We all want our kids to be thankful – to freely show their gratitude to others. Whether for a gift or a special outing or just for being a good friend, being thankful is not only polite, it’s good for you too. Grateful people tend to be more satisfied with their lives and less likely to complain. I don’t think there is a mama out there not interested in having kids like that! Christmastime offers just the perfect opportunity to encourage thankfulness in your kids by teaching them to write thank you notes!
Personally, the thought of sitting down my squirming bunch of resistant writers is enough to put me off teaching writing of any sort. However, with a little planning and creativity, teaching kids to write thank you notes can be a lot of fun – they won’t even know they’re learning!
Tips for Teaching Kids to Write Thank You Notes
Set Aside a Specific Time to Write
I don’t know about your kids, but my kids aren’t the type (sigh) to sit down and write on their own. Even when it is part of English assignment, they can be reluctant. Find a few hours, sometime before the New Year to sit down together with the purpose of writing out thank you notes. Plan to sit with them and for those of you with reluctant writers, plan to be a human spell checker!
Gather Fun Materials
My kids may not like to write but they love, love, love to create. By providing them with some fun supplies like a variety of blank note cards, return address labels, interesting pens or colored pencils, stamps and stickers, they will be more likely to enjoy letter writing. Pssst…these items make great stocking stuffers too!
A Note About Honesty
What if the Land’s End wool sweater wasn’t a big hit with your trendy teen? How can they be authentically thankful? Try looking for the positive. Instead of saying something that is untrue, “Thanks for the sweater. I love it!” Try thinking of something positive about the gift, like this: “Thank you for the sweater. I love the color!”
For the Pre-Writers
For kids who are too young to write, allow them to dictate their thanks for you to write for them. Encourage them to be as prolific as they like. Have them decorate the card and do their best to sign their names.
For the Early Writers
For kids who are able to write some but may have difficulty writing a complete note, search online for one of the many, fun fill-in-the-blank types of thank you notes. They are something like a writing prompt that gets them going, teaching them the basics of letter writing and allowing them to enjoy the process.
For the Confident Writers
As your kids become more capable writers, their thank you notes can become more of a letter. Older kids can write what they like about the gift or how they plan to use any monetary gifts. They can also write briefly about what they have been doing lately and ask after the health and welfare of the person to whom they are writing.
A Few Creative Ideas for Homemade Thank You Cards
While I was writing this post, I took some time to search around Pinterest for some creative thank you note ideas. Here are a few that even this craft-challenged mama can handle:
- Have kids make their own cards by drawing a picture.
- Take a photo of your child with their gift to attach to or include with their thank you note.
- Use colored ink pads to make a rainbow of finger prints across the front of the card. Write ‘Thank You’ in each of the fingerprints.
- Trace your kids’ hands and cut them out as a thank you round of applause.
- Write ‘Thank You’ on a chalk board or with magnetic letters on a baking sheet and take a photo of your kids holding it to attach to or include in your thank you notes.
- Create free e-cards from one of the many free online card sources on the web.
- Create your own card on an online card site.
I hope you are encouraged to cultivate a little bit of thankfulness in your kids this season by helping them to create and write thank you notes for friends and family. Not only will the recipients be blessed, your kids will have the pleasure of feeling more gratitude for their blessings, family bonds will be strengthened and good manners are being learned.
How have you encouraged your kids to write ‘thank you’ notes?