At Walkabouts, we believe in the importance of giving thanks throughout the year. Showing gratitude and appreciation helps to instill a sense of happiness and joy while building high quality relationships with others. The benefits of giving thanks make it an important technique to incorporate for social and emotional health and growth.
With the Thanksgiving season upon us, it is a perfect time to incorporate activities of thanks and gratitude that keep students active and engaged. Here are a few ways to emphasize the importance of giving thanks in the classroom.
“ONE, TWO, I’M THANKFUL FOR YOU”
Have students show their thanks using song and movement with “One, Two, I’m Thankful for You” said to the rhythm of the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.”
One, two, I’m thankful for you.
(Hug your arms to your chest, and open them wide.)
Three, four, here’s what I adore.
(Bring your fingers and thumbs together in the shape of a heart.)
Five, six, look at this!
(Put your hands in the shape of binoculars up to your eyes and scan the room for friends.)
Seven, eight, aren’t these great?
(Begin with your arms bent and fingers close to shoulders, and straighten your arms out while jumping two times.)
Nine, ten, I’m grateful again!
(Do a big spin.)
After learning the rhyme, ask students to list 10 things they are thankful for. Students can keep their lists in mind whenever they say the rhyme!
- One, Two: Two people at school they are thankful for
- Three, Four: Two indoor activities they are thankful for
- Five, Six: Two people outside of school they are thankful for
- Seven, Eight: Two favorite foods they are thankful for
- Nine, Ten: Two outdoor activities they are thankful for
THE GRATEFUL TURKEY TROT
As a class, brainstorm several people at school students want to thank. People may include administrators, school office staff, school nurses, media specialists, custodians, and specials teachers. After the list is complete, have the class work together to create a large construction paper turkey with a message of thanks to distribute to each person.
Each turkey should include a body, feet, eyes, a beak, a wattle, and each student’s name written on a feather. The turkey should be big enough for a message of thanks to be written on its body. Assembling the turkey should be a collaborative effort. Every student should write their first name on a feather and paste their name feather on each turkey.
When the turkeys have been assembled and are completely dry, lead the class around the school on a Grateful Turkey Trot to distribute their messages of thanks. Consider having students perform the “One, Two, I’m Thankful for You” rhyme for each person.
This project is great not only for building classroom community through the collaborative process, but it is also an effective way to teach students about their school community.
GATHERING LEAVES FOR THE THANKFULNESS TREE
During the autumn season, leaves fall from trees and gather on the ground. This classroom activity will mimic that process as students pick up fallen leaves and place them on a classroom thankfulness tree.
"Plant" a flat or three-dimensional thankfulness tree in your classroom. For either tree, you will need open wall space to place the tree.
- To create a three-dimensional tree trunk, use a small bare branch, a fake decorative tree branch, or build a trunk using paper towel and toilet paper tubes.
- To create a one-dimensional tree trunk, use brown paper grocery bags, brown bulletin board paper, or brown construction paper to create the trunk.
Cut out three construction paper leaves for each student. If desired, you may also collect large real leaves (with students' help) to use for the activity. Give each student three construction paper leaves, and have students write one thing or person that they are thankful for on each leaf. If you are using real leaves, write students' items on the leaves using a permanent marker. Ideas include family members, friends, classmates, members of the school community, pets, favorite toys, favorite foods, favorite indoor activities, favorite outdoor activities, favorite sports or sports teams, etc.
Spread a blanket, sheet, or small parachute in an open space on the classroom floor. After students have completed their leaves, have students “rake” the leaves with their fingers and drop them on the blanket, letting them fall to the floor like real leaves fall to the ground. Each student should then find a spot around the edge of the blanket while making sure there’s room for everyone. When every student has placed their leaves on the blanket and gathered around, students should collectively pick up the blanket, shake it, and send the leaves flying throughout the classroom.
Next, each student should collect three leaves and return to their seat. With teacher assistance, each student should read to the class what others are thankful for, and attach the leaves to the classroom thankfulness tree using tape. The tree will serve as a visual reminder of students’ gratitude during this season of thanks. If desired, let students take home their leaves when you take down the Thankfulness Tree.
These activities are sure to instill feelings of gratitude and thanks while incorporating movement and fun and building classroom community!
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