By Mary Lou Rosien
As Thanksgiving approaches, we take inventory on the blessings in our lives and realize how many things we have to be thankful for. Helping our students to take an objective look at their own lives can prove a little more challenging. We have to think outside the box…put on our pilgrim (I mean ‘thinking’) hats and jump in.
1. Make a ‘Horn of Plenty’ or ‘Cornucopia’ out of paper. Make paper fruits and vegetables to fill it with. On each piece of food, have the students write something they are grateful for.
2. Create an Advent Crib for baby Jesus. Each week, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, have the students put in a piece of hay (yellow yarn works well) that represents something they are grateful for. By Christmas Eve the crib should be ready for Jesus’ arrival.
3. Encourage students to make a real inventory of stuff. Have them take a tour of their bedroom or the playroom in their home and list all the toys, clothes and games they own. After these lists are complete, talk about giving some of the excess to the underprivileged in your community.
4. Make a prayer bouquet for someone or for your church community. Cut out large paper flowers and write a prayer or sacrifice (each child is willing to make) on each flower. Place the flowers on a visible wall on your class or in your faith formation center.
5. Have your students write a letter of thanks to someone who has had an influence in their lives. This person could be a family member, a church member, a teacher or a friend. I recently did this by sending a letter to my favorite teacher from 30 years ago. He surprised me by writing back and I really treasure that response.
6. Organize the class to put together a food basket for a family who cannot afford Thanksgiving. Many church’s have a list of needy families or a food cupboard that would love to have extra donations of food near the holidays. A blanket drive, or coat drive is another idea for creating an atmosphere of gratitude and giving within your classroom community.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday. I give thanks for you, gentle reader, every day. Many blessings.
Mary Lou Rosien lives in North Chili, NY with her husband and seven children. She is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV Publishing).
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