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Make a Family "Thankful Box"

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9 Family-Friendly Activities

As November begins and the holiday season kicks off in earnest, it can be easy for kids and families to get stuck in the “I wants,” without having much chance to pause and appreciate the many, many other kinds of bounty—many of them cost-free and priceless--that a family can celebrate with gratitude and warmth. That’s why we love this project, on which your third grader can take a lead. And while he's at it, your child will be getting valuable practice in descriptive writing, which also happens to be a key third grade skill

What You Need:

  • Empty cardboard box (we especially like round oatmeal boxes, but a shoebox can work well, too!), or large coffee can.
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Glitter Glue, Markers
  • At least 15 pieces of typing paper, cut in half to make sheets 5-1/2” x 8-1/4”
  • Optional: clear contact paper

What You Do:

  1. Start by choosing construction paper in a warm fall color, and use it to cover the outside of the box or can.
  2. Take some inspiration from the fall season, and cut 8-10 leaves from construction paper in contrasting fall colors. Mark their veins with stripes of glitter glue. When they’re dry, arrange them artistically around the side of your box or can.
  3. If you like, go ahead and cover the whole surface with clear contact paper.
  4. Now, over the weeks before Thanksgiving, have your third grader take the lead in mobilizing the whole family to contribute to the “thankful box.”  Each person should add at least three papers that complete the sentence “I am grateful for___________________ because_______________________________________.” Encourage the family to add items at a regular time, such as right before dinner on certain nights, and don’t forget that with a little imagination (and help from your third grader), pets can “write,” too!
  5. Keep collecting thank you pages until Thanksgiving Day, and then take out the box together. Read it together—and don’t be surprised if you end up with some very special family smiles, and even a few tears of gratitude, too. Thanks really do stand at the heart of the season, after all.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.

Updated on Apr 22, 2011
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See more activities in: Third Grade, The Holiday Season
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