While families may be encountering difficult economical times, there are still many things for which to be thankful. Give your little students the gifts of observation and thankfulness with these simple experiences:
As Thanksgiving approaches, take just a little time each day to help children become aware of the abundance of the little miracles we receive each day. For example, when the children are outside, have them hop, jump, run, climb, etc. Then, as soon as they have settled down, help them reflect on the many subtle aspects of this experience. Lead a discussion with these questions:
What did you just do? (climb, run, etc.)
What did you use to do these things (legs, muscles, lungs, bones, arms, fingers, knees, elbows, heart)
Then lead the children in a short but joyful prayer:
Blessed are you, oh God, for giving us lungs,
muscles, bones, fingers and elbows! Amen.
If you do this regularly, children may want to add to the prayer. Welcome this and say your own prayer of thanksgiving for the grateful children!
Always keep in mind, of course, any limitations a child in your class may have before choosing your topics.
Here are further suggestions for experiences of observing and thanksgiving:
- Think as you breathe in and out a few times. What are we breathing in? What is air? Can you see it? Can you touch it? What are our lungs doing? What are our noses doing? Did you ever think about God making your nose?
- Listen to recorded music. God gave these musicians gifts so they can play, sing, write music. What about the instruments they are playing? What are these made of and how to they work? Who made the CD player? What are the parts made of and where did they come from? Who first figured out how to make a CD? What are we using to listen to it? What amazing things our ears are!
- Point out beauty (a houseplant, a bird on the wing, a piece of art, a smile). As this is an opportunity that presents itself frequently, begin by appreciating that you have eyes to see it, that colors are amazing, that shapes are pleasing, etc.
- Discover textures. Touch bark on different kinds of trees. Check out houseplants for smooth and fuzzy leaves, etc. How does the outside of an orange feel differently from an apple? How do the textures of sidewalks and carpeting compare? Touch satin, leather, burlap, wool. In addition to all these wonders, our fingertips are amazing as they tell us about these textures. And what about the sensitivity in cheeks and noses? Do you ever rub a favorite blanket against your cheek?
- Go outside on a windy day and watch how trees, bushes, fallen leaves, etc. react. Hold up a handkerchief and watch it fluttering, point out any flags or even laundry on a line, or other light fabrics in the wind. Why do we need wind? What does it do for the growth of plants, etc.?
- Become cloud watchers. Why do we need clouds?
- Explore picture books. Enjoy the stories, the different kinds of illustrations, and the colors. Recognize the talents of writers and illustrators, photographers, and librarians. Realize all the “ingredients” of a book and where they come from: paints, paper, inks, glue, printing equipment, etc.
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