Don’t Just Say “Thank You” – A Guide For Teaching Gratitude in the Classroom

Don't Just Say "Thank You"

A Guide For Teaching Gratitude In The Elementary Classroom
Just a few days ago, little ghosts and goblins were knocking on doors, yelling trick or treat, and being reminded to say thank you before running to the next house. Teaching a child to say thank you is good manners. There isn’t a parent or grandparent among us who hasn’t uttered some form of “what do you say?”, to a child who has been given a gift or compliment.

Saying “thank you” is a social skill all young children need to learn, but what about gratitude? 

As Halloween decorations come down and classrooms are decked out with

Thanksgiving décor, teachers are thinking about and  planning lessons for the month of November.

Fairly recently, many aspects of the  First Thanksgiving which have been traditionally taught in American schools have become controversial. This year, why not focus on gratitude instead?

WHAT IS GRATITUDE? To begin, what exactly is gratitude? There are many definitions of gratitude. Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion. Others look at it as more of a mood. Still, some folks believe gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits. These can all be correct. I like this explanation from Common Sense Media

Gratitude is being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen in your life and taking the time to express appreciation and return kindness”. 

BENEFITS OF EMBRACING GRATITUDE There are a large number of benefits associated with gratitude, many scientifically proven. Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset.

 

Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.

Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality and energy levels.

Being thankful for your blessings can enhance emotional wellness, resiliency and ability to deal better in tough situations.

Kids who practice gratitude are often more confident and optimistic children.

CULTIVATE GRATITUDE One of the most powerful ways to teach gratitude is by example. Creating a “grateful environment” at school can help kids notice and recognize good things. By making a concerted effort to embrace and express gratitude you become a compelling role model for your students.

Not only will your students benefit from an attitude of gratitude classroom, but you will too.

Knowing how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your happiness. There are things to be grateful for, even on the difficult days.

In fact, it’s even more impactful when you discover little rays of light in the darkest times. Oprah was one of the very first people to talk about the power of gratitude and how giving thanks even for little things, every day can transform lives.

Gratitude is often viewed as a practice or something you perform regularly.

As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.

Luckily there are many easy ways to teach and model it for your kids.

Here are just a few to get you started.

• Start a gratitude tree and paper leaves with things you are grateful for every day

• Go on a gratitude walk. Take your kids on a walk and have them notice and write or draw things to be grateful for. If you leave in a place where seasons change – do this once each season!

• Have a scavenger hunt! Take your kids on a walk and have them notice and write or draw things that make them feel happy. If you leave in a place where seasons change – do this once each season!

• Write Thank You Notes to helpful school personnel, community helpers or Veterans!

• Write Thank You Notes to helpful school personnel, community helpers or Veterans!

• Make a gratitude jar! You can use a real jar and slips of paper or get a free Mason jar printable online. Another idea is to make a giant Mason jar on a bulletin board or wall and fill it with sticky notes of gratitude all year.

Whichever activities you decide to do with your kids remember gratitude needs to be practiced regularly – once your children are familiar and comfortable with finding gratitude you might want to make Gratitude Journals to be used as part of your daily classroom routine. 

To get a FREE GRATITUDE SCAVENGER HUNT fill out the form below. You will receive an email which will give you instant access to my growing resource library of freebies!

4 Reasons to Love February

4 Reasons To Love February

 

Hi There Teacher Friends!

Is it cold and snowy where you live? It is for me. We had 24 inches of snow a few days ago. I’m not a winter kind of girl.

I hate being cold. I don’t like driving in wintry conditions. I don’t even like walking in it. For real, every year that  is me!

With that being said, I used to love snow days when I was still teaching.

Something about the unexpectedness was like a surprise gift. Not like a weekend or a scheduled day off, where you feel obligated to plan chores and errands.

Snow days were meant for fluffy slippers and making soup! Now that I am not teaching, snow days have few redeeming qualities for me.  Snow aside, I do love February!

Despite the snow and cold, February is full of reasons to love, not the least of which is Valentine’s Day.

The number one reason though, has got to be it is the shortest month of the year – which of course means less days until pay day!

Reason number two – weather wise, for us warm weather lovers, February is one month closer to Spring.

Now let’s talk holidays and special days for Reason Number Three! Groundhog Day, Presidents Day, the afore mentioned Valentine’s Day, Superbowl Sunday, Chinese New Year, sometimes Mardi Gras and of course it is Black History and Dental Health Month. 

 

So many holidays keep a teacher busy!

One year I missed Valentine’s Day.

We had snow days, then a weekend then more snow days and by the time we got back to school it was President’s Day.

This year Distance Learning is in place for bad weather so many teachers no longer get the little reprieve a snow or ice day would provide.

If February has you feeling a bit frazzled and caught up in a whirlwind of planning  holiday to holiday I have some products that might be just what you need.

Reason Number Four To Love February – “Large Shapes For Little Fingers Product Line” These wonderful print and go activities are perfect for school or distance learning send home packets for the younger ones.

 

Click on the pictures above to preview or purchase.

Each product provides fine motor practice with a variety of levels of crowns, banners, and booklets to color, cut and paste and some have color by number.

The shapes are large so younger children and special needs students can have success with a fun craft project.

The completed craft becomes a language prompt for recalling and talking about past events.

Still not convinced Little Fingers is right for your students? Why not try a sample freebie? Just fill out the form below and you will find it in my FREE Resource Library along with other useful freebies!

 

 

Self-Care For Teachers When There Is No Time

Self-Care For Teachers

2020 is the year the world turned upside down. Probably more-so for teachers than any other profession. In a matter of weeks, teachers were asked to work from home with an unfamiliar set of tools with which to perform a job that differed significantly from the one they trained for.

Even during the best of times teaching is a high stress profession.

Under today’s unprecedented conditions, its no wonder not only teachers but society in general is experiencing anxiety.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic self-care had already become a media buzz word and despite the hype, research supported real physical and emotional benefits.

Information on the advantages of self care, and tons of recommendations, routines, and how-to’s are widely available.

Then why aren’t more teachers following this advice?

Mini Self-Care Quiz

Question: Do you have a self-care routine?

 

  1. Yes of course, doesn’t everybody?
  2. Umm kinda
  3. Aint nobody got time for that
If you chose B or C, you are not alone! Limited time is the number one reason cited for not employing a self care routine.

 

 

In addition to lack of time, many people equate self care with selfishness and self indulgence.

But like the proverbial oxygen masks on planes, you cant help others without first helping yourself.

In order to be that balanced, consistent loving person in the lives of others, you have to first take care of yourself.

Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Self care doesn’t have to be time consuming or guilt inducing to produce huge results.

I am about to show you a few easy ways to incorporate self care into your hectic daily life!

Start Here: Self-Care Mini’s

Forget the complicated checklists and routine builders (at least for now) associated with self-care practices. Instead take out a piece of paper or open a new document. Yes, I mean right now! If you wait until later, it won’t happen. (You can also print out the worksheets in the Free Starter Kit below)  

Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin making a list of as many things you can think of that make you happy and bring you joy or pleasure.

When the timer rings, you are done for now, or you can continue.

 

 

On another piece of paper make three columns and label them 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes.

Put items from your list in each column with the time they take to do. Some items like reading, can go in all three columns.

Each day try to fit in a total of an hour of activities spread throughout the day. It’s the same concept as exercise, an hour of sustained activity may be ideal, but an hour broken up throughout the day is better than none – and you may find you can fit in even more!

Even if you only have time for one ten-minute block at the start, that is okay. Don’t stress about it, do what you can, but make it a priority to do at least one!

Combine  Activities

Download some podcasts. There are thousands of them on every subject imaginable.

Pick some in your field, your hobby, humor, stories, or something brand new. Then listen while walking the dog, commuting, or cleaning the bathroom.

Share Activities

Self-care and “me time” are not the same. Self-care can be shared with your children, partner, or friend. Now is a wonderful time to introduce kids to self-care.

Celebrate a made up holiday, plant a garden, or have movie night complete with buttery popcorn!

 

Adult coloring has become popular as a self-care activity. It is fun and relaxing and an excellent activity to share with kids of any age (your own or students!).
I have created a FREE SELF-CARE STARTER KIT for you, which includes your self-care planning worksheets, beautiful mandala coloring cards with and without positive sayings and 4 mandala posters.
To get this awesome kit fill out the form below. You will receive an email which will give you instant access to my growing resource library of freebies!

3 Insanely Easy Dinners Teachers Need to Try Now!

Try These 3 Insanely Easy Dinners Tonight!

Teachers work hard, especially at the beginning of the school year and especially now.

Those first few weeks back are always chaotic and currently there is the added stress and uncertainty brought about by the Corona Virus.

No matter if you are teaching in person or remotely, at the end of a long day, someone is bound to ask “What’s for dinner?”

What’s for dinner?

Props to the more organized among us with meals planned, but you still have to cook and clean up. Those of us with less forethought will open and close the fridge a few times before deciding on grilled cheese and tomato soup.

No judgement – I have been in both those kitchens at one time or another.

Where is Nana when you need her?

 

Hello!

Have we met?

I’m Nana!

Although I can’t come to your house and cook, and I don’t live in Florida, I can Help.

But first, I have two important things to tell you.

 

Two Important Things

 

  1. These are NOT recipes, they are more like magic formulas. They are very flexible and there is little to no measuring and little to no clean up.
  1. You need a slow cooker. Yes, I have heard of Instant Pots, I even have one and love it, but not for these dinners. You must use a tried and true old fashioned slow cooker, also known as a crock pot.

Nana’s Almost Famous Chicken

Ingredients

4 – 8 chicken breasts (depending on the size of your family and the size of your crockpot.

1 – 2 Packages of Good Seasonings Italian Dressing Mix , Zesty Italian Dressing Mix or Garlic and Herb Dressing Mix

Paprika

1. Make small loose balls from aluminum foil approximately 1”. Layer on bottom of slow cooker.
2. Coat both sides of chicken breasts with dry salad dressing mix and paprika.
3. Lay on top of aluminum foil balls. You can put a few pieces on top of the others but don’t pack tight.
4. Turn on slow cooker and let cook 6-8 hours.
5. Carefully remove cooked chicken from slow cooker. It usually begins to fall apart.
6. Remove chicken from bones.

Best Barbeque Chicken

Ingredients

4 – 8  skinless boneless chicken breasts (depending on the size of your family and the size of your crockpot.

1 – 2 Bottles of good barbeque sauce like Sweet Baby Ray’s or Jack Daniels.

¼ – ½ cup brown sugar

1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

1. Mix together barbecue sauce, brown sugar and vinegar.
2. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker
3. Pour sauce mixture over chicken breasts
4. Cook 5-8 hours
5. Shred chicken breasts. The sauce may look watery but the shredded chicken will absorb it.
Serve over rice or on buns.

Beefy Stewish

Ingredients

2 – 4 lbs. beef stew cubes

Garlic powder

Ketchup

Bag of baby carrots

Bag of tiny potatos (or cut large potatoes into quarters.

  1. Sprinkle meat with garlic powder. Pour ketchup over meat until covered. (This can be done the night before)
  2. Put meat and vegetables in a bowl. Add a little more ketchup and mix.
  3. Put in slow cooker and cook 6-8 hours.

Optional –

Add a jar of Au juis, brown or beef gravy during the last half hour.

If you try these non-recipes, or have some of your own, let me know in the comments below. 

First Day of School Photos – What Will Yours Look Like

First Day of School 2020

What Will Your Photos Look Like?

First day of school photos are legendary. There are 100’s of ideas online to inspire teachers and parents to create adorable photo shoots. From quick and easy printable signs to elaborate photo booths, Pinterest usually has you covered.

 BACK TO SCHOOL 2020

 

But this year school openings are different, so what will first day of school photos look like?

 

Pondering this question, brought back memories of my own kids first days of school many years ago.

 

                                                                                                  BACK TO SCHOOL 1992

I grabbed a scrapbook (don’t laugh it was the 90’s! ) from the shelf, and flipped to my son’s kindergarten photos, his toothless grin staring back at me from the over-decorated pages.

I vividly recalled taking those first day of school pictures in front of our fireplace, on our front steps and boarding the bus so (by request), I was sure to get a picture of his new backpack!

As a teacher-mom, there was little time for(my) tears as I raced to drop my 2 year old at the babysitters and get to work. It was the first day of school for me too. 

At the end of the day, we all returned home tired and sweaty and I just couldn’t face cooking.

 

So the Chinese Restaurant it was!

We enjoyed a leisurely and delicious dinner with no prep and no cleanup! We talked  day and fortune cookies ended the meal. One last photo of the whole stuffed and happy family in front of the restaurant and it was home to bed for the kids,

 

 FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL 1992

That is how “First Day of School fireplace, porch and backpack photos followed by Chinese Restaurant dinner” became a tradition in our family  and continued for both my children for the next 15 years.

 

                                                                                           FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL 2020

This year, my granddaughter enters kindergarten. My  daughter looked forward to continuing our photo traditions with her daughter.

But, my granddaughter  will be starting school remotely. There will be no new backpack on the bus photo and no Chinese restaurant dinner for her this year.

 

School will be different in 2020 and so will our first day of school traditions and photos! My girls are excited to add some new variations to Back to School. Perhaps you will try them too!

TRY THIS!

THE BACKPACK FAIRY

Have you heard of the backpack fairy? I hadn’t  until recently. She is a magical being, a distant cousin to the tooth fairy, who comes on School Year’s Eve and leaves special crayons or markers, a treat and maybe a new book in your child’s new backpack! I will  she will definitely visit my granddaughter!

Add a bit of glitter and you will have the makings of great memories and photos!

TRY THIS!

 

DINNER

Although they can’t go to the Chinese Restaurant, deliver works!

TRY THIS!

MEMORY BOOKS

 

After dinner they will begin another new tradition – completing the first pages in my “A Year of Memories and Monthly All About Me Pages”.

 

This is an ongoing project with monthly pages for recording how she writes her name, how she goes to school, a favorite book, something she is proud of and something she learned.

 

 

 

There are also over 40 pages for holidays and special days. The pages are designed so students can attach photos, write and or draw picture.

 

The pages are easy to complete and can be used for in person or distance learning by parents or teachers.

 

By the last day of school, they will have a treasured keepsake.

 

If you would like to try this new approach to Memory Books you can get a copy from my TpT  Store by clicking the picture below.


You can also try a free sample if you would like! Click below.

So what will your First Day of School Photos look like?  Will your children be sporting a brand new mask along with their new backpack? Or will all or part of their learning be from home? Whatever it is, remember we are making history and making memories so be sure to snap some photos to document Back to School 2020.

I would love to hear about your experience, so leave a comment below!

 

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