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Cultivate Gratitude with a Thankful Pumpkin Family Tradition

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Character

One of our favorite ways to teach kids about gratitude is making a thankful pumpkin (sometimes called a gratitude pumpkin or a give thanks pumpkin). In a few minutes a day, you and your family can turn an iconic symbol of fall into a heartwarming reminder of the things you’re grateful for.

And that’s great, because cultivating gratitude is an important part of building Character, one of the 5 C’s at the heart of the Begin Approach to helping kids thrive in school and life. Kids with strong Character skills have improved mental health and well-being, plus better outcomes in school, so it matters a lot!

How to Make a Thankful Pumpkin

What You Need

  • Permanent marker
  • Pumpkin (large for family or small for individuals)

What to Do

  1. Clear a special space where the thankful pumpkin will live during the holiday season. (They make great table centerpieces!)
  2. Every day, gather around the pumpkin as a family and have each person add one thing they’re grateful for to it. It can be a person, a pet, a place, a thing, even a concept!
  3. Ask everyone to share how the thing they’re grateful for makes them feel. (“I’m grateful for sunshine, because it makes me feel happy!”)

Older kids can write on the pumpkin themselves, while younger kids can draw what they’re thankful for or ask an adult to help them. If your kids are struggling to think of things, try having an adult go first. Kids will often come up with ideas based on what you lead with.

In addition to modeling gratitude for kids, this project gets them naming and identifying feelings—another important Character skill in early learning.

Project Tips

If you want to mix this project up a bit, you can try:

  • Giving each person in the family their own small thankful pumpkin
  • Doing the thankful pumpkin as part of your dinner or bedtime routine
  • Making miniature thankful pumpkins to give to family and friends (“Let’s make a pumpkin for Grammy and write everything we’re grateful to her for on it.”)
  • Try setting a 15-minute timer and seeing how much of the pumpkin you can fill as a family in one session. (This one’s great if you’ve missed a week or two, or if you want to make one right before Thanksgiving!)

Building Character with Begin

At Begin, we understand how strong Character skills help give kids their best start to achieving their fullest potential. Our Learn with Sesame Street program guides kids through building empathy, self-regulation, and more. They can play on their own in a fun app filled with research-backed games, stories, and songs, or watch original classes with Elmo and friends.

There are many ways to show gratitude, and we hope this one is fun for your family. We’re grateful to Amy Latta Creations for introducing us to the concept years ago!


Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos
Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos

Chief Learning Officer at Begin

Jody has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science and more than a decade of experience in the children’s media and early learning space.