for our kids the tree and leaves ahead of time. Cut out the leaves and let your child color them. For each leaf let them tell us something they’re thankful for. We’ll write it on it and paste/tape it to the tree. (It’s probably a little advance for my 2 year old but even if he just colors the leaves, it’s a great idea for getting him to think about gratefulness.)

Does anyone else out there have any other ideas for teaching Thankfulness?

And, readers with no children, do not feel left out! What are you doing this month to train your own mind to be thankful? (You’re allowed to glue leaves on trees too.)


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7 Responses to How to Teach a Two-Year-Old to be Thankful

  1. Andrea

    we do the ‘things we are thankful for’ tree at our house and I LOVE it, I keep it up way into Christmas because it’s just so great to see the things my kids (and my husband and I) come up with after we get past the usual ones. I make the tree and cut out some leaves from construction paper and let the kids cut some out too, then my 7 year old writes on the leaves for himself and his 4yo sister. We talk about it at dinner, it’s great for so many reasons. We’re also starting to deliver food to the food bank to try to put faces to the “not everyone has food so we’re thankful” abstractness that we pray about. I love this time of year for this stuff alone, cold weather I can do without. Thanks for your post!

  2. Kim


    It makes me think about the idea that ‘all knowing is relational’… when I am thankful and verbalize that spirit, it catches on the snags of the other lives I bump up against. I know this because of our friend Lia, who is one of the most thankful people I know. I am more thankful because she talks about her thankfulness it in every conversation I have with her. It has caught on the snags in my life….

    On a practical note, I think I am trying the tree this year! I have done the fill a big container with at least one thing every day you are thankful for before. At the end you have a big bucket of thankful. The visual is a great thing. My other friend has a lovely glass bowl on her counter with smooth stones, each with a Sharpie note of what they have seen God do and they have a little altar of remembrance right there on the kitchen island… beautiful.


    • Kim, so glad you pointed that out about Lia. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what makes her presence so special. You’re right, it’s her thankful spirit. I would love to know how the tree is going. August and I have worked on ours for the past two afternoons. (He’s more interested and frustrated with using tape to stick the leaves to the wall, but that’s cool.) I loved your bucket of thankful and the glass bowl. I’ve always been drawn to the stones of remembrance. Such a lovely idea.

  3. Lauren

    we do a similar thing! this year we have a ‘thankful turkey’ taped to the wall. The body was made by my oldest when he was 3 or so. Every evening we’re all writing a couple of things we’re thankful for on feathers and taping them on the wall. And my oldest (now 6.5) added a lovely piece: after we’ve taped up the day’s gratitude, we all - in unison - read through all the feathers. it’s super-cute. i’ve noticed that my three-year-old tends to name the things he can see at the moment, and since we’re doing this at or after dinner, his feathers are filled with items like ‘food’ and ‘napkins.’ awesome.

    i think one reason rituals like this are so great is that they involve so many of our intelligences - writing, moving, speaking, fine motor, feeling the paper or stones. it’s a much more embodied experience than our listing things at bedtime prayer.

    i also love the idea of writing a thank-you note, just ’cause. i’ll be trying this sometime this month!

  4. Pingback: Thankful Time! « mama:monk

  5. Pingback: …because they are so grateful | mama:monk

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