Teaching Thankfulness

I {heart} Thanksgiving.  No, I really {big, puffy heart} Thanksgiving.  I am sure that some of my love of Thanksgiving has come with age as I have learned the importance of being thankful.  So this time of year I always incorporate some activity in my classroom that focuses on thanking others.  Project Thankfulness usually takes about 2 weeks and we give a few minutes each day to thinking about others and why we are thankful for them. 

This year as we started Project Thankfulness I had the kids brainstorm people they were thankful for.  Parents were at the top of the list so I gave the kids some homework.  I asked the kids to think about why they were thankful for their parents.  That night they were to go home and tell their parents thank you and explain why they were thankful for them.  The next day we shared how the parents reacted.  It was so fun to hear the stories from home, filled with hugs, kisses and more thank yous. 

Next step in Project Thankfulness is to think of people at school we are thankful for.  This year I decided we would open our own Post Office for Project Thankfulness.  Nothing fancy, I promise.  We added our thankfulness lesson to shared writing time and created giant letters to send to the people we are thankful for.  We did the first few letters whole class.

We started with a large piece of chart paper.  I added a rectangle at the top for our picture so it would resemble our writer's workshop paper.  We followed our writing rules by thinking first.  We thought of who we were thankful for and why.  Then we decided on the picture we would draw to go with our letter.  The kids came up 2 at a time to add details to the picture.  Then it was time to start writing.  We learned about the format for writing a letter and then started our letter. 

The rule in my classroom is that if the word can be found in the room it must be spelled correctly.  We went through word by word as a class and either found the word in the room or stretched out the word together as a volunteer added it to our letter.

When we were done we folded it up like an envelope and added the address and a stamp.  Then I allowed a couple people to play mailman and go deliver the letter.  They loved it and were so proud of their work!  Here's our first letter:

November 13, 2013
Dear Miss Taylor,
We are thankful for you.  Thank you for dancing
with us.  Thank you for helping us with centers.
Mrs. Biddison's Class
We repeated the process the next day whole group.  Then I decided to break them down into small groups and let them try it out themselves.  We had just too many people to thank to do it one at a time!

A couple groups were able to repeat the process without any help at all.  A couple groups made some very valiant attempts, and I worked closely with one group to complete their letter.  The groups that had a harder time with stretching out the words we will work on next week whole group.  Here's another one of our final letters.

November 15, 2013
Dear Mr. Trevino,
We are thankful for you. You help us
get our of our cars.  Thank you.
Mrs. Biddison's Class

Not only have I loved the opportunity to teach my kids to look at the things that others do, but this has been a great activity to review all the writing things we have been working on.

Last year, Project Thankfulness was a little different.  After having every student bring in a pumpkin for our pumpkin math and science, we had quite a few left over.  So we decided to turn the pumpkins into turkeys and hand them out to people that we were thankful for.  The students colored and cut out lots of turkey parts (heads and feathers).  We mixed them all up so that there was little bit of all of us in each turkey.  Then we did a whole class writing on our interactive board to create a card.  I printed the card multiple times and then we attached it to the turkey.  Each day we chose one or two people to deliver a turkey to.

When I taught third grade, the students would make cards and write letters to their old teachers and other people on campus that they were thankful for.  I just love having the opportunity to teach this to my students each year.  It's also a great reminder for me of all the people I am thankful for. 

I would love to know how you teach your kids about being thankful.  Please leave a comment and share with us!

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