Activity time: 10 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Think of something specific you can thank each child for, so you can model expressing gratitude in this way and make sure each child receives appreciation at least once.
Description of Activity
Gather in a seated circle. Explain that the children will say "thank you" to one another in a special way, to practice expressing gratitude. Give these guidelines:
- Be as specific as possible about what the person did that you are grateful for. Say exactly what you appreciated. For example, instead of saying, "Thank you for helping me," you can give more information. You might say "Thank you for noticing I needed help when I was making my paper airplane and interrupting your own work to show me how to make the folds the right way." Or, instead of "You are a great friend," say, "I really appreciate that you are generous with me in sharing your toys and snacks."
- Tell what the person's actions did for you. For example: "I was feeling frustrated when I couldn't get the fold to work, and when you showed me how to do it, I felt really proud when I got it right!" Or, "When I was sick and stayed home from school, I was worried about my homework and when you brought it to it to my house that night, I was very happy and relieved and glad I could get it done for the next day!"
When the participants understand the guidelines, tell them they will now have a chance to try this kind of "thank you" with one another. Say, in your own words:
You can thank someone for something they did a long time ago, like sharing a toy with you or making you feel welcome when you first came to church. You can also thank someone for something they did today that you appreciate. We won't go in any particular order. If you have something to say, raise your hand and I will call on you for a turn. You can go more than once if you have more than one person you would like to thank.
Begin by offering a thank you to someone in the group (perhaps someone you think might be overlooked by their peers), as a way of modeling the process.
Debrief with these questions:
- How did it feel to say, "thank you?"
- How did it feel to have someone express gratitude to you?
- Was this activity easy or hard?
- Was this different from ways you usually say thank you? How?
- Why is it important that we express our gratitude?
- Why is it important we say why we are grateful, when we say thank you?
Including All Participants
Make sure every participant is thanked for something. If the group is thanking the same person repeatedly, ask them to think of other people. Periodically during the sharing time, you may need to jump in and express gratitude to a participant who has not yet been thanked.