One of the ways we are celebrating the Thanksgiving season in the preschool is with a “Thankful Tree”. Throughout the week, students have been adding their thankful thoughts to the tree. It has been a wonderful process for me as a teacher to read the different ideas with the students as they add their own to the tree. There has been a wide range of responses from “I’m thankful for being healthy” or “I’m thankful for when my mommy takes care of me and picks me up” to “I’m thankful for onions.” But no matter how sincere, or silly the answer might seem, it opens the door to a conversation about what it means to be thankful for something. Are there people in the world who don’t have onions? What would it be like if you didn’t have any onions to eat? Trust me— to this 3 year old, it was a big deal!
Alongside giving thanks for what we have, Alison and the Birdies have been thinking about ways to give back to our community. After reading and discussing The Giving Tree, the group decided to coordinate a food drive to collect items for the local community. They worked hard during group time to brainstorm items that people might need. They also painted “The Giving Box” which is already filling up with canned goods that will be donated to OUR Center food pantry in Longmont. If you get a chance, stop by the preschool and drop off a donation!
These types of activities challenge children to step outside of themselves, to empathize with others, to take action and help. Even for our younger students who are still developing an understanding of their broader community, these activities lay the seeds for future conversations.
When I’m teaching, I like to think back and compare my own experience as a student to the experiences the students at Bixby are offered. As far as Thanksgiving school activities go, I remember making paper plate turkeys, pilgrim hats, and probably viewing A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. As fun as all that was, I wish I had had the opportunity as a student to explore a deeper meaning of the holiday as well. One of the reasons I love teaching at Bixby is that I have the time to stop and explore some of these aspects with my students. At Bixby, character is part of the curriculum. While my teachers could only offer surface-level holiday themed activities in between more tradition curricular subjects, I have the opportunity to think deeper and more critically with my students. I have to opportunity to teach character. And don’t worry, we’re still making lots of fun seasonal-themed crafts too!