The Giving Tree – An Attitude of Gratitude in Preschool!

Gratitude Activities for Preschool

‘Tis the season of gift giving, thankfulness, extra kindnesses, and appreciation for others.  Helping preschoolers develop an “attitude of gratitude” begins early and at home.  When adults MODEL (MODEL, MODEL) expressions of thankfulness and gratitude, children will naturally absorb and try to imitate all that they see and hear.  Gratitude, when incorporated early, then becomes a natural DAILY expression.


This week’s #playfulpreschool theme offers activities for preschool children centered around the theme of:  GRATITUDE!  We hope you will take a moment to visit all the activities to help your children not only THINK about gratitude, but to find ways to actively participate in expressions of thankfulness.  Gratitude must be an ACTIVE term for young children.  In the words of William Arthur Ward, “Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT page.

The Giving TreeThe Giving Tree:  An “Attitude of Gratitude”

We read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein with our preschoolers during the holidays and again in the spring as we near the end of our school year.  We discuss, model, and ACTIVELY PRACTICE gratitude in our classroom each and every day of the year.  Read the book to your children, but leave the book’s interpretations open for the children to discuss.  You’ll find amazing insights from children as they give their own views on the tree who loved the little boy!

Invite your children to discussions about the book:

  • How did the boy treat the tree?
  • How did the tree show LOVE for the boy?
  • How do you think the tree felt as she gave almost ALL that she had?
  • Do you think the boy was grateful to the tree?
  • How do you think the boy felt at the end of the story when he was a old man?
  • Why do you think the tree GAVE almost all that she had to the boy/man?
  • Do you think the boy/old man changed his heart at the end of the story?

By asking questions, the children will begin to formulate their own ideas about thankfulness, giving, gratitude and how we should treat others.  It’s a powerful book to read and discuss with young kids.  I’ve shared the book with our own kids for over 26 years and am still inspired by the pure love, kindness, and wisdom of preschoolers.

The Giving Tree:  Gratitude Evergreen Tree Craft for Preschool!

The Giving Tree Gratitude Craft for Preschool One of my favorite quotes from a student many years ago:  “I don’t have any money or gifts to give because I’m just a KID; my Mom and Dad do that!” :)  Gratitude, Giving, and Thankfulness require our hearts!  Brainstorm with the children things they already have that they can GIVE to another to express gratitude (friendship, hugs, a smile, cooperation, support, good manners, helpfulness, etc.).  Make a gratitude evergreen tree this holiday season to encourage daily acts of gratitude from the whole family!

Materials needed:  mounting paper (any kind of heavy weight paper), cotton ball, a clothespin, green paint, paint tray or paper plate, yellow sticker stars, small red pompoms, and a marker or the labels linked here – Gratitude is Evergreen Labels

Have the children clip the cotton ball with the clothespin to use as a painting tool.  Set out paint trays and paper.  Invite the children to paint the paper with the cotton ball clip.

The Giving Tree Evergreen Craft for Preschool

Allow the painted trees to dry thoroughly before cutting the paintings into Christmas Tree shapes.  The children can then add the sticker stars and the gratitude labels (linked above).  Set out a jar of red pompoms – each time you see a child showing gratitude, being thankful, or giving to another, have them place a red pompom on the tree (tip – poster putty works great for sticking the pompoms on the tree).  Soon the gratitude tree will be filled with red pompom “ornaments” as a visual for the children of things they can (and DO) give daily!

Gratitude Tree Craft for The Giving Tree Book in Preschool

Activities for Gratitude and Thankfulness for Young Kids


You might also like:   28 Ways to Encourage ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in Gratitude and Thanksgiving!


Life Cycle of a Christmas Tree 001To incorporate science into your activities, see LIFE CYCLE of a CHRISTMAS TREE - just as gratitude goes on and on, so does the circle of life.



For MORE great resources to help your children learn about GRATITUDE, see:

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

Non-Verbal Ways to Show Gratitude from Live Over C’s



Posted in Christmas Theme, Literacy, Parenting and Values, PreK, Preschool and Kindergarten Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The BEST Frozen-Inspired Activities for Parties, Learning, and Play in Preschool! {+ a MEGA CHRISTMAS CASH GIVEAWAY}


Today, we are honored to join bloggers from the Kid Blogger Network  to bring YOU the largest collection of Christmas/Winter suggestions for parties, play, crafts, and learning ever in one event!  Our own FROZEN-INSPIRED collection, is sure to delight your preschooler (or ANY Frozen fan) and provide hours of learning and play this winter!  The other activity round-ups will be linked below to provide great resources this holiday season!  In addition to all the round-ups, we are offering a MEGA CASH GIVEAWAY with FOUR $500 CASH PRIZES!   We hope you’ll find a wealth of inspiration to use at home or in the classroom (and take a chance to win some CASH along the way)!

Kid Blogger Network Christmas GiveawayThe following post consists of 3 main sections:

  • FROZEN-inspired ideas for parties, learning, play, and crafts
  • Links to all participating Christmas/Winter Round-ups from the Kid Blogger Network.

Frozen Sensory Play Ideas for Preschool and KindergartenFROZEN-INSPIRED SENSORY PLAY for PRESCHOOL!

Frozen Glitter Slime – A Pumpkin and a Princess - homemade Glitter Slime with a free printable – makes a great (and frugal) stocking stuffer!

Frozen Sparkle Playdough – Paging Fun Mums - a great sensory playdough – add a seasonal cookie cutter for hours of play!

Frozen Fractals Ice Painting – A Little Pinch of Perfect – FUN ice play and sensory art that is “taste-safe” for little ones!

Frozen Magic Paintings from Sunshine and Hurricanes – a magical Frozen-inspired sensory art and play experience!

Frozen Sensory Play – There’s Just One Mommy - a Frozen-themed sensory play idea with just 2 ingredients – fun for indoors or outside!

Frozen Sensory Ice Bin – J Daniel 4’s Mom - child-directed sensory play with Frozen’s Olaf!

Frozen Ice Paintings from My Sister’s Suitcase  – “special” ingredient ice paintings that are easy to set up for beautiful ice creations (PLUS an entire round-up of Party Ideas, Stocking Stuffers, and More).

Frozen-inspired Learning Activities for PreschoolFROZEN-INSPIRED PLAYFUL LEARNING for PRESCHOOL!

Invitation to Build Elsa’s Ice Castle – Left Brain Craft Brain - creative invitation for building Elsa’s Castle.

Frozen Fairy Tale Science – Fun-a-Day – explore a hands-on science activity that kids will love!

How to Turn a Train Table into a Frozen Playscape from What’s Up Fagans - creating playscapes is not only fun, but involves critical thinking and design skills!  What will your kids create this winter?

FREE Frozen Learning Pack from Totschooling - FREE playful learning ideas for toddlers and preschoolers!

Frozen Small World Play from In the Playroom - creative and pretend play in an egg carton – see how to set up and design your own!

Reindeer Craft to Accompany A New Reindeer Friend – Disney Frozen Books from My Bright Firefly - great winter Frozen book and Reindeer craft for kids to make!

Frozen-Inspired Party Ideas for PreschoolFROZEN-INSPIRED PARTY IDEAS for PRESCHOOL!

Frozen Edible “Build a Snowman” Party Invitations from One Creative Mommy – awesome idea for an edible and creative party invite!

NO-SEW Elsa Cape from Make It & Love It – don’t sew? – it’s not a problem with this easy DIY Elsa cape!

DIY Olaf Costume – East Coast Mommy – boys and girls will love this Olaf costume to make at home!

DIY Anna Dresses – What’s Up Fagans - beautiful and homemade for a party or play!

DIY Elsa Dresses -What’s Up Fagans – lovely Elsa dress you can make at home!

Olaf Juice Boxes – Here Come the Girls - easy drink boxes for a Frozen or Winter Party!

Melted Olaf Yogurt Cups from Made By A Princess – Parties in Style - great snack idea for your Frozen parties!

Frozen’s Olaf Snacks from The Chirping Moms – create and enjoy these kid-created snowman snacks!

Frozen Hot Chocolate and Olaf Cookies from Sunshine and Hurricanes - stay warm this winter with these adorable cookies and cocoa for a Frozen-inspired treat!

Frozen Printable Crown from The Realistic Mama - print and create to make easy crowns for parties or pretend play!

Frozen Holiday Table Décor Kids Can Make from Playtivities - a Christmas and Frozen-Themed tablescape that kids can help create!

Frozen Birthday Snowball Tower from Teachmama – invite the kids to build a snowball treat tower!

Frozen “Sven” Reindeer Pancakes from The Joys of Boy – a cute reindeer pancake to accompany your Frozen theme.

Frozen Cheese Sticks from It’s So Very Cheri – simple, nutritional Frozen snack idea for kids {PLUS MORE birthday party ideas}!

No-Candy Olaf Treat Bags with Printable Topper – Wikki Stix – no candy in this treat bag idea – use over and over for hours of snowman construction and play!

Frozen-Inspired Crafts for PreschoolersFROZEN-INSPIRED CRAFTS for PRESCHOOL!

Frozen Paper Elsa Dress Craft from Playtivities - great fine motor craft for learning and play!

Olaf Cardboard Tube Craft – Crafts by Amanda - recycle cardboard tubes into a fun Olaf creation this winter!  Perfect craft for a winter party or play date!

Frozen Craft – Painted Pumpkins – Love, Play, and Learn - grab a pumpkin and see how to decorate it FROZEN-STYLE!  Great winter sensory activity, too!

Frozen Puppets from Sunshine and Hurricanes - adorable stick puppet crafts for hours of pretend play!

Frozen Playdough Sensory Craft from Clare’s Little Tots - great invitation to kids to create with Frozen-Inspired Playdough!

Frozen Olaf Sock Craft from Playtivities - perfect winter party or play craft to use those socks that are without a match!

Frozen 3-D Olaf Craft from Wikki Stix - create a snowman, take apart, and rebuild!  Hours of fun with durable Wikki Stix!

Frozen Rock Trolls –There’s Just One Mommy - gather some rocks and see how to create the “ROCK TROLLS” – frugal and fun troll creations for play!

Frozen Olaf Cup Craft – J Daniel 4’s Mom - frugal, simple, and adorable cup crafts for kids to create!



Win one of FOUR $500 cash prizes directly in your PayPal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Story Book Advent: North Pole Santa SPY Scope Craft for Kids!

Santa Scope for Story Book Advent


We are honored to join Rainy Day Mum’s Story Book Advent collection for some of the best in kids’ activities to accompany special holiday books!  We hope you’ll find new inspiration for books to read and fun activities to do with your kids this December!

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  Please see the ABOUT page for full disclosures.

Can You See What I See?:  Night Before ChristmasCan You See What I See?:  Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick is a picture puzzle search and solve book that will keep kids entertained and THINKING this December!  In true “I-SPY” spirit, this book captures the attention of young readers and compels them to interact.  The pictures are beautiful and kids (of ALL ages) will love searching for items hidden within.  Some of the items are located easily and some are a bit more challenging!  Our kids LOVED this book so much, we bought more of the Walter Wick titles.  It’s a wonderful book to encourage reluctant readers and a great gift for Christmas!


Walter Wick has some great hidden items within his book, but the greatest FIND of the season would be SANTA himself!  Come create an easy SANTA TELESCOPE disguised as the North Pole to spy on the jolly ‘ole fellow this Christmas Eve!

Materials needed:  one cardboard tube, one clear plastic ornament (per child), red/white wrapping paper or construction paper, tape, red ribbon (one foot per craft), cotton balls, and a hole punch.

Give each child an empty cardboard tube and invite them to wrap the tube in white/red construction paper or wrapping paper.   Take the hanger off of the clear plastic ornament and have the children stuff the ornament with cotton balls.  Before replacing the ornament’s hanger, lay the red ribbon across the ornament and insert the hanger (the hanger will keep the ribbon in place.   Have the children hole punch each side of the cardboard tube near the top.   Turn the cotton filled ornament upside down and thread each end of the red ribbon through the holes (from inside to outside) of the cardboard tube.  Tie the ribbon loosely in a knot or a bow in back of the cardboard tube.

Santa Scope Craft for Preschool and KindergartenTo spy for Santa, simply slide the ornament off the top a little and peer through the open end of the scope!  We hope your kids get a glimpse of Santa this year!

For more Christmas Activities centered around books, see:

The Polar Express – Extension Activities for the Book

The Snowman Storybook by Raymond Briggs

The Mitten by Jan Brett – Activities to Accompany the Book

This post is just part of a collection of great books with activities for Advent from Rainy Day Mum!

Story Book Advent on Rainy Day Mum

Posted in Christmas Theme, PreK, Storytelling with Young Children | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nuts and Seeds Theme: Listening Games with Sensory Sound Shakers for #PlayfulPreschool


Nuts and Seeds Sound Shakers

Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we will continue offering learning activities along with the brilliant #playfulpreschool blogging team.  This week’s activities are centered around a Nuts and Seeds Theme for Preschool.  If you have missed the previous theme-based activities, they are linked for your convenience below.  Also, please take a moment and visit links to additional Nuts and Seeds Theme resources from the Playful Preschool Team for learning inspiration at home or in the classroom!

Discriminating Sounds with Nuts and Seeds in Preschool

The Sense of Hearing (Sound)

The Sense of Hearing  is powerful learning for preschoolers!  In order for the children to explore sounds, they must be able to locate the primary body parts that provide sensory sound information: the EARS!

Introductory (Circle Time) Games:

  • Mirror Play – Invite the children to look for their own ears in a mirror.  Note: hand held mirrors are durable, but supervision is necessary with young children if using real glass. The children can also partner with an adult or siblings/peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries of other body parts that provide sensory information. Children will think it’s silly to look at each other, but they are gaining important information!

Sensory Mirror Discoveries

  • Listening Chant – Invite the children to LISTEN by saying:  “Close your eyes (NO PEEKING!) and open your ears, listen carefully to the sounds you can hear!”  Some of the children will want to make sounds instead of listening.  Remind the children that the goal is to listen for sounds coming from the environment, not the sounds they can make.  It takes a little practice, but the children will love playing this game.  After a few seconds of listening, have the children open their eyes and share what sounds they heard.  The listening game can be played indoors or outside (weather permitting).
  •  Loud/Soft Sounds – Brainstorm with the children places where LOUD voices would be appropriate or where SOFTER voices should be used.   Chart the answers the children give and add to the list as the children become familiar with loud and soft sounds.

Nuts and Seeds Cracking and SortingNuts and Seeds Sensory Sound Shakers

Materials needed:  assorted seeds or nuts, any container (we used glass salt/pepper shakers, but cardboard tubes sealed with waxed paper and a rubber bank will work great, too).

Note:  when making sound shakers with children who still put objects in their mouths, supervise closely.  Seeds and nuts are a choking hazard.  Please also note any children who have allergies, especially peanut/nut allergies.

Prior to the sound activities we incorporated cross-over lessons by inviting the kids to shell or crack some of the varieties of nuts as part of our practical life center.  Set the nuts and seeds out on a table or a tray and demonstrate for the children how to crack the shell of the nut open with a nut cracker. Most preschoolers will need to use both hands with a nut cracker or their hands/fingers to crack or open the shell.   Nut cracking is a wonderful fine motor challenge for preschoolers!  Note – leave some of the nuts/seeds in the shell to create a range of sounds for for the children to hear.

To make the Sound Shakers:  for additional fine motor practice, set out various transfer tools that the children can use to move the seeds/nuts from a tray into the various sound containers (ex:  spoon/melon scoop/tweezers/chop sticks/small tongs).  Each container should only be filled half-way with nuts or seeds.

Nuts and Seeds Sensory Sound Shakers 011

Sensory Sound Shakers with Nuts and Seeds

Sound Games to Try With Preschoolers

  1. Begin with just two of the sound shakers.  Hold a hand towel over the sound shakers (one at a time) with one hand and shake the container with the other hand.  See if the children can determine what KIND of seed/nut is placed inside the shaker using only their sense of hearing.
  2. One at a time, invite the children to shake the containers to determine which container makes the LOUDEST or SOFTEST sound.  With younger children, limit the number of shakers until they gain confidence discriminating between the sounds.
  3. Make matching sound shakers and have the children locate the matching seed/nut containers by listening to the sound the container makes.  Note:  this activity works best using the cardboard tubes to hold the seeds/nuts as the children cannot SEE what is inside the container.  The children then can only rely on listening skills to match the shakers.
  4. Invite the children to order the sound shakers from the softest to loudest (or loudest to softest) sounds (see below).
Nuts and Seed Sound Shakers and Listening Games for Preschool

Ordering the Sound Shakers from LOUDEST to SOFTEST

Come together after exploring the sound shakers for discussions about the sound discoveries.  Some examples of questions to explore with the children:   What seeds/nuts created the louder sounds?  Did the shells on the nuts/seeds make a difference in the sound?  Did the louder sounds bother any of the children? Sometimes loud sounds (sirens, thunder, workplace machinery), when heard repeatedly, can cause stress and anxiety for children, teachers, and parents.   Softer sounds are usually more pleasant to hear for longer periods of time.

Playing with different sounds is not only fun for preschoolers, but it provides great opportunities for important sensory learning!  For more playful learning with all 5 Senses, see the 5 Senses Thematic Unit here on the blog!

We gave our FB group a “sneak peak” of this activity and while they didn’t quite guess how the containers were used, many offered great extension activities for the nuts/seeds.  Come join us and learn from other professionals in ECE on Facebook.

Plan Your Nut and Seeds Learning Week With Activities from the #PlayfulPreschool Team

Colorful Pumpkin Seed Names by Fun-A-Day
Nuts to You!: Squirrel Feeder by Mom Inspired Life
Number Word Punch: Counting Nuts by Tiny Tots Adventures
Turkey Patterns with Pistashio Shells by Still Playing School
Seed and Letter Sensory Bin by Growing Book by Book
Growing Seeds by Learning 2 Walk
Exploring Chia Seeds by Powerful Mothering
Nutty Science–A Lesson in Buoyancy by Capri + 3
3 Fun Activities with Seeds for Preschoolers by Life Over C’s
Easy Sight Word Acorn Game by The Educators’ Spin On It

All Playful Preschool Themes





Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, Fall Theme Activities, PreK, Trees and Leaves Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments