Many ways to say thanks

These activities teach children the importance of saying thanks to God and others.

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By Mary Kathleen Glavich, SND

Thankfulness is a human trait. The moon and stars, roses, and robins cannot thank their creator or anyone else. Only we, who are conscious of the good done for us, have the power to acknowledge our indebtedness to others. The word "thank" is derived from the word "think." To thank kindly is to think kind thoughts about someone.

We like to be thanked. A thank you means we are recognized and appreciated. It makes us feel warm inside and motivates us to continue to assist others, to give gifts, and to be what we are.

Often, though, we neglect to communicate gratitude. How many times have we intended to write a thank-you note, but never got around to it? It's not just polite to say thank you. It's Christian. Expressing thanks requires thoughtfulness, humility, time, and effort.

Thankfulness is a manifestation of love, the hallmark of a follower of Jesus. It should be part of every lesson you teach. As a catechist, you indirectly instill thankfulness especially when you model being a grateful person.

Here are some ways you can teach children to thank God and others.

Ways to thank God

  • Print a short prayer of thanksgiving on a card. Place it somewhere in your bedroom so you see it every evening before you fall asleep. Use it as a reminder to thank God for the good gifts you have received each day.
  • Using magazine pictures, photographs, and objects, make a three-dimensional collage of things for which you are grateful. Display it in somewhere at in your teaching space.
  • Pray one of these psalms of thanksgiving: Psalm 9-10: 1,2; Psalm 52:8, 9; Psalm 63; Psalm 75; Psalm 100; Psalm 105:1-5; Psalm 106:1-5; Psalm 107; Psalm 111; Psalm 118; Psalm 136; Psalm 138.
  • To give thanks to God, the Hebrews sacrificed a perfect ox, sheep, or goat from their flock or herd. What sacrifice can you make, or what gifts can you give God as a thanksgiving offering: a snack? a concert ticket? a game? an hour of your time helping someone? Write your gift on a slip of paper and put it in a place to remind you to do it.
  • For each letter of the alphabet, list gifts from God that begin with that letter. Reflect on these gifts, which are examples of the God’s love. Say a special prayer of thanksgiving for them.

Ways to thank others

  • Make a long thank-you scroll for your father or mother or both. Draw cartoons or paste magazine pictures on it, depicting what they have done for you. Write on it some expression of your thanks and love. Present the scrolls on an appropriate special occasion.
  • Write an unexpected thank-you letter to someone who deserves your thanks, but probably doesn't expect it. For example: your teacher, the librarian, the school custodian, your pastor, your brother or sister, the mailperson.
  • Some people never know how good they are because no one ever tells them. Tell your friends what you like about them and how much you appreciate them.
  • Make a list of people to whom you owe thanks. Write a prayer asking God to bless them for their kindness to you. Pray this prayer daily, mentioning the people on your list by name.
  • Design a set of thank-you cards. Send them to people who deserve your thanks.
  • Say thank you to members of your family when they do small favors for you, like turning on the TV, or passing you the dessert. If you show appreciation for little things, chances are you'll remember to show it for greater things.
  • Make some posters thanking people who contribute to the smooth-running of your Faith Formation program, school, or parish. Display the posters where others can see them.
  • Smile at people today. A grateful person is a happy person.

A grateful person is someone who is:

  • sensitive to the goodness of God in daily events, such as when they behold a fiery sunset, when they win a prize, or when their headache vanishes.
  • aware of the good in other people and acknowledges someone's admirable qualities like patience, understanding, and gentleness.
  • able to convey their gratitude to God and to other people in gifted ways.


Mary Kathleen Glavich, SND

is a pastoral associate at St. Dominic Parish in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Her latest books are Teaching Catechists to Pray and The Catholic Way to Pray (Twenty-Third Publications). Her website is

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