This month, I chose to focus on the idea of gratitude with 4th grade students. As we all know, the end of the year can be a hectic time for many students, staff and families. Whether it's school work, activities, travel, or preparing for the holidays, it can be difficult to slow down and take time to reflect on our lives. I felt that emphasizing the idea and theme of gratitude would allow our students to slow down, reflect and focus their energy on a positive project.
To start, all classes discussed the idea of gratitude and ways in which we can show how grateful we are for people and things:
We then discussed ways we can show gratitude and appreciation around the holidays. We chose to focus on a different population/project for each classroom. In Ms. Visocchi's room, we chose to write letters to military men and women who are serving abroad. In Mrs. Finn's room, we wrote letters to elderly residents at a nearby assisted living facility. In Mrs. Hayes' room, we chose to write letters to children who are currently hospitalized. In the latter two cases, we were able to work with people I already knew because I had worked previously at both the Assisted Living home and Children's Hospital Boston. The letters to the military personnel were sent through and organization called Operation Gratitude who works to send letters/packages to our troops.
Students wrote letters to their assigned population with the theme of gratitude in mind. In their letters, students introduced a bit about themselves (first name, age, grade, interests, activities, etc.) and asked the reader questions about themselves. Students also provided comforting words and positive messages to show the reader that they care and appreciate the individual receiving the letter. Students asked very insightful questions during the process and talked about people they know who are in the same situations (military, hospital, elderly relatives, etc.) With each class, students expressed joy in their completed letter and a hope that their letter may provide a bit of comfort to someone else during the holiday season. They showed gratitude for the process and loved the idea of showing kindness to someone else at the same time.
We're not sure if we'll hear back from any of our recipients, but if so, I will certainly provide an update. Wishing you and yours health and happiness as the holiday season begins and 2014 comes to an end.