Thanksgiving Activities to Inspire Gratitude in the Classroom
When I was in elementary school, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays to celebrate.
The classroom glowing with warm autumn colors, a crisp fall breeze flowing through the windows, and excitement in the air remains vivid in my memory to this day.
Recently, I asked some of my family and friends to recall a Thanksgiving tradition from grade school that they were grateful for. Their answers varied from hand-turkeys to holiday recitals, yet shared one commonality. With smiles stretched across their faces, narrating these sweet childhood memories, they remembered how happy it made them feel.
The Grateful Brain
Dr. Alex Korb at PsychologyToday.com explores the neuroscience of giving thanks in his article titled “The Grateful Brain”. He explains how practicing gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin, and the effects of this practice range from improved sleep, attention, and optimism to decreased depression and anxiety. In order to reap these benefits, he encourages the practice of daily gratitude:
“Gratitude takes practice like any other skill. Thanksgiving Day is a good time to start, but if you want to reap all the benefits, keep practicing after that. Try thinking of one thing every day that you’re grateful for.”
With the happiness of our teachers and students being a top priority, we at iteach have cooked up a feast of gratitude-filled activities and crafts that all ages can enjoy in the classroom this Thanksgiving season.
Pre-K and Elementary Activities
For young students, creativity is very important; being hands-on with coloring, cutting, and gluing is not just necessary for developing motor skills- it is also fun!
These Thanksgiving crafts for your pre-k and elementary students will be a guaranteed hit.
Gratitude Quilt: Cut out 5×5 sheets of construction paper with the colors of your choice. Have students write or draw pictures of what they are thankful for, and staple them together to form your very own class “gratitude quilt”!
Thankfulness Alphabet: Print out an aplhabet template. Have students write something they are grateful for, corresponding to each letter. Laminate and have students take them home to use as a placemat during their Thanksgiving dinners!
Gratitude Garland: Cut out long strips of construction paper and have students write down what they are grateful for on them. Staple them together in a chain formation to create a garland, and hang it up wherever you would like.
Thankful Pie: Have students write what they are grateful for around a white paper plate. Then, with an orange circle a bit smaller than the plate, cut a triangle-shaped slice. Use a brad to fasten the two together, and decorate accordingly. Once finished, spin the circle around to reveal what they are grateful for.
Middle and High School Activities
For older students, inspiring a creative and grateful mind is just as important. Here are some fun activities that they can do as well!
Gratitude Journal: Encourage the students to brign a composition notebook to class and decorate it to their liking. Every day, for 10-15 minutes, have them journal about what they are grateful for that day. Play some relaxing music and provide prompts to get their creative writing flowing!
Gratitude Text Chain: Have the students pull out their phone and send a text to someone they are grateful for, explaining why they are grateful for them. Encourage the class to share who they messaged and why.
Gratitude Reel: Assign students to record short clips and/or photos of things that they are grateful for throughout the week. Some inspiration could include: family, friends, pets, sports, nature, or tasty meals. At the end of the week, have them stitch together the photos and/or videos to their favorite song. Encourage the students to share their videos with their friends and family!
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