Teaching Students Gratitude

Howdy from Barbara at The Corner on Character. I’m so excited to be visiting The Teacher’s Treasure Chest today while Ashley’s away. I’ve tried to put myself in her shoes and figure out what it’s like to be a Navy Wife, but having never experienced what she must go through, I’m having a tough time. Nevertheless, I have incredible empathy and gratitude for our military heroes, and that includes the extended families, husbands and/or wives, and children who serve right alongside of them. I wanted to share this post about teaching students gratitude and how to show kindness. 

Books that Teach Gratitude for Students

teaching students gratitude
Do you know about the book Sometimes We Were Brave by Pat Brisson? Jerome, the cutie patootie on the front cover, describes what it’s like when his Navy mom is away on active duty, leaving him and his dog Duffy behind: Sometimes they have bad days, sometimes they get surprises, sometimes they have accidents, sometimes they get treats, sometimes they are afraid. Real talk! Read this book aloud to elevate empathy. Find out who has experience with the military. Maybe their grandpa, uncle, dad — or mom? — has been deployed. Where did they serve? And what was that experience like? Were they able to be in touch with their loved one while he/she was away? How?

Activities That Teach Gratitude

We work hard to help our students understand (as best we can) what it’s like to serve to keep us safe and free. Last year, we supported our troops three times; once through Operation Gratitude when we sent 340 pounds of our Halloween Candy overseas, the second time at Thanksgiving when we sent Santas for Our Soldiers, and then, in May, when we did a Pamper Our Troops collection. We are told time and time again that, while they love getting our boxes filled with treats, what our soldiers and sailors like best are the cards, letters, and drawings that we send them. 
Looking for a rewarding service-learning project this year? Research who the military personnel in your school family are. Turn it into a geography lesson and find the spots on the map where they’re located. Figure out the distance between your school and where they are, then set a goal to run that many miles during recess or p.e. in their honor. Study the climate so you can do a compare and contrast to what your region experiences. What might some of the challenges be? For example, we’ve been told that the dessert sands can present a problem. Have them speculate why. See if they can brainstorm things that they could send that would help make the soldiers’ lives easier. Find out what they’re eating while they’re away. Ask your students how long they would be willing to go without eating their favorite foods.
teaching students about gratitude
Then write on! Your students’ precious pictures and their wonderful words will be the sweetest surprise and the greatest gift!
teaching students about gratitude
If you do send some basic-need items, you can stuff them into a large flat-rate box for $13.50; our Rotary helps defray the cost of postage each year. Don’t forget that you’ll have to complete a customs form, so you can get some parent volunteers to help you get that done ahead of time. It takes a little planning and preparation, but it’s totally worth it to say thanks to our servicemen and women and give back just a wee bit. 
Thank you, Ashley!

1 thought on “Teaching Students Gratitude”

  1. Thanks Barbara, and Ashley, for inspiring our students to value kindness and service.

    At a time when so many kids have a tendency to be "me-centered," this type of activity helps them to focus on others and can easily inspire an "attitude of gratitude."

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

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