Evoke an attitude of gratitude

An overstuffed refrigerator, a house full of people, and stir-crazy kids—yep, it’s the holidays! It’s easy for a child’s gratitude to get lost somewhere between the three kinds of pie on the table and the eight sleeping bags filled with visiting cousins. Check out these ideas for teaching kids the importance of charity and thankfulness.

Watch cute videos
Give the family warm fuzzies by watching this music video of cuddly giant panda pals. (Warning: You will never get the song out of your head!) Afterward encourage your children to talk about why they’re grateful for their own friends—and how they show them that they care. Then flip that idea on its head and be thankful that you’re not part of a family of dung beetles, mola fish, or other wacky creatures.

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Some dung beetles lay their eggs in balls of dung so that when the eggs hatch, the larvae use the ball as—gross!—their source of food.

Take photos
Help your child express appreciation through photography. Get them started with these Nat Geo photo tips, then challenge them to take pictures that show what makes them thankful—cute pets, their favorite food, whatever! Need inspiration? Crank up their happiness level with “smiling” animals like snowy owls, chimps, sea otters, and more!

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Cook together
Cooking as a family can teach kids to appreciate spending time with loved ones—as well as the food they’re about to eat. Get them started by making this poached pear dessert together and talking about what foods or family dining traditions they’re grateful for. While you’re waiting for the pears to cook, go through the cupboards to see what you could donate to charity this holiday season. Or use the time to keep their brains active over the break by reading about Thanksgiving history and quizzing each other on the holiday.