Maniac Monday: Thanksgiving Lessons All Year Round
November 23, 2009 in Elementary Educators, High School Teachers, Making Personal Connections, Maniac Mondays, Personal Connections, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, Shared Writing, Writing Skills Tags: Gratitude Journals, Simple Abundance, Thank you notes, Thanksgiving Lessons, Writing Skills
Thanksgiving at the Trolls
photo by floodllama www.flickr.com
Everyone’s writing about Thanksgiving lessons right now since we are just days away from one of the best holidays in the United States. It’s a time to celebrate our blessings, laugh with family, eat yummy food, and get ready for Black Friday. But it would be great if we could teach Thanksgiving lessons to our students and our children throughout the entire year and not just at Thanksgiving time. It would also be wonderful if we could practice these Thanksgiving lessons ourselves. Time always gets in the way–believe me, I know. But here are a couple ideas–one of them is so simple and many of us already do it anyway. And many of us have our students do it and our children already do it, too. (So, pat yourselves on the back!)
Thanksgiving Lessons #1:
Thank you notes: See, many of you are already nodding your head and saying, “Yes, I write thank you notes, and yes, I make my children write them, too!” Good for you! Opportunities exist all around us to show people we are thankful for them and their actions (beyond gift-giving even), and this is what I would like to do with my stepson this year. For example, one of our good family friends is having my entire family (including my parents and two crazy dogs) over for Thanksgiving and my stepson’s birthday party. WOW! This is extremely nice and generous of her, and we can’t wait to celebrate Thanksgiving with her. So, how do we show her our gratitude when we get home? We write her a thank you note. A REAL NOTE, not an e-mail. I usually have my stepson do the illustrations and the writing since that helps him work on fine motor skills, writing, and spelling, and then I add my own little note in the card, too. If you are a teacher and you have a guest speaker or are invited to another class for a play or even receive an award for being quiet in the hall, your class could write thank you notes to show gratitude for these events. You might have different forms of letter writing in your curriculum, and this thank-you-note project could satisfy one objective. Thanksgiving lessons are all around us all year long!
photo by babasteve www.flickr.com
Thanksgiving Lessons #2:
Gratitude Journals for Children or Teens: I wrote an article about this for Families magazine in Champaign, IL. A gratitude journal is a great idea for classrooms and home school parents. Every day, your child writes at least one thing (hopefully more!) that he or she is thankful for and tries not to repeat the items after they are already mentioned in the gratitude journal. At first, your child or your students will probably write material objects in their gratitude journals; but eventually, they will see the bigger picture and start writing about family members, friends, and special occasions. Here’s a snippet from my article about creating gratitude journals:
How do you make gratitude journals with your family? (This idea can also be for classrooms):
*Before any supplies come out, it is important to discuss what the word gratitude means. If you have your own gratitude journal, maybe show it to your family members, especially your children. If you wrote that you were thankful for umbrellas on a rainy day, explain why you were grateful for umbrellas that day. If the names of your children have been included in your journal, show them and tell them why.
*Each family member should start with a solid-colored notebook. If you do not have notebooks, you can take 10 to 12 blank 8 ½ X 11 inch sheets of paper, fold them in half, and put two staples at the fold to make a book.
*Gather supplies to decorate the front of the notebooks. You can use stickers, markers, ribbon, glitter, or anything that can stick and make your gratitude journal unique.
*Before family members decorate the front, they should label it with their name and the words, “Gratitude Journal.” Then they create a unique journal with whatever decorations they want.
I came up with this idea after reading Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach several years ago.
Do you have any Thanksgiving lessons to share?