Gratitude in the Classroom

by Howard Gerber on December 8, 2011

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During our fast paced lives, it is easy to forget that we all have something to be grateful for. Not simply the material possessions we enjoy, but the little things we may not even consider on a daily basis such as being able to see the leaves changing colors, listening to the holiday music, smelling pumpkin pies baking, or enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with our friends and family. Students especially need to be reminded how privileged they are simply to be able to attend schools and have the ability to learn.

Special education teachers have a unique perspective on gratitude because they work daily with children who have to struggle simply to learn and often to be accepted by a community of their peers. The Thanksgiving season is a great time to remind these special children, and all of the children in the school, of just how amazing their lives really are and all that they have to be grateful for.

Many schools decorate for the seasonal changes and various holidays. This year recommend that your school decorate with a theme of gratitude.

Doors

Instead of having children create large turkey decorations for classroom doors as students in each homeroom to make a gratitude door. Let them use their imaginations to show what they are grateful for or to make a visual representation of gratitude for everyone to enjoy. One idea is to have the children write what they are grateful for on construction paper feathers to decorate a larger paper turkey.

Bulletin Boards

Ask teachers to create bulletin boards around the theme of thankfulness. Let the adults create this without student participation so the children get a different perspective. History teachers may want to focus on how different life is now from the past and what people now have to be thankful for. Literature teachers could highlight famous literary characters that were always positive in the face of adversity such as the sisters in Little Women or the family in the Little House series. Math teachers may want to make graphs showing world poverty by country or homelessness by state to bring the children’s attention to the plights of others.

Speakers

Ask students to make a list of ten things they are grateful for. To put their lives into perspective, invite speakers who have disabilities, who have lived in impoverished countries, or lived in war zones to come speak to the student population. Let them tell the children about their lives and what they have overcome. Afterwards ask the students to imagine living in the same circumstances and to write a new list of ten things they are grateful for. Compare the lists and discuss what changes they made and why. What things are they newly appreciative of?

 How will you help your students realize all they have to be grateful for this year?

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