Thankful tree activity - Photo of a hand drawn tree with green leaves with writing on

Make and talk activity for children: Thankful Tree

Grief can be overwhelming for children (and adults) with lots of different emotions and questions swirling around their head. The Thankful Tree is an activity that allows children a moment to take a step back from all those overwhelming emotions and focus on the things they currently have in their life that they are thankful for, or that make them feel good.

How our Thankful Tree activity can help a grieving child

Feeling good and talking about things that they feel happy about doesn’t erase the child’s other emotions, but it could allow them some breathing room and give them something to work on to take their mind off their situation. Having a completed tree to look at when they are having a bad day can also help the child, as it can give them ideas as to what they might like to do to help themselves feel better.

All children are different, some may jump at the opportunity to talk about things they are thankful for, and others may find this more difficult if they’re not feeling like it that day.

Puddle jumping is an analogy often used to describe how children jump in and out of their emotions when they’re grieving. It may be that one minute they are crying and feel all consumed by their sadness, but a minute later they may be ready to play a game as a welcome distraction. The emotions children feel in grief have no set time limit, order they’ll come up in, or expiry dates, so their reaction over time is not something we can predict.

If the child asks you some questions or brings up big emotions during this make and talk activity, it’s okay to let them know you aren’t sure what to say right now but you will come back to that question or topic later. It is really important that you do come back to them when you’ve had a chance to process and find an answer, this will enable the child to trust you should they need to speak with you again about their grief. Winston’s Wish can help with those tricky questions or unexpected topics, and you can call us on 08088 020 021.

Make a Thankful Tree

Photo of the materials you need for the Thankful Tree activity - green and white A4 paper, pens, scissors, tape and glue
You will need:
  • 3 sheets of A4 paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Help from a grown-up!
How to make a Thankful Tree
Photo of a child's hand holding two sheets of white paper stuck together - Thankful tree activity, step 1

1. Tape 2 sheets of A4 paper together to make an A3 size.

Photo of a child drawing a tree trunk on paper - Thankful tree activity, step 2

2. Draw out the outline of a tree trunk in the centre of the pages.

Photo of a child drawing branches of a tree - Thankful tree, step 3

3. Draw some branches coming out of the top of the tree trunk – as many as you like!

Photo of child's hand holding a leaf shape cut from green paper - Thankful tree, step 4

4. Take your third A4 sheet of paper and ask a grown-up to cut out some leaf shapes for you. If you have any green paper, you could use that, if not you could colour them in using a light green coloured pencil or pen.

Photo of child's hand writing on a leaf shape - Thankful tree activity, step 5

5. You’re ready to write! Grab a pen or pencil! On each leaf, you can write something you’re thankful for or that makes you feel good: a person’s name; your teddy or toy’s name; your favourite song, TV show, food or drink; anything that makes you feel good and you’re grateful for right now. You can draw and write on as many leaves as you like.

Thankful tree activity - Photo of a hand drawn tree with green leaves with writing on

6. When you’ve written on your leaves, you can glue them (with a grown-up) to the end of each branch. If you have more leaves than branches, you can stick the other leaves over the top of the branches! When your tree is finished, you can display it somewhere so you can revisit it whenever you like.

Getting grief support

Our bereavement support workers are available to offer information, guidance and support, right away. Reach out on 08088 020 021 or use our live chat (click the blue ‘chat’ button on the bottom right of your screen) between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday. You can also email us on and we’ll get back to you within two working days.

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