At Sokikom, we love Thanksgiving! It’s a wonderful time of year full of family, friends, food, and gratitude. Days leading up to the Thanksgiving Break we take the time to make handprint turkeys, teach our students the history of the Mayflower and encourage them to be thankful. But what happens when Thanksgiving ends? Can we, as teachers, place less emphasis on teaching gratitude? What would happen if we place as much emphasis on gratitude throughout the year as we do the week leading up to Thanksgiving? Would we notice a difference in our class, our school, our community?
Gratitude is not only a nice thing to do, but it impacts each of us physically and mentally. In fact, according to science grateful people have stronger immune systems, act with more compassion, and experience less loneliness. Because of the profound impact gratitude has on each of us, we’ve put together a few suggestions on how to encourage thankful students.
Morning Meeting Gratitude Challenge
If we started off each day practicing gratitude how would our day change? With the Morning Meeting Gratitude Challenge, you are encouraged to start off each day by having your students share what they are grateful for. Try it out every day for a week and see if you notice a change in your students or even yourself. Are you noticing your students acting kinder to each other? Do you notice that you have more patience? Is there a greater sense of collaboration in your classroom?
If you don’t have time for the Morning Meeting Gratitude Challenge and want to incorporate gratitude into your writing lesson, have your students practice journaling. If your students spend 5-10 minutes each day journaling what they’re thankful for do you think you would notice a difference? Would your students have stronger writing skills? Would you hear please and thank you more often in the classroom? Try it out and let us know what differences you see in your students!
Play a Gratitude Game
If you’re looking for a fun way to challenge your students, have them play a Gratitude Game. Not only will your students be able to practice teamwork but they will also be able to express themselves creatively. The students who present to the class will have the added benefit of improving their public speaking skills.
Looking for more gratitude inspiration? Check out Dr. Kerry Howells Gratitude in Education talk.