There is no doubt that the season of giving thanks is upon us. I’m a firm believer that we should show our gratitude every day, but it’s also wonderful to take a special time and give specific thanks for the things that we have been blessed with. Our #PlayfulPreschool theme for today is gratitude and we are very excited to share some great ways that your preschooler can show thanks. Because my preschooler does not speak enough to say “thank you”, today I’m sharing some non-verbal ways to show gratitude for those who may be in our shoes so-to-speak.
When I talk about preschoolers, I am referencing the age group of 3-5 years old. Within that age group there are kids of varying abilities. Some may be gifted and pick up on every new thing that they are exposed to. Others may be average and are enjoying learning their numbers and letters. But there are others who may have delays, like my youngest daughter, that prevent them from being at the same intellectual skill level as their peers.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t attempt to teach them new skills everyday, it just means that we are approaching it in a different way.
Shiloh has an intellectual delay that affects every part of her actions, understanding and skills. Currently she has the skills of a 20-24 month old child despite being 44 months old. So when I am working with Shiloh, I have to think of things differently than I had to with my three older children.
So, as I thought about ways that I could teach gratitude, I was slightly stumped. After a little brainstorming with the #PlayfulPreschool team, I realized that Shiloh already demonstrates her thankfulness in many ways. For her having a “talk” about thankfulness, reading a story or doing a craft about thanks wasn’t going to really have an affect on her.
However, every day of her life we work on showing gratitude for even the tiniest of things.
Here are some non-verbal ways to show gratitude.
1. A smile. The simplest of gestures is actually the easiest way to say “thank you”. By smiling when someone has done something nice, your child is conveying how much they appreciate that gesture.
2. A hug. Shiloh does not use these sparingly. She gives hugs for ev.er.y.thing. If you walk out of a room and come back 2 minutes later, she will greet you with a huge hug and a shout of joy.
3. Trying to say names. Shiloh learns the names of people who interact with her on a one-on-one basis. It’s almost as if she is showing her love for people by learning how to say their names. Today, for the first time in her life, she said her oldest sister’s full name. That is a moment, my oldest daughter will treasure forever. That little utterance of “Emma” was the sweetest sound of our day.
4. Shouting and stomping. While this sounds like it would be an expression of anger, Shiloh shows how excited she is to receive something by letting off a few minutes of excited shouts and stomping while she “dances” in joy.
5. By participating in the “Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re welcome” ritual. Shiloh taught herself to say “Please”, but if you tell her to say “Thank you” instead she will say “welwom”. She understands the pattern and she’s using it the best she can. If you listen very closely after giving her something (like a snack or a sticker) you can hear her say “welwom” without any prompting.
6. By signing. Shiloh is not formally learning sign language because her doctors do not feel that she will always need a replacement for speech. They have, however, suggested using as many gestures as we can as we speak to her and teaching modified signs for her most common words. One of the easiest signs is “Thank You”. Flattening the hand with all the fingers together, touching the tips of the fingers to the chin and pulling away from the chin is how you say “thank you” in sign language. It is one of the signs that Shiloh is actively working on. When we are teaching her a sign, we repeat it as often as we can and often in clusters. So we will repeat the same sign over and over as long as Shiloh is interested in the exchange. It often involves a lot of giggles.
Today, as were thinking so much about gratitude, I made a Thankfulness tray for Shiloh. I included many pictures of the people in her life, so that we could practice learning their names and give a few picture hugs. She loves pictures and can flip through the photo album on my photo for quite some time just adoring the photos of the people she loves. She looks at them each as if they are brand new!
To make the thankfulness tray, I simply printed off some casual photos of our family. I laminated them because Shiloh is a little rough with paper and I wanted the pictures to last more than 5 seconds. Then, I cut them out and laid them in a tray for her to look through.
I hope that this will help you to understand some of those kids who haven’t quite got the ‘talking thing’ down yet and give you some ideas of how to help them show their gratitude even when they can’t say it.
Be sure to check out the other #PlayfulPreschool posts for more great ideas on teaching gratitude to preschoolers!
The Giving Tree- An Attitude of Gratitude in Preschool from The Preschool Toolbox
Literacy Activities: Giving and Being Thankful Ideas from Growing Book by Book
Teaching Kids Thank You in Different Languages from Still Playing School
Thankful Rocks: A Visual Reminder to Be Thankful from Mom Inspired Life
Gratitude Sensory Bin from Learning 2 Walk
Gratitude- Put Your Best Foot Forward Footprint Activity from Capri +3
Gratitude Sensory Jar from Tiny Tots Adventures