Monday, November 23, 2015

Teaching Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is a two-part holiday - first, you've got the historical references, and then there are the social emotional lessons.  Thanksgiving is the perfect time to help children practice being thankful, and for very young preschoolers, this may be the first time they've ever considered the fact they they are lucky to have certain people and things in their lives.  There are a number of ways to help children focus on what they are thankful for this holiday season, here are a few ideas;

Host a food drive.  This doesn't have to be just for Thanksgiving, make it last until your winter break.  Families need help all winter long!  Some of your students may know what it is like to not have enough food to eat, others may not ever have considered that there are families who aren't able to eat dinner.  All of them can learn from sharing what they have with others.  A food drive is a concrete way to show children what it feels like to give to those in need.

Ask parents.  Giving parents an opportunity to write down what they are thankful for can create all kinds of conversations.  Create a display that encourages family members to write down one or two things they are thankful for this year, there's not doubt that the children will ask their parents what they're doing, and what they've chosen to write.  Then you can help the children do the same so that they can share their thoughts when their parents pick them up.  Thankful trees are popular, but you could also use turkey feathers, or if you want to leave it up throughout the holidays a Christmas tree with ornaments, or even snowflakes.

Read about it.  Books can teach all kinds of lessons, we know this very well.  Here are some great stories for teaching thankfulness;
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Being Thankful by Mercer Mayer
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
Abbey and the Thankful Tree by Madiha Yearwood

Talk about it.  Little ones talk in order to make sense of new information. Conversations can show you what they understand, and leave you with some sweet quotes to share with their families.  These Conversations Starters from Hands on as we grow are designed to get kids talking about Thanksgiving and thinking about gratitude.

What else do you do to help your students embrace the Thanksgiving spirit?  I'd love to hear your ideas, please share them in the comments!

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