As a new month ushers in a crisp, colorful tapestry of autumn leaves, it's the perfect time to incorporate lessons on gratitude into your middle school classroom. I try to practice gratitude all year, but November seems to be the time when I feel especially grateful. I’m sharing my favorite ELA activity ideas that focus on gratitude in hopes it will make your planning a little easier. Here are my top picks for this month!
Try a thankful jar in your classroom to promote gratitude. I begin at the start of the month and continue throughout November. Sometimes I extend our thankful jar right into December! It’s a simple concept and easy to incorporate. All you need is an empty jar or container and strips of colored paper.
As part of your entry to class or bell ringer time, have students write down something specific they are grateful for on the strip of paper and put it in the container. Once a week during the month or really whenever you want, choose thankful strips and read them aloud to the class. You could also have students choose strips from the jar to share. Staple the strips to form a chain each time you finish reading them and decorate your class! Looking for a virtual gratitude jar? Grab it and other gratitude activities in this November Gratitude resource.
My students really enjoy working on the Grateful Cube project. It’s a creative way for them to express their gratitude guided by a list of questions. I assign the grateful cube using the interactive cube creator from Read Write Think, which allows my students to choose six questions from a list I provide, and then they type six questions and their responses into the generator. You’ll want students to draft their responses to the questions ahead of time.*Hint - Students can simply copy and paste the questions into the generator.
Once finished, they print out the personalized cube pattern and assemble it. Students decorate their cube with crayons, colored markers or pencils.
If you don’t want to use technology, simply print out a pre-designed cube pattern, make copies for your class, and let them write out the questions and personal responses before decorating.
Where is a place you are grateful for and why?
What opportunity or chance are you grateful for?
Who is a person you are grateful for and why?
What material possession are you grateful for?
How can you show gratitude?
What happened this year that you are grateful for?
What is a lesson or something you learned from that you are grateful for?
What is something you are looking forward to in the future?
Who is someone that has been grateful for your help?
What abilities or talents are you grateful for?
What have others done in your life for which you are grateful?
Thanksgiving Read Aloud
Picture books aren’t just for elementary. Middle school kiddos enjoy a good read aloud, too! If you’re trying to incorporate more cultural representation in literature in your classroom, I love this new picture book by Kevin Noble Maillard entitled, Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story.
The book is illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal and depicts an intergenerational group of Native American family members and friends as they make fry bread together. Fry bread is a food staple common to many Native American homes.
After reading the story to my students, we discuss the author’s language, and then they create their own version of the mentor text. Instead of fry bread, I ask students to brainstorm a quick list of foods they associate with a family tradition or something special in their life. We share some of our favorites, and then students choose one food to use for inspiration.
November Gratitude Activities Resource
I've created a collection of fun, seasonal activities to keep my students engaged and promote gratitude. This November Gratitude ELA Activities resource includes 13 tasks that can be used as bell ringers or morning work, a gratitude notebook, in centers or stations, for sub plans, or exit tickets. Each task encourages students to practice gratitude not only during the season but all year long.
A class favorite is the virtual gratitude jar. Students type what they are grateful for and drag and drop the colored text strips into the jar! Print the virtual jars and use them for a bulletin board or classroom display! A "thankful" acrostic poem is another engaging assignment. Try out the poem activity in your classroom for free!
Which of these November gratitude activities is your favorite? Have you tried any of them in your classroom? Be sure to share this post with your teacher friends who will be grateful for all the ideas!