Sometimes it seems hard to accurately define gratitude. Sure, we can look it up in the dictionary and get a clear and perfunctory definition of the word. For each of us, I think it means something really different and in such degrees of complexity. Our intention this week is to offer an opportunity for reflection of our own personal elements of gratitude and to throw in some fun activities to do over the holiday weekend! Let’s dig in- to gratitude! And maybe mashed potatoes, too! I know I will.
We all have so much to be thankful and grateful for this year. I cannot emphasize enough how hard things have been the past year and a half of living through a pandemic. I know, you know, we all know. Some of us may even find it hard to FIND gratitude right now considering what we have experienced. Kids especially, my own and my students are up and down. Finding healthy outlets for our thoughts and feelings are always beneficial to our well- being. Some of my earlier posts focused on the power of the pen and writing. Let’s start there.
Gratitude through writing
Journaling is a tried and true therapeutic method. I love giving students (my own kids are a bit young still at 3 and 6 for this) a writing prompt and setting some quiet time for writing. My high school creative writing teacher used to play music from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack while we wrote and I loved thinking about how I was on a journey to Middle Earth and creativity, ha. You could always just try some nice piano music, too.
Consider prompting your children and students to ponder the following, What are you grateful for? And, Who are you grateful for? Expand the prompts to further explore the deeper reasons for why we’re grateful for the people and things in our lives and how does that resonate for us? Digging deep into our own gratitude reinforces all that we have to be thankful for right now.
It is always fun to brainstorm related words for holidays and themes. For a more low key ELA exploration, we have some free printable activities for your family to work on together through the weekend! Consider making it a competition for whoever finished first gets dibs the last slice of coveted pumpkin pie or the last bit of a favorite casserole!
Reverse bucket list
I recently came across the idea of a Reverse Bucket List and thought it was brilliant. When we think about the idea of a bucket list, it is always about what we WANT to do. But, what about the things that HAVE done. Take that idea and add gratitude to the mix. Boom, reverse bucket list.
I was talking to my son the other day about our former tradition of going down to the ocean during the Christmas season and I realized he didn’t remember doing it! He’s 6 and we haven’t been in 3 years, so that makes sense. However, it got me thinking about memories and how quickly we forget things. Kids, especially as they grow remember very little from when they were toddlers. I wanted to find some ways to preserve that and it hit me that the reverse bucket list was a great way to achieve this.
The reverse bucket list is taking all the good memories, achievements and fun and listing them. I like the idea of creating categories for this: Things We are Grateful For, Favorite Vacations, Biggest Challenges Overcome and so on. It allows families and individuals to explore gratitude, happiness and personal growth.
I would be remiss as a librarian if I did not include some amazing selections to explore gratitude through literature. Some further reading for your families and classrooms:
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard
Maillard is an enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation and a law professor at Syracuse University. He and his family live in Manhattan and he is a regular contributing writer to The New York Times. This is a beautiful book that illustrates (through the beautiful imagery of Caldecott Honor Winner Juana Martinez-Neal) the connection of food and culture. It is relatable and informative and my family loves reading it each year. For a holiday that is centered around food, this is a great title to read and reflect on what gratitude, family and the food we share all represent as a whole.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
This is one of my favorite books that I have come across in recent years for children. It is amazingly beautiful in illustrations (by Frane Lessac) and in message. I think that this book gives readers a deep comprehension of gratitude in a relatable and informative manner. Sorell’s author notes on the book begins by saying, “Cherokee culture places a strong emphasis on expressing gratitude to unelanvhi (oo-NEH-la-nuh-hee), literally “the one who provides all,” or God.” When we think about what Thanksgiving means to us and the gathering of family, this title beautifully frames the nature of simple gratitude family provides.
How To Catch a Turkey by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton
This one is perhaps less about gratitude (though the author team ensures us that “No turkeys were harmed in the making of this book” so we can be grateful for that, haha!) and more about having some laughs. Wallace and Elkerton are a hilarious team who have penned a whole “How to Catch” series ranging from unicorns, monsters and even the Easter Bunny. Hint: If you google the title of the books, there are some great read- alouds of the titles to be found on YouTube.
Dig into math
So we can have a well- rounded weekend of learning, we can’t leave out our math activities! Knowing that our MTT family has children of all ages, we have some math activities for lots of learner levels from simple word problems to division and fractions. Let’s get cracking, mathematicians!
Resources for fall math
- Addition Word Problems 1
- Addition Word Problems 2
- Multiplication Word Problems 1
- Multiplication Word Problems 2
- Subtraction Word Problems 1
- Subtraction Word Problems 2
- Division Word Problems 1
- Division Word Problems 2
- Pumpkin Pie Fractions Matching Game
We hope you and your families have a happy and healthy holiday season. Enjoy your family time, leftovers, Christmas movies and all the traditions that you hold dear. We’ll see you next week in time for a whole new month and lots of fresh ideas for your family to enjoy together. Happy Thanksgiving, MTT Family!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.