Teaching kids to give thanks in all things can be difficult, especially in a "me" society such as we live in today. We used this lesson to teach our kids to be sure to give thanks in the good and the bad using a fun "perspectacles" activity.
This lesson is one that our bishop gave to the youth in our congregation last week. It was based on Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk "Give Thanks in All Things." I used this idea to give my own kids a lesson in giving thanks during our Family Home Evening.
Elder Oaks says "The children of God have always been commanded to give thanks. There are examples throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18). The prophet Alma taught, “When thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God” (Alma 37:37). And in modern revelation the Lord declared that “he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold” (D&C 78:19)."
We then did an attention activity (we needed all these that we could get with the kids). I started with an empty cup, a spoon, and a pitcher of water.
I asked the kids to tell me everything they were thankful for. Every time they mentioned something, we added a spoonful of water into the cup until it was overflowing. We talked about how Heavenly Father blessed us with so much that our lives are overflowing with blessings everyday. We just needed to be able to see them.
Then I showed them this picture, and asked, What then noticed first.
From John Hilton III:
"Chances are you probably noticed the dark flowers first. That’s normal because, as Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “Our minds have a marvelous capacity to notice the unusual.” But there is a problem! Elder Wirthlin pointed out that unfortunately, “The opposite is true as well, the more often we see the things around us—even the beautiful and wonderful things—the more they become invisible to us. “That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world—the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds—even those we love. . . . Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.”
Did you notice the blue sky in the picture? The beautiful clouds? The mountains in the background? The dozens of flowers that weren’t discolored? There are so many beautiful things to be grateful for, and as we practice being grateful, we will notice them more and more."
Then we talked about some of the things in our life that we had to be grateful for. Some of the things that Elder Oaks spoke of were:
- apostles and prophets
- membership in His church
It's hard to give thanks during the hard times. So we asked the kids why we needed to do this more during these times than during the good times. We talked about how the bad times help us remember Heavenly Father and prepare us to become what He wants us to be.
"“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble,” and then promised that “if they humble themselves … and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27)"
"“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7)."
We talked about the movie "Pollyanna" and how she managed to find the good in everything that happened around her. Then we talked about how we can practice that skill.
"When we give thanks in all things, we see hardships and adversities in the context of the purpose of life. We are sent here to be tested. There must be opposition in all things. We are meant to learn and grow through that opposition, through meeting our challenges, and through teaching others to do the same." (Elder Oaks)
At the end of the lesson, we created "perspectacles" to help the kids look at everyday things in a new manner. Perspectacles were paper glasses made from scrapbook paper to remind the kids to be thankful in all things.
After putting on their "perspectacles" they were given a bag with everyday items in it such as a pencil, a bottle of water, a shoe, a light bulb, a glass, and a Book of Mormon. The kids had to come up with as many reasons to be thankful for each item as they could. We gave an award out for the group that could list the most reasons to give thanks.
This was a great part of the activity since the kids were really looking for every little reason to be thankful and came up with ideas that I'm sure they would never have thought of normally. This was the "aha" moment of the evening. (I love when that happens!)