There are still a few days before Thanksgiving. If you are looking for something meaningful for your kids to do this year, gratitude boxes are a wonderful addition to any Thanksgiving feast. Yesterday I shared about our Reggio Inspired Thanksgiving Feast at the preschool I work at as atelierista. These gratitude boxes were a gift from all the students to their families and sat on each plate at the table. I experienced so much joy and gratitude myself while putting these together with the kids. Each one felt like such a special reflection of the creators. Gratitude boxes are a perfect handmade gift for any age to make. These were done by ages 2 and up. Read on to see how we made them.
*Note – You don’t have to use all of these things. Don’t let lack of certain supplies stop you. Paper, paint or anything you can draw with and a box will get you by just fine. You can recycle any small box from the cabinet.
Start by cutting a few pieces of watercolor paper a little smaller than the box you plan to use. Our boxes were 3.5×3.5 so I cut five squares per child to a little over 3×3. I taped the five pieces to a tray with painters tape. Painters tape is the magic behind this project. The clean border makes every painting look like a masterpiece. This is a great little artists trick I use a lot with my students and my own children. You can see through the painters tape as you put it on the paper too, which makes it easier to get a nice even line across the paper. Each child got their own tray and was encouraged to use the fall colors we had been talking about so much in class. You could also mix your own paints which kids love. Read how to do that here.
After each child painted their squares to their liking, they had the option of using salt to add texture to their paintings. This is a wonderful technique often used with watercolor paints, like you see here. It doesn’t work quite the same with tempera paints, but hey, we liked it just the same. It gave the paintings an interesting feel and added interest for the kids. Once the paintings were dry, I removed them gently from the tray.
Then the kids got to peel the tape off of their paintings. They loved this part! Very few ripped and if they did, we caught it quickly and I was able to add a little glue to fix it. The tape should peel off the paper easily if you use watercolor paper.
We have been spending a lot of time talking about nature and painting bits and pieces we find on nature walks. The kids also love adding glitter to nature so we thought these beautiful sticks would be a nice addition to our gratitude boxes. We broke off little pieces of glittery painted sticks and used them to tie our paintings together. Each package fit perfectly in one side of the box and on the back of the box the teachers wrote quotes of gratitude from each student. You can also write quotes on the back of each painting.
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can bring about a lot of confusion and questions and controversy, especially for the teachers who are tasked with teaching about it every year. Our goal was to focus on the most important theme of the holiday, gratitude. Looking at these boxes reminds me of all the wonderful blessings I have in my life and I’m grateful to take a moment now to say thank you. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday. Meri