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November 19, 2014 Quick, Creative Ways for Students to Show Thankfulness By Lindsey Petlak
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Help! It’s the week before Thanksgiving break! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and teacher time is tighter than ever. Here’s a cornucopia of quick, creative ideas for ways your students can show they are thankful. Keep their creations at school, show them off at conferences, or send them home as a sweet token to express gratitude to their families. Regardless of how you use them, these ideas will make the last few days before Thanksgiving break both fun and meaningful.






    Kids love making crafts, and getting creative is a great way for students to think about and demonstrate their thankfulness in a fun, visual, hands-on way. Check out my top picks from Scholastic resources and Pinterest below. All are quick, simple, and require only a few materials that you most likely already have!


    Turkey Centerpiece or Place Setting:

    I LOVE the idea of writing things we’re thankful for on paint swatches and then assembling them to look like a turkey (with the swatches acting as the feathers). Scholastic has some awesome November craft ideas, and this paint chip turkey is one of my favorites. Go to the November Craft Collection or the November Month by Month site for more crafts that include full instructions and step-by-step photos!


    Corn Wreath:

    I found the most adorable corn wreath craft on the Scholastic Month by Month site! Students use a sponge or corncob to paint corn kernel pattern on white paper. Next, once the paper is dry, they cut out multiple corncob shapes from the painted paper. Then, using green construction paper, students cut U-shaped corn husks for each cob. Students write things they are thankful for on the right side of each husk. Glue the husks on top of each cob, then assemble in a circle to form the wreath shape. You may add a top center ribbon to make it look extra special!




    Hungry for More Thankful Craft Ideas?

    My “Show Thanks” Pinterest board has lots of good examples of variations on the thankful activities I’ve listed above, and even more. Take a peek to see colorful examples, and free downloads like leaves and other goodies. If you would like to contribute to the board by adding pins yourself, just leave a comment below with your email or email me personally to request access at: Below are a few of my FAVORITE Pinterest finds for more creative crafts which lend themselves well to students expressing their thankfulness.

    Thanksgiving Pies:

    Pumpkin pie is my favorite Thanksgiving treat, and now your kiddos can craft a pie of thanks. This idea uses a paper plate, a rust colored paper center circle, and a brad to create a moving thankful pie. Trim the edges of the paper plate to make it look fancy (if you want to). Cut circles out of orange/tan/rust colored paper, construction paper, or cardstock to match the diameter of the center of your paper plates. Cut a triangular wedge out of the paper circle. On the center circle of the PLATE, students write things they are thankful for around the circle like spokes on a wheel. Affix the paper circle to the plate with a brad through the center of both. You may want to write a title on the top of the center paper circle like “Thankful Pie,” “Slice of Thanks,” or something else creative that pops into you/your students’ minds! For full details, see my Pinterest board for link.


    Thankful Leaves Wreath, Garland, or Tree:

    Using paint chips (as suggested above) or simple construction paper, punch/cut out simple leaf patterns. Students write things they are thankful for on each leaf. Then, you assemble the leaves by adding them to ribbon for garland, a dollar store wreath form, or butcher paper tree in your classroom. You might also have students create thumbprint thankful trees like the one pictured on my board. For more details, see my previous post on paint swatch crafts.


    Clothespin Wreath:

    Similar to the leaf wreath described above, students are given a clothespin(s). On each clothespin, they write something they are thankful for. Collect clothespins and clip them onto a wire wreath form. 




    Give to Others

    The best way to show gratitude is to give to those in need. Inspired by this Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article, I just had to share the incredible story of pie making and giving in hopes to inspire you, too. Just like the featured project, perhaps you can create or collect food items to then donate to local shelters for those in need during this holiday season. Here’s a preview of the article that will leave you wanting to gather baking supplies, whip up some pies, and serve them at your local soup kitchen:

    "Early on a recent Saturday morning, 76 students, parents, and teachers of the Tuxedo Park School arrived with apples and peelers in hand. They were there to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Pie Project. The 57 pies they baked were donated to the Suffern Soup Kitchen in Suffern, New York, and to Grandmothers Acting as Parents in New Jersey, for Thanksgiving dinners."

    Terrific Turkey Topper

    Scholastic printables is offering the most adorable turkey topper for student work displays totally FREE. These can, of course, be used for anything, and they’re perfect for framing out student expressions of thanks. Below are a few ideas for written student pieces that could be used with this cute turkey topper to hang in your classroom, hallway bulletin board, or look great sent home as something special for student families:

    • Acrostic Thanks or Thankful poems

    • Other poems about gratitude

    • Thank you letters to family, friends, teachers, etc.

    • A story about characters expressing gratitude or serving others

    • Research essay on great philanthropists who have shown their gratitude by serving others.



    Scholastic Virtual Field Trip

    It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in classrooms across the country without the FABULOUS Scholastic virtual field trips to The Mayflower and Plymouth Plantation, accompanied by the cornucopia of coordinating resources from Scholastic to make your virtual tours amazingly multi-faceted learning experiences. My fellow Top Teaching Blogger, Genia Connell, is the queen of maximizing these resources. See her fantastic blog post for lesson ideas, to make your implementation of these resources a breeze. Trust me, you’ll be THANKFUL for her great ideas and Scholastic’s amazing materials!


    We all have SO MUCH to be thankful for, and it's important for our students to learn ways to express their gratitude. I hope this post helped link you up with a variety of quick and creative ways for you and your class to do so! Thanks for reading, and see you next week!



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