My darling (most moments!) fourth grade students have grown in the art of being thankful–and in expressing that thankfulness, during two projects we have done lately for our English class. it is a priceless joy to see them realize more about how blessed they are (and these are kids in a school that gets 100% free lunches!).
First, after an overview of how blessed we are in America and, no matter how rough my students and I may think our lives have been, I explained to my students that we have not experienced the horrors and poverty experienced by at least some of the children rescued by Dr. Ron and Mrs. Anna Sherman at La Casa Hogar Del Corazon De Rey ( http://www.whitestone.ws/index.html ).
I have been careful to not share the worst of the scenarios, but my students have truly started to understand that, as native Americans, they are considered wealthy by much of the world.
My students wrote letters introducing themselves and telling what they enjoy, and also asking questions about what the children like. My sweeties drew pictures, and some even created art about the flag of Mexico to honor the kids. Some even wanted to buy canned goods and such to send them. (I explained to them that they could give online, for it would cost much more to mail things than to send the money for the directors to buy products themselves. My kids were shocked that we have to pay to mail things. However, I told them, we need to be thankful that American postage is the most economical in the world!)
The second project the students did to promote and deepen thankfulness was to write 100 statements starting with, “I am thankful for….” and they could part whatever and whomever they wanted at the end of those sentences. Most of them took off and truly enjoyed the project. I had them leave a space between each statement, so they could cut them into strips (after re-reading the entire list!) and put them into a “Thankfulness Time Capsule” bottle that I gave them, along with stickers with which to decorate it. I suggested that, especially if things seem to be going wrong, that they take some of those strips of things they are thankful for and re-read them; weeks, months, even years later. I shared with them that my husband and I do the same! (That reminds me; I have several more things to add to our big jar!)
A third project to enhance our understanding and practice of being thankful is to write a thank-you letter to the professor who invited our fourth grade class to a “Teaching and Learning Fair” at a nearby university, where my students were thrilled to participate in seven stations of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and brought back unique treasures they had crafted themselves in the learning process. This is also a second reinforcement of them learning to write a proper letter, of which I am thankful.
I am so thankful the LORD has sent me to this school to be part of these precious little ones’ lives, and to help shape them for the future. Blessed be the LORD, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever!