Object Lesson: A Garden of Gratitude to Cultivate Thanks (Colossians 4:2)

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It is no secret that kids tend to have a short-sighted and egotistical view of things, easily impatient and frustrated when results do not immediately appear. We encourage verbal gratitude at Thanksgiving time and for gifts, but do not always extend that attitude to daily life. Young and older children (and even adults!) can often use an extra little reminder to be thankful and to appreciate all that God has bestowed. Here is a simple and adaptable decoration to construct that can serve as a visual cue to live with contentment and thanksgiving.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.      -Colossians 4:2
Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Construct a “gratitude garden” to display as a reminder of daily thankfulness. Begin with a list of categories and possible answers, and create a craft with your students to pull out regularly. Materials and method may vary according to age and availability, but here are possibilities:

  • For younger students: Use egg cartons, small cups, or Tupperware containers filled with beads or rice. Help students stick in popsicle sticks with cut paper “flowers” or tissue paper flowers on top. On the flowers, write categories such as “food,” “family member,” “something special that happened today,” “friend,” etc.
  • For (somewhat) older children: Decorate small flower pots and add sticks with paper flowers or tissue flowers. Consider using real soil or pebbles as filler. Come up with examples and/or more advanced categories like “when I feel anxious, I ask God for…”
  • For any age: instead of flowers, make a “garden” in a shoe box or multi-compartmented container and use different artificial foods and stick-up labels to describe what thankful items are being mentioned.

Attach a Bible verse and some directions for using the gratitude garden: Display it somewhere visible at home, and take out the flowers to admire and contemplate. Each flower has an open-ended category and as you fill in the blanks of blessings, consider how thankful you are that God is so good and has richly bestowed wonderful things in your life! J

 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. -Psalm 9:1
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.          -Philippians 4:6

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