Cold weather creeps up, leaves begin to change, and pumpkin everything enters the stores. This is my favorite time of year when I get to decorate with pumpkins, cornstalks, and hay bales and when holidays like Sukkot and Thanksgiving leave my heart full of gratitude for friends and family. The Fall season always reminds me that all too often during the year I forget to stop, take a breath, and give thanks. As a parent and teacher, it’s my goal to model gratefulness in my daily life and teach my children how to express their gratitude throughout the year- not just remembering to do so around the holidays. Here are some ways I incorporated thankful spirits and grateful hearts in my classroom (and in my home):
- Start a Thankful Tree – each morning at circle time, pick a child to say one thing they are thankful for. At the end of the year, you, the children, and their parents will be able to see how their thankfulness changes and grows throughout the year.
- Each week choose one family to write a thank you note to.
- Have the children write thank you cards to their parents – incorporate cards, envelopes, sight words in the writing center.
- Model gratefulness to children by telling them why you are thankful for them – be specific about things they did during the day or noticed how nicely they acted with their peers.
- For older school age children, read biographies of people who have changed or impacted our society in positive ways.
- Start gratitude journals with children, having them either write or draw what they are grateful for.
- Start a thankfulness story collection for your classroom library – here are few of my favorites:
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Williams
The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco
Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Jake Swamp
Grateful- A Song of Giving Thanks by John Bucchino