Reasons abound for having kids write thank-you notes. Teaching children this practice not only instills good manners, but it also forces kids to sit down and think about the gifts they have received. And we all know that grandma and grandpa love to receive these hand-written missives.
The problem is, of course, that making thank-you notes happen can be exhausting — for everyone. So how can parents encourage this practice? How about making it fun instead of a dreaded task! With the technology available today, there is truly a thank-you note for everyone, so make it fun and get it done! Here are three ideas for getting kids engaged in gratitude.
1. Make a thank-you note kit
To jumpstart your kids' thank-you activity, put together a thank-you note kit. Grab a lidded box (a shoebox works well) and put in some blank notecards, envelopes and postage stamps. Then, cruise the aisles of the dollar or craft store for inspiring art supplies to decorate the notes. Here are some examples of what could be included in your thank-you note kit:
- Colored markers
- Stamps and stamp pad or self-inking stamps
- White glue
- Colored pencils
- Metallic sharpies
- Chalk pastels
- Oil pastels
For younger kiddos, stick with washable markers, crayons, self-inking stamps and stickers. For older kids, branch out into Sharpies, colored pencils, glue and glitter.
2. Write a boilerplate messages for young writers
Helping younger elementary-age kids write a note can be monotonous for both of you. Consider writing out a “boilerplate” thank you on a index card and placing the card in a stand-alone lucite frame. Put the frame where it can be seen by the child for reference while writing thank-you cards. The photo above is an example of a boilerplate note.
For pre-writers, write out the basic message yourself and allow the child to decorate the card with art supplies. They can sign their own name if they are able. Elementary-age kids can copy the boilerplate message and personalize the card with artwork. Encourage older children to make their notes more meaningful by including at least one thing they liked about the gift.
3. Try creative takes on thank you-notes
Here are a few inventive ideas for thank-you notes kids will love to make:
Photo notes: Take a picture of your grinning kid holding, wearing or using the gift they received. To create a card, take an 8.5-by-11 inch piece of cardstock and fold it in half horizontally. Next, glue the printed-out picture on the inside of the card and then have your child sign the note.
Another fun way to say thanks with a photo is to make a sign. Have your kiddo hold up a sign such as a chalkboard with a thank-you message written on it. Add the photo to a card.
Video notes: Sometimes relatives and friends want to hear those sweet kid voices. Take a short video of your kid saying thank you with your phone, tablet or computer and send it to the giver.
Printables: Pinterest is full of beautiful printable thank you note designs, most of them free. Search “free printable thank you notes for kids” on Pinterest for plenty of fun options. Check out “mad libs”-style notes, with fill-in-the-blank messages, or “color-your-own” notes.
Electronic cards: Computer-savvy kids might enjoy choosing an e-card. Companies such as Blue Mountain and American Greetings offer a wide array of animated, musical cards for $3.99 per month or $29.99 for two years. Jibjab is a company that makes animated e-cards that can be personalized with your kid’s picture, costs $4.99 per card for free members, and $18 per year for premium membership holders.