One of the most important lessons a parent can teach a child is the gift of gratitude. Our children typically learn lessons about thankfulness by watching us; but it never hurts to employ a hands-on technique that makes learning this incredibly important virtue a great deal of fun! Bond with your kids by creating these recycled gratitude journals out of everyday items you probably have around your house.
Before you gather the supplies to make your gratitude journals, whip up this great homemade glue. When made correctly, this recipe produces silky smooth glue which binds just as well as any white store bought glue. Best of all, it’s made with all natural ingredients that you most likely have in your kitchen this minute!
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE GLUE:
1. In a small bowl, mix together 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1 Tablespoon cornstarch. (Note: Do not use whole wheat flour, as it spoils more quickly and will make a lumpier glue.)
2. In a saucepan, boil 1/2 cup water. Slowly add this boiling water to flour/cornstarch mixture while stirring with whisk. Mix well
3. Return this mixture to the saucepan and place on the stove over low heat.
4. Stir constantly with whisk until glue has thickened. The glue will thicken more as it cools, so don’t cook it too long.
5. If glue is too thick upon cooling, reheat slowly and add a teaspoon of water at a time, until it reaches desired consistency.
6. Glue may be used as soon as it is cool enough to handle. Transfer remaining glue to an airtight container, such as an old baby food or sauce jar. Store in the refrigerator. This recipe is supposed to yield enough glue to last for weeks in the fridge, but it’s never around that long in our house!
HOW TO MAKE RECYCLED GRATITUDE JOURNALS
1. Gather any supplies that you and your kids can find around the house that have creative potential. Try not to go to the store and buy new supplies, which would defeat the purpose. Some good possible supplies include: used tin foil, dried pasta and beans, paperboard and cardboard boxes, string, ribbons, fabric scraps, twist ties, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, magazines, junk mail, buttons, coffee grounds, and of course crayons and markers.
2. The first thing you’ll need to do is scrounge up a front and back cover for your journal. Try to find two pieces of sturdy paperboard or cardboard that are the same size, such as box flaps. My daughter’s journal cover (see top photo) is made from the front and back panels of a butter box. You can make the pages out of any scrap paper that’s available to you. We used two pieces for each page, glued together so that the blank sides were facing out.
3. After you round up your supplies, covers, and pages, it’s time to talk with your child about thankfulness. If your child is under five years of age, don’t get too complicated, and don’t expect that your child’s pages will perfectly portray the things they’re thankful for. Take my daughter for instance. She’s almost three, so I decided that she could pick three things she’s thankful for to include in her journal. She chose family, kitties, and pizza. I wrote the words at the top of each page, and let her decorate them as she saw fit. Although my family actually looks nothing like a pile of beans, I know this journal is something I’ll treasure for years to come.
4. Let your child decorate his or her journal any way they’d like to. Remember: it’s the process that matters, not the end result. The point is that your child has fun and celebrates thankfulness.
5. When your child has finished decorating the journal, set the pages in a safe place to dry. After 24 hours or so, use a hole punch to create a few holes in the same spot along each page’s left edge (don’t forget the covers). Tie the book together with several lengths of string, and your journal is complete! You now have a memento that celebrates gratitude, and in years to come, you’ll be able to look back on this journal and see what your child was thankful for, once upon a time! Why not make recycled gratitude journals an annual Thanksgiving tradition? My family is certainly planning on doing so!