Gratitude Garland; Teaching Children About Expressing Gratitude


Being grateful is a big part of perspective taking. Gratitude Garlands are a wonderful way to help children think about what they have that others might not.

Gratitude Garland; Teaching Children to Feel and Express Gratitude

Gratitude Garland; Teaching Children About Expressing Gratitude

When interacting and working with all children perspective taking and appreciation are important concepts to encourage. When working and playing with children who have social-cognitive deficits this is a critical skill to teach. Children with autism spectrum disorder do not intend to ignore other people’s feelings they just don’t realize that they are supposed to take that into consideration. This is part of “Theory of Mind” where people naturally intuit that they are part of a group and that the group matters. If this does not come naturally, it needs to be taught. Learning to express gratitude encourages thoughtfulness.

All of us benefit when we reflect on what we feel grateful for. It takes the focus off what may not be going well and redirects our thoughts to more positive thoughts.

Gratitude Acorn

Target Skills for Expressing Gratitude:

Materials for your Gratitude Garland:

  • Pieces of colored paper cut into squares
  • Hole punch
  • Pens, crayons or markers
  • String or Ribbon

Instructions for your Gratitude Garland:

  • Discuss what gratitude is and whom you are grateful for and why.
  • Cut small squares out of colored paper. Have the children decide what color goes with what feeling of gratitude. For example, if you are grateful for ice cream that may be pink or if you are grateful for a friend’s laughter that may be purple, etc.
  • Punch a hole in each square of paper.
  • Write down something that they are grateful for on each square. Encourage the child to think about people, what they like about them and how they feel about others.
  • String the squares on the ribbon or string.
  • Have the children look at each other’s gratitude garlands and talk about what they wrote.
  • Have the children make a gratitude garland for someone else, making the squares about what makes them grateful that that person is their friend.

What are you grateful for?


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