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Thankful Things Writing Activity

Raise your hand if you could live the rest of your life without hearing one more essay about your students being thankful for their family and toys!  Peeps, my hand is WAY up! Now, as sweet and endearing as those writings may be, after 18 years of teaching I'm about over them. (Does that sound mean?) In my own school I see the concept starting in Pre-K with cute turkeys and scribbly handwriting telling the world they're thankful for their Famalee or some such cuteness. This year, I did the obligatory turkey project with the same ol' same ol' thankful things, but as I was doing it, it occurred to me that it was time to kick it up a notch. I decided to stretch their little imaginations a bit and ask them to think of ways they're thankful for some unusual things that are totally worth being thankful for, but never make it into one darn Thanksgiving project!

I started by reading one of my favorite seasonal books - We Gather Together, Now Please Get Lost by Diane DeGroat. In the book Gilbert learns to be thankful for Phillip even though Phillip is not exactly one of his favorite people geese. That inspired this writing project. I listed some everyday items on little slips of paper and put them in a cup. Then I had each student pull a slip from the cup and announce what they had. Here are some of the choices...you can imagine the puzzled looks on their seven year-old faces when they pulled "band-aid" out of a cup that was supposed to hold a cool topic for a Thanksgiving project! (Don't click yet, but there is a link at the end for a free copy of everything you'll need to do this lesson if you'd like)

After sufficient giggle time passed, I started with a think-aloud on my topic. I chose baby wipes. I talked about how I'm thankful that they make cleaning the classroom easier, that they smell nice and how some of them even kill germs! That got the ball rolling. I gave them a few minutes to talk things over with their partner and then asked for some volunteers to share. It was a little slow going, but eventually, the ideas were flying! We did a lot of talking and sharing ideas before I gave them this frame to help them organize their ideas. <--This may or may not be how you teach writing. Personally, I rarely use a frame like this, but it was very helpful with this concept which was a bit more abstract. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that. Do you all use frames like this often? It actually worked out pretty well.

After they wrote, I edited with them and they published it on this little turkey peek-over pattern I've had in my files for at least a hundred years.

They grumbled a bit at the beginning, but their finished products were so incredible! This really helped them look at things in a whole new light. The ideas they came up with were things I hadn't even thought of. Here are some more examples:






If this looks like something you'd like to try, click {HERE} to get a free copy of the lesson steps, word cards and pre-writing frame. I put it together pretty quickly, so if you spot any mistakes, let me know. Sorry I can't share the peek-over turkey, I don't have the rights for that. Boo, Hiss Copyright Police!!  



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29 comments:

  1. You are so incredibly creative! Love it!

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  2. This is so awesome! ALL of us should take time to be thankful for all of the tiny little things that make our lives more comfortable and pleasant. I am thankful for the tiny, squeaky tennis balls that make my little dog's eyes light up whenever I get her a new one!
    I'm only a student teacher but I'm starting a file of future material I can use... and I'm totally saving this one! Thanks!

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  3. Love this! Definitely doing this next week when I don't have the whole week off ;) Thank You!

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  4. I LOVE this idea! We will be doing it next week. (Don't feel bad we only have a 2 day week!) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love Diane de Groat's stories. I call them the Gilbert books! He is such a normal 2nd grader that all my kids can relate to. Thanks for making this unit. I will put it right to work in my classroom.

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  6. I absolutely love it! I think my advanced first graders might be able to try this too!

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  7. I love this so much! Don't think my crew could do it yet, but it is a great idea :)

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  8. Fantastic!!! Yep ... this is a keeper! It really helps to stretch the kids' thinking (and mine too).

    Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I love this twist on the old boring thankful writing project. Thank you!
    2B Honey Bunch

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  10. Absolutely darling. I can't wait to do it with my 1/2 combo. Thank you for sharing all of your creative ideas! I truly appreciate it.

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  11. Oh I really like this idea! I think I'll try it too and see how it turns out with first and second grades! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

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  12. I'm so thankful for your new spin on thankfulness! And thanks for sharing!!!!

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  13. This is great! It really makes you stop and think! I can't wait to try it this week!!!

    Randi
    Bloggers welcome @ www.teachitwithclass.blogpsot.com

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  14. I like the coffee one...thankful for coffee because their teacher drinks it hehehehe :)

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

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  15. love this idea! thanks!

    (found this on Pinterest)

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  16. This is a fantastic idea. I work with multiple 2nd grade classes. They had so much fun during my ELA push in time :)
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

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  17. Love, love, love it!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  18. This is such a neat way to do a thankful letter!!! They don't realize all the things they have, that they wouldn't typically be thankful for! I looooooooove this!!!!!!

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  19. Thank you I follow all three now.

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  20. Thank you. It made me stop and think about all the things to be thankful for!

    Joyce

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  21. Hi Denise:
    I like this so much, we are doing it AFTER we return from break--with sixth graders! AND your writing frame is PERFECT for my EL group. All of those capital letters are meant to convey my excitement--and gratitude--about everything I got from this post! Thanks for sharing!

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have a pretty bright bunch of first graders and I did this with them today! They had some wonderful thoughts and they turned out really good.
    Thank you for reminding us to be thankful for all of the little things in life. :)

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  23. I love this!! I will definitely be doing it with my second graders. Thank you!

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  24. Oh my gosh! What a super fun way to make kids think outside of the box. I love all of your ideas! Thanks so much!!!!

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  25. I would like to modify to sentence frames to adapt this for first grade. Still thinking about how to do that, or whether it's just more of a second grade type of writing project, but I love the idea. I think I might put a few more ideas in the cup and let them pull out two so they have some choice in what they write about. Thanks for sharing this fantastic idea!

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