I would say Thanksgiving ranks among the top of my favorite holidays. Warm apple cider, crisp leaves on the ground and sweatshirt weather are some of my favorite things. As my kids are getting older I’ve wanted to find an easy Thanksgiving craft for our whole family. I really want to help us focus our hearts on what we are thankful for. It’s easy to get caught up in the business of celebrations, but this Thanksgiving Thankful Tree craft has helped my family slow down and discuss what we are thankful for, really focusing on on the meaning of Thanksgiving. I’m so excited to share it with you as it has become one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions!
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What is a Thankful Tree?
At the beginning of November our family starts with a pile of blank paper leaves in a basket on our table. Every night at dinner time we take a minute and go around the table and share one (or a few!) things we are thankful for. We all write our answer on the leaves and tape it up to our glass sliding door for us to see for the rest of the month. By the end of November our doors are full of things we are thankful for. I can’t tell you how many great conversations these leaves have led to. I love to hear all of the little things my boys think of every night. It is honestly the perfect Thanksgiving activity for all ages and such a great reminder of why we celebrate Thanksgiving.
Creating a Thankful Tree
A little later in the post I will walk you through lots of different ideas on how to implement this in your home or classroom. But before you start you need a few simple things:
- A pile of blank leaves, see my free template below that you can print off. I recommend having at least 1-2 per person per day
- A sharpie or marker
- Tape or another wall-safe adhesive
That’s it- its such a simple, budget friendly craft to do this Thanksgiving season!
Ways To Create A Thankful Tree At Home
There are lots of ways to use this at home- here are some ideas for your family to choose from:
- My family likes to make this a full month activity. On November 1st we start with blank leaves in a bowl on our table. Every night at dinner each person will take a leaf or two and write things they are thankful for. We then tape them to our sliding glass door and by the end of the month it is filled with leaves
- You could have each person have their own individual thankful trees, complete with a tree trunk and branches, to put their leaves on. Or you could have a whole family tree (with a trunk you create) that you place the leaves on.
- If you aren’t sure where you would put the leaves consider a thankful door. Instead of putting the leaves on a wall you could tape the leaves on your child’s bedroom door (a great activity to do during their bedtime routine)!
- When my parents host Thanksgiving my mom scatters blank leaves & pens around her table. Throughout the weekend our entire family writes what we are thankful for on them. It’s so fun to sit at meals during the weekend and read what other people have written! She has saved some of these leaves over the years and she puts them out each Thanksgiving. It’s so fun to reminisce about some of the past memories on the leaves that are put out years later.
- If you are tight on time and didn’t get leaves printed off for your big celebration, that’s okay. We have a fun family tradition at my in-laws during Thanksgiving dinner every year that would be easy to do last minute. My mother-in-law sets out 3 pieces of candy corn in front of every plate at the table. Before dinner is served each person goes around and shares 3 things they are thankful for, each thing earns them one candy corn to enjoy. 🙂
Ways To Use A Thankful Tree In The Classroom
I love when my kids come home with Thanksgiving crafts. As much as I love the turkey hats and drawings, my favorite crafts are the ones that have them focused on gratitude. If you have early elementary students or preschool students the words on the leaves can be replaced with drawings. This activity can honestly be adapted to be used with kids of all ages.
Here are some ideas to implement this craft in the classroom:
- You could keep the leaves in the template and have the kids cut out the leaves themselves. If you do the leaves on white paper the kids could color them to decorate them as well! This is a great way to work on fine motor skills and end up with very colorful, unique leaves!
- Create a large tree trunk in your classroom and make a classroom thankful tree. Each child could put up a leaf a day for the month of November and by the end of the month you would have a beautiful tree, an awesome visual way to remind kids to be grateful!
- You could make the outside of your classroom door into a thankful door. The leaves can be posted up there as your students fill them out. You could even leave a few blank leaves on the outside of your room for other kids to add to your door throughout the month.
- If you have a Thanksgiving celebration, have the students fill out some blank leaves at a thankful tree craft station. The next day when they come to school surprise them with a big tree posted on bulletin board with all of the leaves they filled out.
Printable Thankful Tree
Here are the printable templates you will need to print off the leaves for your tree. This is in a PDF format and you can print at home or at your local print shop. There should be 6 printable leaves per paper, so you may need multiple sheets depending on how you are going to create your thankful tree. You can print on plain white paper (my kids love decorating the leaves) or colorful papers that are a variety of fall colors. This link will bring you to the PDF template for the blank white leaves and this link will take you to the PDF with the pre-colored leaves, feel free to mix and match!
Other Tips & Tricks
You can take the PDF and scale it to whatever size you would like. If you are doing a large tree you may want bigger leaves. If you are looking for a small tree then you can scale them smaller.
I would recommend printing these on card stock. They are just a little more durable on the heavier paper. However, you can absolutely do this on construction paper or printer paper as well.
A great idea for families & teachers alike is to laminate the leaves. This allows you to create your tree, but then at the end of the month you can wipe them off and reuse them for next year!
Don’t forget to take a picture of your completed tree. This makes a great photo for keepsake albums. I love that it captures my kid’s sweet handwriting as well. I have kept some of our old thankful leaves because I just want to hold onto the sweet things they came up with in their backwards 5 year old handwriting. Someday my boys will thank me for keeping them, I’m sure of it 😉
Other Fun Activities For Thanksgiving
I’m a sucker for holiday themed games and activities. If you are looking for some other fun ideas for your classroom or family celebration I encourage you to check out my other Thanksgiving posts. This link will take you to a fun, kid friendly, Thanksgiving themed word search (with a free printable). I also have a post outlining Thanksgiving Scattergories which is such a great game for a large group of people of all ages. I really hope you enjoy these Thanksgiving printables!
Don’t forget to pin this so you have it for years to come!