Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Am Thankful Activities

Here is a wonderfully simple activity that I look forward to doing with my class every year.  First, we read Bear Says Thanks, by Karma Wilson. 
This book is good for so many things.  First of all, whenever we read ANY book, I always have the children tell me IN A SENTENCE what the author does and what the illustrator does.  They say, "The author writes the words."  "The illustrator draws the pictures."  We check for that all-important dedication page and see which initials match up.  This book is fabulous for a picture walk.  The illustrations are  so rich.  The children noticed the leaves were blowing because they were placed randomly on the page. They noticed the movement, the excitement, and the emotions just from the illustrations.  (Thanks, J.C.!)  I have to say that I am so thankful to teach Kindergarten, because it makes me "notice" things, too.  On my way home from school today, I really noticed the leaves dancing and twirling in the wind, because I had talked about it with the class. It really made me smile.  I hope they noticed them, too.
Next, since we have been learning about punctuation marks, we point them out in the text.  This is a great story for noticing quotation marks.
We also talk about what it means to be thankful. That is harder for the children to explain than it sounds.  The story also uses "grateful," which is another good word to introduce.  We came up with words like happy, pleased, appreciating something (although that is a big word, too!)  I finally came up with being happy with something that means a lot to us.  Then, telling someone that you are happy about it, or thanking them for it if it is something someone has done for you or given you.  How does that sound? 

Then, we start our I Am Thankful book.  It is a simple poem to illustrate. It was an old Sunday School poem that I changed to fit for school.  We make a hand turkey on the cover under the title. 

Click on the picture below if you would like a copy. It is SIMPLE- because the kids get to make it fancy. I updated this one to say, "I am" instead of "I'm" since it is yet another way to see those sight words!

I used to do this activity on a sort of scroll. I would glue long white paper together lengthwise, so the children could hang it up when they were done. I actually HAND WROTE each one on construction paper since it was the olden-days. Yes I did...   You could glue this together  if  you wanted. I have started doing it as a book, since we are all about "writing books" in Kindergarten now.  This is a great activity for Writer's Workshop.  We have been working on trying to add letters, words, and sentences to our books.  This little activity lets us S L O W  DOWN and go back to details in our illustrations (under the guise of Thanksgiving).  My kids still need so much work and so many  reminders with illustrations- like remembering that people have arms, different color hair and eyes, clothes...if you draw daddy's head the actual size on the paper, mommy and the rest of the family won't fit  - things like that. 

We started this activity as a whole group, making the hand turkey cover.  I modeled first page illustrations, and we did that together.  ( I didn't model the Jack-O-Lantern.  That is holiday left-overs...)
I finished the rest of the book during our small group center time. Both worked well. I liked having the children draw their families during small group time, because I could talk to each child about his/her family, what everyone looked like, who was biggest or smallest, if there were pets...   
I also love sharing, "I'm thankful for all the good things that I see," with the kids. I love hearing and seeing what is special to them. I do have them label what they draw on this page, so we get a little writing in there.

 This was one of my favorite self-portraits!

If you are looking for another fun book to have your children write for Thanksgiving, Michaela Peterson has a sweet  I'm Thankful For Minibook freebie at her TPT store.  I love her illustrations. 

Have fun!  I just want to tell you all that I am so thankful for all of you reading my blog, leaving me sweet comments, and for the wonderful friendships I have made here.  I am TRULY thankful, grateful, and appreciative.  You really do make me so happy.  So I was right- that is what thankful means!


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