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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gratitude at Thanksgiving and Year Long Theme

Gratitude is a Year Long Theme

Friendship, kindness, responsibility, and gratitude are yearlong curriculum themes in many of our classrooms. “Thank you” is a caring phrase that builds healthy relationships and positive attitudes about friends and life inside and outside of the classroom.

Consider opportunities for children to share appreciation:

Teach children in pairs to turn and look at their classmates and talk (eye-to-eye and knee-to-knee) about an idea, a feeling, or curriculum theme. Model polite communication and invite the children to practice. Teach them to end the brief dialog with “Jeremy, thank you for sharing…” and “Thank you for sharing too, Ryan!”

Teach children American Sign Language for “thank you” (with a smile on their faces ). They can sign “Thank you” to visitors and to each other. Again, see the ASL Browser for Sign Language Instruction: Michigan State University ASL (American Sign Language) Browser

Teach children to read, write, and spell “Thank you”. A memorable spelling song for “thank” uses the old folk melody, What Do We Do With a Drunken Sailor? Sing the letters “t-h-a-n-k”four times – once with each line of the song – and watch the children quickly learn to spell, write, and read “thank”! They will know “you” from our M-O-M Spells Mom song that teaches Mom, Dad, you and me. (Listen to the free audio from the Music is Magic CD with Nellie Edge and Tom Hunter.)

Children can surprise parents with “thank-you” notes.
After children have practiced writing “thank you” repeatedly for fluency building, give them 3″ x 8½″ strips of paper to make several “thank you” notes to take home in an envelope. A child can hide them under pillows, by the phone, in Dad’s shoes, etc. (Thank you, Patti Peck, for this delightful literacy gift idea.)

Look for opportunities within the classroom for children to establish eye contact and practice saying “thank you” to each other: When someone passes them snacks, pushes chairs in, or holds the door open, etc.

Three wonderful books on gratitude: Thank you!
These delightful books invite children to have "grand conversations" about all the things they are thankful for:

1. Thank You, World, by Alice B. McGinty (Dial Books, 2007). Publisher description: “The joys of childhood are the same the whole world over. In this compelling book of celebratory rhyme and glowing pictures, eight very different kids from eight different countries all go about their day and experience the same moments of happiness: greeting the sun in the morning, swinging on a swing, flying a kite, being tucked in by Mommy at bedtime. Uplifting and visually rich, this book reminds us that the world isn’t as large as it seems and that life’s greatest pleasures are the simple ones.”

2. Giving Thanks, by Jonathan London (Candlewick Press, 2003). A young boy learns to show gratitude for all the beauty he sees from his father, who thanks the sky and animals and trees. Like his Indian friends, this father believes that things of nature are a gift that requires something be given back – a thank you. The Booklist review says it, “…fosters respect for the natural world through a relatively simple text and illustrations and express the beauty and dignity of nature.” And we agree!

3. Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Marks (Harper Collins, 2004). This warm, joyful book celebrates the many things children are thankful for – from Thanksgiving turkey and pie to hopscotch and fall leaves. Sharing this simple book is a wonderful way to foster a spirit of gratitude. The message inspires children to think about the many things they have to say “Thank you” for. As an extra bonus, the print is clear and large enough to engage early readers.

November Themes
The story of Thanksgiving and a study of the gifts of the Native Americans to the pilgrims and the Native American view of the natural world provide an opportunity to create rich November curriculum themes including foods and nutrition. Wise kindergarten teacher Joanie Cuttler involved families in creating a “Thankful Feast for Native Americans,” held in the classroom for families. Before the feast, the children performed songs and dances. (Always, there are celebrations of language…)

Source: Nellie Edge Kindergarten and Early Literacy Site
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