November can be a tough month for teachers — there’s Election Day, Veteran’s Day and, of course, Thanksgiving breaking up your carefully planned units.
But holidays like Thanksgiving also offer opportunities to help students learn — not just about the history of the first Thanksgiving, but about thankfulness. Take a look at a few ways you can incorporate gratitude into your curriculum this November.
This may be the most basic method of talking about thankfulness, but letting students share what they’re grateful for reminds them to focus on the good (more on that in a bit). But you can give this kind of project a twist to make it more interesting:
Science teachers, did you know thankfulness is good for you? Classes can talk about the medical benefits of gratitude and discuss evidence they’ve seen that might support (or disprove) the hypothesis that thanksgiving makes you healthier. In fact, you can use the gratitude journaling exercise above to help experiment with the science of gratitude.
There are a wealth of books for younger readers related to Thanksgiving and thankfulness, like this one from Reading Rockets. And for older students, try quote analysis. For example, if you teach classical literature or history, you could have students write a reaction to a quote like this one from Cicero: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
Since Thanksgiving is usually associated with food, remind students to consider those who go without during the holiday season by organizing a food drive. Even if your school isn’t hosting a Thanksgiving food drive, you can hold a class drive. Though it’s not a traditional lesson, holding a charity drive teaches students mindfulness and gratitude, and encourages them to be good citizens.
Even though it interrupts our flow, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to teach students how to identify the good parts of their life and show gratitude for them. And ultimately, that’s something we can be thankful for.
How are you teaching gratitude in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch through Facebook or Twitter.