5 Ways to Teach Children Gratitude


There’s nothing more powerful in changing our lives than having an attitude of gratitude. But in today’s society, it is SOOOO easy to overwhelmed with wants, efficiency, and discontent. I love November because of Thanksgiving, but if you are like me, I don’t want November to be the only month my kids show thankfulness. You too?

So here are 5 simple ways you can teach your children how to have a heart of thankfulness. I mean after all, those who are more thankful and content have an overall more satisfied and happier life (there’s tons of research out regarding how it effects so many areas of life like self-esteem, optimism, etc. Go check it out!)… And isn’t that what we want most for our children?

Daily Gratitude

This one is SO simple and something I try to practice myself. Each day as I tuck my ids away to bed (or even periodically throughout the day), I’ll ask them to name something they are thankful for. Some of the answers are TO DIE FOR cute. Seriously! I think my son is thankful for garbage trucks nearly every day ūüėČ

Encourage Generosity

This past year we’ve been attempting to make major changes in our clutter around the house.¬† As a part of that, we’ve all given away a TON of stuff (Checkout my 5 Steps To Break Free From Clutter if you want to ditch clutter). We encouraged the kids to choose one thing to give away each day. I was actually amazed at how little resistance we experienced from them.¬† They were actually very excited to give to others.

Turn around the No

It’s sometimes so hard to go into a store with my kids because I feel like I get bombarded with the “I need this” or “will you buy me this” questions.¬† I hate using the word no and try to use it sparingly but geesh….shopping can be downright exhausting.¬† A huge focus for us this year is to eliminate ‘stuff’ so that we have more time and space to focus on our relationships.¬† So now, instead of just saying no I remind them of why we are saying no…. so that we have more time and money to spend on things we all enjoy like vacation, trips to the zoo, or Disneyland.¬† The no to the impulse buy becomes now something they are excited about and willingly put the item back on the shelf.¬† Kids crave relationship. And while they would love the latest and greatest toy, they more desire YOU.

Encourage them to Serve Others

I grew up serving people who were homeless or living on the streets and I cannot say enough about how it shaped my view of the world, gratitude, politics, and so much more.¬† Last year our family took coffee and breakfast to people who were homeless the day after Christmas.¬† It was an AMAZING experience for them. But in this stage of life, I just don’t feel it’s practical for us to do on a regular and ongoing basis.¬† So we’ve found other ways to serve.¬† We’ve connected with an amazing organization called Safe Families.¬† It’s given us the opportunity to bring children into our home, love them, and serve them.¬† My kids then have hands on real life, tangible exposure to serving those in need.¬† There are so many ways for families to serve together, whether it be as simple as picking up trash, serving food in a homeless shelter, giving gifts for Operation Christmas Child and others.

Please and Thank You’s

There is some thing so fundamental in manners that can have profound impacts on gratitude.¬† But rather than forcing your kids to say them just out of formality, make them meaningful (this is similar to why I never force my kids to say sorry).¬† When saying something is forced, it loses its value and meaning.¬† A gentle reminder such as “did you say thank you when Maya gave you a flower” reminds kids that even simple actions are something to be grateful for.¬† Just the same, encouraging them to write thank you notes reminds them of how many things in our lives we have to be thankful for.


Do you have any fun ways you teach gratefulness? I’m going to share some of my favorites in the next month and would love to highlight yours! Drop them below or email me renae@renaefieck.com

Sensory Alert!: Rice Bin

Alright, I have work on the brain! But my work is fun! I love being an OT. Today my daughter and I participated in her homeschool preschool program. We’ve been on sort of a hiatus because of other stuff going on but we decided to do a little today. We read about Joseph in the bible and his coat of many colors. We talked about how his family came to him for food. This is what led us to playing with rice!


It’s an easy activity. It can oftentimes be a little messy so I try to do it outside but today we just let the mess happen! It’s great that you can teach your kids that it’s okay to explore and let life (and mess) happen and that in the end, you can clean it up again! Isn’t it true? There always seems to be redemption in the end, especially when God is involved (or should I say, invited to be involved!).

We played with the rice for a little while and then we upped the activity by adding food coloring to the rice and making a rainbow of colors (playing off of Joseph’s coat of many colors). It was easy. Just a few drops of food coloring and then stirred it in with the rice. (A word of caution: many kids do not respond well to food colors and additives within their food. While they typically won’t be consuming the rice, it is something to be aware of. In an ideal world, if this had been a planned activity, I would have sought out more natural forms of food coloring.)

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From the OT in me, here is why I love this activity:

  • Tactile-The number one thing about this activity is the tactile exploration. Kids can run their fingers through it, let it drip on their hands, bury their hands, etc. It provides a vast array of sensations. It’s great for kids that avoid sensory stimuli, crave it, or none of the above! Overall, it’s great for the tactile system. Adding other objects into the bin also encourages tactile discrimination, distinguishing between 2 objects through the use of the hands.
  • Fine Motor- While this may be a less of a fine motor activity than others, the clean up is where you can really get into the fine motor. Picking up those small grains of rice is a great pincer grasp exercise.
  • Cognition/Communication- With the colors, you can have lots of conversations about the colors. With other added elements, smells, toys, other objects, there is lots of conversation topics if you are doing this activity together. What about numbers too? Count some of the rice, or objects within the rice? Possibilities are endless!
  • Self-Regulation- It can be a great activity to increase calming in your child. (Ok I have to admit I have had kids with the opposite experience–picture millions of grains of rice flying around the room!). Many kids will sit and attend to this task for a good period of time (ahh! attention to task skills!).
  • Olfactory- While we didn’t do it during this activity today, adding a few drops of essential oils to the bin can provide another sensory input. You can add scents based off their alerting vs. calming qualities (i.e. peppermint, wild orange, eucalyptus¬†may be alerting while¬†lavender, vanilla,or calming blends¬†may provide more calming). The rice of itself tends to have a scent which provide a olfactory sensory component for those who may be overwhelmed by smells.
  • Visual– With the added colors, you can play games identifying colors, separating colors (ooh! that plays with the fine motor pincer too!), you name it! Have fun exploring different objects within the rice. Visually finding objects of similar colors hidden in the rice, etc. There are some great theme oriented rice bin ideas at¬†Imagination Tree.
  • Gross Motor Coordination- My daughter stirred the food coloring into the rice, which demonstrated to be a great task for developing the coordination to stir, without stirring too fast so that all the rice flew out. She was also using her cars to race up a ramp and dive into the buckets too. All great upper body coordination tasks.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Do you eat your Easter eggs? Growing up, we always ate them but it never occurred to me that some people don’t till today. ¬†As I was chopping away at all of our ingredients to make these Easter eggs, my husband made a comment about the amount of work to get natural eggs when we don’t eat them. ¬†I was surprised because I always have and had planned to make an egg salad sandwich with these eggs in a day or so. If you don’t eat them, it may be worth your while to just buy the boxed dye because this isn’t super quick. ¬†But it is also fun to see how natural ingredients can turn the eggs colors.

We had great success with some and not with others. ¬†If you’ve tried any, let me know what you’ve had success with.

Our greatest success: Turmeric. I’ll list the ingredients below in order of success. We had no success with the cabbage.

  • Add 2 tbsp turmeric to 1 cup of boiling water. Then add 2 tsp of white vinegar (YELLOW EGG)
  • 1 cup grape juice to 1 tablespoon of vinegar (SUPPOSED TO BE LAVENDER EGG. OURS TURNED OUT SORT OF GREEN)
  • Peels of 6 yellow onions. Add 2 cups of boiling water and let set for at least 15 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar (ORANGE EGG)
  • Peels of 6 red onions. Add 2 cups of boiling water and let set for at least 15 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar (SUPPOSED TO BE SORT OF GREEN EGG. OURS TURNED OUT BROWN)
  • Dice 1 medium beet and add to 4 cups boiling water. Add 2tbsp of vinegar and let cool completely before extracting the beets. ¬†(PINK EGG)
  • Add 1/4 cup cabbage to 4 cups boiling water. Add 2 tbsp of vinegar. Let cool completely before extracting the cabbage (we added the vinegar after straining the cabbage. That may have been our error. ¬†I re-added it to the cabbage and put the egg into the bowl with the cabbage and still didn’t get any color). (SUPPOSED TO BE BLUE EGG. OURS DID NOTHING).

Also, I was wondering why our pink eggs came out sort of speckled and found an article online that said if you leave the foods in the liquid, rather than straining them that you can get some fun effects like that. ¬†When our pink wasn’t working really well, I added the eggs in with the liquid and the beets. ¬†They colored up quickly that way and came out sort of speckled.

This definitely isn’t the way to dye eggs with toddlers either. ¬†The time it took for the color to show up on the eggs is significantly longer than with standard dye methods. ¬†My little toddler lost patience waiting and had a grand time sticking her fingers in the bowls playing with the eggs. ¬†I would suppose leaving the eggs longer or using more condensed liquid (more food to water ratio) would help create more vibrant colors. I may put a few eggs into the liquid in the fridge and see what color changes I notice with increased time.

In order to make your eggs shiny, you can polish them with a little oil (vegetable, olive, or coconut).

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I thought I’d throw in this picture because I was really surprised. ¬†The left is the cabbage strained juice prior to vinegar and the right is after adding the vinegar. ¬†It’s the only one that changed colors when I added the vinegar but it was pretty crazy. Not really sure what I did wrong with the cabbage to get no color on our eggs. ¬†Maybe next time.IMG_7244IMG_7251 IMG_7254

Teaching Kids about Money with DIY Money Jars

Americans in total owe¬†$11.68 trillion in debt (according to here). That’s crazy! We need to train the next generation to get out of debt.

My parents did a great job of trying to teach me about money as I was growing up, but I sure wish I knew more and managed my money better.  I am grateful for all they taught me and hope to teach my children the value of money.

When my daughter’s piggy bank was unexpectedly broken recently, we decided to be a little more money wise with her rather than just saving. ¬†Because even the Bible talks about not just saving our money but using it wisely to make it grow (Matthew 25:14-28), and at the same time not serving money as a master (Matthew 6:24).

I wanted to teach my daughter how to give the first fruits of her money to God and to others. Thus we created a “Give” jar. ¬†She contributes to this jar first. ¬†She then has a “Save” jar which is used for saving and making investments for growth. ¬†She also has a “Spend” jar in which she contributes to last.

I look forward to teaching her more in depth and with more complexity about money as time goes on but being only 2, this is a great place for us to start.

Here’s what we did…And again, we used supplies we already had around the house (teaching the value of conserving money by recycling).

Supplies Needed

  • Glass jars
  • Food Coloring
  • Mod Podge
  • Various craft supplies

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1. Add tablespoon of mod podge, 1/2 tbs of water and about 5 drops of food color

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2. Swirl it around in the jar till covered and then flip upside down and let liquid run outbanks (3 of 5)

3. After about 30 min put them on wax paper in the oven on warm for 10 min.

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4. Remove from oven and let continue to dry.

5. We painted the lids too with just acrylic craft paintbanks (5 of 5)

DIY Easter Empty Tomb Craft

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Our empty tomb after the chia seeds grew! Love it!

Easter is just around the corner! One off my favorite times of the year. ¬†Not only is it a spring, with all things new, beautiful flowers, and bright colors, it’s also the celebration of Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead.

empty tomb
This was our inspiration photo that has been floating around the internet. My mom shared the photo with me.

My mom sent me a picture to make an empty tomb decoration with my daughter. ¬†My daughter was incredibly excited about it (she loves watching the stories of Jesus on my iphone Bible for Kids app by YouVersion and reading in her Bible). ¬†We got so excited we set out looking around the house for the supplies. ¬†Luckily, we found everything we needed…thus also learning the value of recycling, re-purposing, and saving our financial resources. ¬†I love craft projects that don’t require purchasing anything and yet you are still able to make something new and beautiful.

Here’s what you need:

  • A small terracotta pot (ours might be a little big but again, we were trying to repurpose things we had)
  • A round pan, or pot bottom/tray
  • Some rocks
  • Some dirt
  • Chia seed, grass seed, or moss
  • Some sticks
  • Pipe cleaner, glue, or other means of fastening the cross

It’s pretty simple to complete once you have all the supplies (and feel free to improvise as needed). We used chia seeds and after the first few days, the dirt was so dry I was worried that they wouldn’t grow and was planning to go buy some moss. ¬†However, today I noticed ¬†a few little sprouts. I’ll post a picture as it gets green! ¬†I was just too excited not to share this now so that others could do it for Easter too! (SEE OUR PICTURE AT THE TOP OF THIS POST!)easter (1 of 2) easter (2 of 2)

DIY Nursing Cover

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This year, there are so many new babies in my family! My son as born 4 weeks ago and I’m expecting two nephews and a surprise 2nd cousin in the next few months. It’s so much fun to watch our families growing and for our kids to all be close in age (my son and nephew will be nearly exactly a month apart!).

I love to sew and try to create things, even if I’m not the most experienced. ¬†I think it’s the fun in seeing something created from just pieces. ¬†I’m a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding. I’ll maybe write a post about that one of these times because I’m surprised at how little people actually do know about the benefits. ¬†I have found breastfeeding has received a lot of publicity in recent years, especially regarding to cover or not to cover and women’s rights to nurse anywhere they choose. ¬†I won’t get into the debate here. It’s a whole other can of worms. ¬†However, for me, I have found much more comfort and peace when nursing when I’ve had a cover. My cousin is the only one having her first baby and so I decided to make her a nursing cover (knowing both my sister and sister in law don’t need one).I’m going to share with you how I made it, and trying to give you pointers in what I did wrong and how I would do it differently next time.

I’ve had 2-3 nursing covers and liked different features of all of them. ¬†Thus, this one combines those features. ¬†Many nursing covers have a D-Ring with and adjustable strap. I found it to be unnecessary and honestly the extra fabric for the strap just got messy and in the way.¬†That’s why I found it brilliant that a friend made me one with an elastic strap instead! Love it!¬†One of my covers has fabric on 2 sides, thus making it a little stiffer. ¬†This is beneficial for keeping the cover’s shape so you can adjust and see your baby without your cover just collapsing on you.

Supplies you Need:

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  • 2 different fabrics 3/4 yard each
  • 17-18 inch piece of 3/4″-1″ elastic
  • 15 inches of boning

(Sew at 1/4″ unless otherwise specified)

1. Cut a piece of both fabric “A” and fabric “B” into 36″x25.” Cut a piece of both fabric A & fabric B that is 20×2 (if you use 3/4″ elastic, you can make this a little thinner instead of 2″).nursingcover (3 of 17)

2. Pin together the 20×2 pieces together with right sides facing each other. Pin your elastic to one of the short ends. Sew along the 3 sides you pinned, leaving one end open to turn it inside out. Your elastic will be sewn in on the one end but able to freely move otherwise.
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3. Put a safety pin on the free end of the elastic so that it makes it easier to retrieve once you’ve turned your strap inside out. Turn the strap inside out. Press with an iron.

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4. Press¬†1/2″ hem along the top (one of the long sides) of Fabric A. This will be the outside of your cover so choose the fabric you want visible. Find the middle. Tuck the boning into the hem and pin in place.Image

5. Retrieve the end of the elastic out of the collar piece and pin both elastic and fabric along hemline at end of boning. Pin other end of collar at other end of boning.

6.Stitch along the edge of the hemline across the entire edge of fabric.  Also create vertical stitches at each end of the boning to keep it in place.

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7. Press 1/2″ hemline on Fabric B just as you did on Fabric A. Pin together fabric A and Fabric B with right sides together. Stitch along 3 sides (not side with the collar). Once it is stitched together, turn it side out. Snip the corners so that they lay nicely. Iron/press along edges.¬†nursingcover (8 of 17)

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8. Stitch along side with collar (as close to the edge as you like- you’ll already have one stitch line visible so it sometimes looks nice to have one really close to the edge to have 2 parallel stitch lines running together).

9. I added a stitch line around the other 3 sides at 1/2″ line to help keep the 2 fabrics smooth and neat. It isn’t necessary but adds a nice touch.

10. You’re done!

nursingcover (14 of 17)I love this fabric! I wish I were keeping the cover for myself.

nursingcover (16 of 17)The cover’s boning really allows for ease of seeing baby while nursing. This is a downward view while wearing.

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I meant to write these directions as I did it but got stuck problem solving and didn’t so if I missed something or wrote something incorrectly, let me know!