Gratitude for our Earth

Early Literacy
By Sophia Espinoza, Senior Manager of Curriculum and Learning Design

Earth Day is an opportunity to not only teach children about environmental stewardship, but also a time to encourage gratitude for all that the Earth provides us. Though we are spending most of this year’s Earth Day indoors, we can still do a lot to celebrate Earth Day and say thank you to our planet, as we give our planet the breathing break it needs. 

Cultivating gratitude has many benefits. Grateful people often have stronger relationships, more empathy, and better self-esteem. It even helps improve mental health. But teaching children to be more grateful can be challenging for many reasons. It takes time to build the habits and mentality necessary for authentic gratitude. 

Earth Day and gratitude go hand in hand because recognizing our love for the Earth motivates us to treat it well. Here are practices that will help cultivate gratitude in children, and some tips for how you can use them this Earth Day:

1. Acknowledge where you are starting and incorporate gratitude into daily life

Some kids are already in the habit of saying “thank you” on a daily basis. Some kids only say it to grandma and grandpa when receiving gifts during the holidays. It’s ok if you’re starting at the latter place, just be conscious and set goals for what you’d like to see improve. If you’d like a child to be better about saying thank you regularly, create a gratitude ritual. For example, after dinner, have everyone at the table go around and share one “thank you” to someone else.

This week, incorporate gratitude into different parts of the day. Think about how the Earth impacts your life and discuss it with your children. This brings awareness to how Earth supports us, which is an important first step to feeling genuine gratitude.

2. Model gratitude 

Children are always picking up on our actions and words. You can't and shouldn’t try to be a perfect role model, but picking a few times where you will consistently model gratitude will make them see it’s importance. 

You can model gratitude with both your actions and words. Here is the Canticos Learning Hub, where this week we will be posting several activities that you can use to teach children how to show gratitude for the Earth. 

3. Go on a Gratitude Walk

Gratitude walks give us a chance to give specific “thank yous” to the Earth, whether we’re hiking in the woods or walking down the street. To get children started, you can share the first few words. “Look at that flower! Thank you Earth for making things that are beautiful. Look at that tree! Thank you Earth for making plants that give us shade and oxygen.”

Extend your gratitude practices beyond this week! You’ll see that it’s easy to practice gratitude all year around, and the more your whole family does it the easier expressing it will become. Make sure to celebrate your gratitude and amor for Earth with our song “Amor”. Watch it here.

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