Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teaching Kids To Be Thankful #1: Thanksgiving Thankful Garland

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun!

Also, the countdown to Christmas has begun. My kids are constantly saying, "Mommy, I want this for Christmas. I want THAT for Christmas. Look at this! I want it!" I want, I want, I want is all that I am hearing lately. I have tried, with limited success, over the last few years to teach my kids to be grateful for the toys that they have. We have talked about how lucky they are to have so many nice things when so many kids go without. We have had the kids go through their toys and donate the ones they don't want or ones that they think someone else would enjoy. We regularly sponsor kids through the YMCA or through our church for Christmas and pick out gifts for those children. Yet, they still don't seem to really understand what it means to be grateful for the things they have.

Like most things with my boys, this skill is going to have to be explicitly taught to them. Since Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks for things you have, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to discuss all of the things they have and come up with a list of things they are grateful for. Besides giving thanks only for the material things, I want them to understand that they also need to be grateful for the non-material.

Thanksgiving Thankful Garland:

I bought the thin foam leaves used for this garland in the dollar section at Target (go figure). It really turned out so cute! We hung it in the school room for a constant reminder of all of the things that we are thankful for.
  1. Brainstorm about the things for which you are thankful. Benjamin had a really hard time coming up with things that were not toys at first. So, I decided to write down things that I am grateful for as an example. I allowed him to write ONE sentence about his toys, but the rest had to be something different.
  2. Write the things that you are thankful for on the leaves. Since the space was small and neither Ben or Kate have the fine motor skills to write legibly quite yet, I decided to do the writing while they dictated to me. I then put their name on it so we remembered who was thankful for what. 
  3. Punch a hole in all of the leaves. Since they are thin foam, they are easier to punch holes in than regular paper. The hold puncher slices right through the foam, but it is sturdier than paper.
  4. String them together with yarn. I wrapped the "lacing" end with tape to make it easier to get through the hole. Make sure the leaves are all facing the same direction so that the writing is visible. Variation: use it for patterning by color. I thought about this after it was half-strung, so I just let it go.
  5. Hang it up! We have ours in the school room right now, but my original plan was to hang it in the kitchen so that we could discuss it during meal times. 

Ben attempting to punch holes.
Lacing the leaves onto the string.
Ben finds this very difficult, but was able to do a couple of them.
Closeup of the leaves before hanging.
The finished project!
My favorite: Ben was thankful for vacations.
I like it because it was completely his own idea.
This was super easy, inexpensive and is probably my favorite of all the activities that we have done so far this school year.

  • Fine motor skills: using one hand to hold and the other to punch holes; using one hand to hold while the other laces the string through; punching holes with the hole puncher (similar to using scissors).
  • Verbal skills: putting thoughts into words/sentences;
  • Differentiating between material/non-material things.

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