I am such a huge fan of Todd Parr’s books and his simple, boldly colored illustrations have always reminded me of children’s artwork, so when I recently came upon The Thankful Book at our local library, I just knew it would be a fabulous prompt for talking about gratitude and inspiring kids to get creative.
Studies have found that practicing gratitude has a host of positive benefits, including physical, psychological and social rewards. Being grateful makes us feel good. It makes us believe that there is good in the world and helps us to appreciate what is good in ourselves and in others. In our stressful, busy, modern world, I think teaching our children to reflect on all that they are grateful for is essential to developing their overall health and sense of wellbeing.
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The Thankful Book Art Activity
You will need:
- White paper
- Yellow paper
- Glue stick
- Black permanent marker (we used a Sharpie)
- Watercolor paints
- Fine paintbrush
The set up for this activity was so easy. I created a drawing prompt by sticking a yellow circle cut from construction paper in the middle of a piece of white paper, then traced around it with black marker pen.
We started out by reading Todd Parr’s The Thankful Book together. For those unfamiliar with the book, in it Parr shares simple, childlike reasons to be thankful for everyday things like music, friends, pets, and even underwear. It is positive and joy-filled, ending with a reminder to take the time to reflect on that which is precious to us.
We each then named the things that we were most grateful for. Once we had made quite the list, I invited my two daughters, aged five and nine, to draw one of their choices on the paper I had prepared.
They used black permanent markers, reminiscent of Todd Parr’s illustrations. While the yellow circle could be used as any part of their drawing, both of my girls used it as the basis for a head or face. This is unsurprising given the number of yellow (and other rainbow colored) faces featured throughout Parr’s books and noted by my five-year-old when we read together.
My nine-year-old spontaneously added text in the style of the book to label her drawing, which Miss 5 then proceeded to imitate (with a little help on the spelling).
Referring to the brightly colored book illustrations, I invite my girls to add color to their illustrations with watercolor paints.
The finished artwork makes me smile. I can imagine a bulletin board full of this style of colorful (and thankful) illustrations hanging in a classroom would look simply captivating.
Do you have a favorite Todd Parr book?
Christie Burnett is the teacher, author, and blogger behind the playful online space known as Childhood 101. Christie’s passion for play and creativity led her to start her award-winning blog shortly after the birth of her first daughter. Nowadays she can typically be found juggling the demands of family life with time tapping away at her keyboard, at least when she hasn’t just dropped it all to join her daughters in whatever their latest game or project might be! Connect with Christie on her blog or via Facebook.