What Is A Gratitude Tree – Making A Gratitude Tree With Kids

A tree made of string and buttons on a brown piece of paper
(Image credit: kpalimski)

It’s hard to be grateful about the good things when one big thing after another goes wrong. If that sounds like your year, you aren’t alone. It’s been a pretty bleak period for many people and that has a way of putting gratitude on a back shelf. Ironically, this type of moment is when we need gratitude the most.

Since some things are going right, some people have been kind and some things have turned out better than we hoped. One way to remember this – and teach our kids the importance of gratitude in the process – is putting together a gratitude tree with kids. If this craft project interests you, read on.

What is a Gratitude Tree?

Not everyone is familiar with this enlightening craft project. If you’re not, you may ask “What is a gratitude tree?” This is a “tree” parents create with their kids that reminds the whole family about the importance of counting blessings.

At its core, a gratitude tree project consists of writing out the good things in your life, the things that have gone right, then displaying them prominently so you don’t forget them. It’s more fun for kids if you cut paper into the shape of leaves and then let them write out something they are thankful for on each leaf.

Children’s Gratitude Tree

Although we shower our kids with love and gifts these days, it’s also important to teach them our core values, like the need for gratitude. Making a children’s gratitude tree is a fun way of encouraging them to think about what they are thankful for.

You’ll need bright colored craft paper to get started, plus a bare shrub cutting with lots of branches to which paper gratitude leaves might be attached. Let your children pick out the colors of leaves they prefer, then cut them out, one by one, to attach to the tree.

Before the freshly minted leaf can get taped or stapled to a branch, they have to write on it one thing they feel thankful for. For children too young to be able to write themselves, a parent can put the child’s idea onto the paper leaf.

An alternative is to get a copy of a simple sketch of a tree without leaves. Make copies and let your kids decorate them, adding reasons they are grateful to the tree leaves or branches.

Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree

You don’t have to wait for a national holiday to make a gratitude tree with kids. Although, some holidays seem uniquely suited to this type of centerpiece. A Thanksgiving gratitude tree project, for example, helps the entire family remember what the holiday really means.

Fill a vase half full of small rocks or marbles, then poke the bottoms of several bare branches into it. Cut out paper leaves, such as six for each family member. Each person chooses six things they are grateful for, designs a leaf with that thought on it, then hangs it on a branch. 

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.