A thoughtful twist on the classic gratitude tree from DoingGoodTogether.org

Create a Wishing Tree

Grow kindness and cultivate gratitude day by day.

As a family, dedicate a few minutes each day – for a week or a month or a season – to imagine your wishes for the world and appreciate all the good in your life. While this project may seem simple, the conversations it will launch have the potential to be powerful and memorable.

What you’ll need

  • Paper grocery bag

  • Scissors

  • Masking tape

  • Star, apple, or flower shaped Post it notes (like these)

  • Pens or pencils

Instructions

First, turn your brown grocery bag into the base of your wishing tree.

A wishing tree!
  • Slit the sides of the bag, creating a long rectangle.

  • Pencil the outline of a tree, with branches, on the inside of the bag.

  • Crinkle the bag, then smooth it back out, to add a bark-like texture.

  • Cut out your tree shape.

  • Tape your tree to the closet door or the wall. Then, prepare to add to its branches each day. (Be sure to use painter's tape to protect your wall from damage.)

Then, make time each day to answer these questions.

  • If you could make one wish for anyone else in the world, what would it be?

  • What are you grateful for today? (Encourage a new answer each day.)

  • Use the reflection questions below to think more deeply about this project.

Reflections

  • Is it difficult to make wishes that benefit other people?

  • What wish on our tree is the most doable? Which is most unlikely to come true? Which is the silliest?

  • Which gratitude idea surprises you most? Which gratitude idea was repeated most?

  • Was it difficult to make time to think about wishes and gratitude every day for a week?

  • What, if anything, did we learn about one another by doing this activity? What, if anything, did you learn about yourself?

Resources

  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. “Want what you have” is the important lesson of this classic story, brought to life by the magical, and somewhat alarming, adventures of Sylvester.

  • No One But You by Douglas Wood. Take a close look at the astonishing, everyday wonders that make life beautiful. And consider how your own personal experiences, great and small, combine to make you absolutely unique.

Take it Further

  • Make one wish a reality. When you’ve completed your family’s Wishing Tree, consider the wishes your family has made for the world. Ask one another what you could do to support an organization that’s working to make that wish come true.
  • Keep reading about gratitude. Keep the conversations going with more great books about gratitude. Visit our picture books about gratitude and mindfulness.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.