It’s nearly that wonderful time of year when families come together to share food and reflect on what matters most. As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s also an excellent opportunity to explore and instill important values in your child’s life.
At Sugar Mill Montessori, we believe that Thanksgiving lends itself to highlighting the importance of gratitude, grace, and courtesy. Check out some ideas below on how to demonstrate and incorporate these values into your holiday preparations and activities for a Montessori-inspired Thanksgiving.
Why is Gratitude Important?
In Montessori teachings, gratitude is a significant part of a child’s education. Young children, by their nature, primarily think and communicate about themselves. However, if they are encouraged to develop their capacity for gratitude and appreciation, it can help them to grow into kinder, more respectful individuals. While adults can easily grasp the importance of expressing gratitude, it can take time and patience for young children to fully learn this.
Practicing Gratitude as a Teaching Tool
You can help your child experience or understand gratitude in the following ways:
Developing a habit of vocalizing your appreciation of good things as they happen. For example, you could tell your child, “Thank you for helping me put away the silverware.”
Modeling appreciation of others. This could include discussing with your child the actions of others, such as observing the collaboration of two family members cleaning or cooking together: “Wasn’t it nice of your dad and sister to make the mashed potatoes?”
Inviting your child to help with daily tasks. Prior to Thanksgiving dinner, you could invite your child to help set up the table. The more they help, the more children are able to understand and appreciate the efforts of others.
By practicing respect and thoughtfulness towards others with and around your child, you can encourage the development of attitudes and acts of gratitude.
An excellent activity for children and the whole family during Thanksgiving is creating a gratitude jar. All you need is a container, pieces of paper, and a writing utensil. Each family member can contribute to the container by writing down (or drawing) what they are thankful for on the pieces of paper.
After collecting responses from everyone on Thanksgiving, or the days or weeks leading up to it, you can open it at dinner and read the notes aloud together. Not only is this a great way to teach gratitude and thankfulness, it can also help children develop early language, vocabulary, communication, reading, and writing skills.
I Am Thankful Turkey
Engage your child’s creativity and capacity for gratitude by making an “I Am Thankful” turkey. For this craft activity, you will need two small paper plates, brown paint, construction paper, glue, and pens.
Paint the two plates brown. Once they are dry, glue them together along the rim to serve as the head and body of the turkey. Use the construction paper to create and cut out the turkey’s beard, beak, and eyes, and glue them to the plates.
Cut out multiple long oval shapes from the construction paper to serve as the turkey’s feathers. On each feather, have your child write something that they are thankful for. Finally, glue the feathers to the bottom of the plate so they are fanned out.
Emphasizing Grace & Courtesy
Thanksgiving day offers endless opportunities for your child to practice grace and courtesy around others. No matter how you plan to celebrate the holiday this year, it can be a great time for your child to develop their manners and show respect to others.
At the dinner table, you can encourage your child to be polite when asking for someone to pass food and always be sure to say “thank you.” Instill patience by letting your child know that they should wait to eat until everyone is ready. During conversations, your child can also learn how to respectfully listen to others and wait their turn to speak up.
Gratitude, Grace, & Courtesy This Thanksgiving
It’s true for every Thanksgiving, but especially this year: there’s a lot to be thankful for. By modeling and encouraging strong values of gratitude, grace, and courtesy, you can help your child become a kinder and more thoughtful person with respect and appreciation for those around them.
Sugar Mill Montessori in Sugar Land, TX wishes you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Keep an eye on our blog for more Montessori-inspired ideas and activities year-round.