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How You Can Inspire Thankfulness in Your Students!

This year I wanted to spur my kids on to be more thankful, so I did this…  I really didn’t do this just because it was Thanksgiving time but because I wanted them to appreciate what they have all the time.

First, I read my students a true story about kids living in Africa who were orphaned and lived in a garbage dump.  They ran after a garbage truck to get scraps of food for survival.  One of the kids living in the dump had their baby sister killed by wild jackals.  They had no one to help them–no parents or guardians of any sort.  I read this story from a newsletter I receive from a Christian missionary.  You can read more about him if you click the link above.  I of course had to leave the Christian stuff out because I work in  a public school, but the story still is impactful for kids to appreciate what we have.

Second, I showed my students a video about a man who was about to die because he had ALS.  His mission was to spread as much kindness as he could before he died.  I really made them think about how they wanted to be remembered.  Did they want to be remembered for how kind they were or for how badly they treated others.  This video is here.  The video really touched the kids hearts.

After we discussed both of these things, I told them they would be getting a little journal.  For the next four weeks the kids mission was to write down things they were thankful for each day and one kind thing that they did each day.  The students were really excited to get their journals, but I made them wait one class period before I gave them the journals.  I also informed parents before they received them so that parents knew what was expected of their children.

I bought these journals for 88 cents in a 3 pack at Wal-mart which makes them about 29 cents each.  The notebooks are about 3 x 4 inches. You can also get some at the Dollar Tree for…..you guessed it!….  a dollar, which makes them about 33 cents each.  In my opinion the ones at Wal-Mart are better looking because they are solid colored.

So here are the rules I gave the kids:

  • You must write three things you are thankful for each day.
  • The items you are thankful for cannot repeat.
  • For example, if today you say I am thankful for my momma, my daddy, and my dog, on another day you can’t say I’m thankful for my momma, my bicycle, and my brother because momma repeats.
  • If you lose it, you buy yourself another one.  I will not replace your journal.
  • Underneath the line you are to write one kind thing you did that day.
  • This can be anything kind.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant.  Their act of kindness can be just picking up a scrap of trash or giving someone a compliment.
  • The act of kindness cannot repeat on a different day either.

Some kids ask what happens if they miss a day.  I tell them not to worry but that they can go back and add something if they miss a day.  They must continue with their thankfulness project (notebook) even on weekends and vacations.  There will be a little incentive for them if they complete the project–namely Dollar Tree Christmas prizes.


I hope this idea inspires you to instill thankfulness in your own students!  Happy Thanksgiving season!

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