Teaching kids to be thankful helps them to develop a positive attitude towards life and to appreciate the things they have. Take advantage of Thanksgiving to get youngsters involved in exploring their feelings about being thankful. Creating a bouquet of thanks to display in the classroom puts student work on display and adds a personal touch to your Thanksgiving activities.
Preparing the Basket
Prepare a gift basket to hold the Thanksgiving bouquet. You can find inexpensive baskets at the dollar store or in craft shops. Natural colors work well, but there are many decorative baskets with fall themes. Choose one that is large enough to hold a leaf of thanks for each child in your class.
Hot glue a square of floral foam to the bottom of the basket. Cut additional sections to fill in around the sides, if necessary.
Cover the floral foam with moss and glue in place. Although gluing isn’t necessary, it does prevent little hands from pulling and tugging and keeps the display in shape.
Print leaf patterns for your class. Using several patterns creates a well-rounded bouquet of thanks and allows students to choose one that appeals to them.
Fold a piece of construction paper and lay the leaf pattern on the fold. The object is to make a leaf-shaped card. Show children how to trace the pattern leaving a 2-inch section of the fold attached. For young children, you may need to trace the leaves for them to assure proper placement.
Model cutting out the leaves without severing the two sides and demonstrate opening the card.
Instruct students to write their name on the outside of the card and one thing they are thankful for on the inside. Older children can write detailed descriptions, but younger children may wish to write a word or two. You may consider a theme for the leaves of thanks, such as people they are thankful for, food they are thankful for or any other category that fits your curriculum. Adjust the directions to meet the needs of your class.
Assemble the Bouquet of Thanks
Collect the leaves when children have completed their inscriptions. Place a 4- to 6-inch section of a dowel in the fold of the card and glue in place. This allows student cards of thanks to be opened and read without removing them from the basket.
Insert the end of the dowel into the floral foam. Arrange leaf cards to make a bouquet of thanks to display in your classroom.
Encourage Creativity and Genuine Thanks
Encourage kids to think beyond the typical, “I am thankful for Mommy.” Although that makes a nice memory for Mom, it really doesn’t teach children about being thankful. Dig deeper and find out what things are meaningful in their lives and encourage them to give thanks for things that are important to them. If you do choose to use family as the basis of thanks, be sure to encourage children to state specific reasons for their thanks by adding “because” and allowing them to finish the phrase.