Learning to Express Gratitude Is a Year-Long Theme:
We Sing, Sign, Spell, and Write “Thank You.”
Gratitude, kindergarten kindness, and friendship are yearlong themes in many kindergarten classrooms. Learning to express and write "Thank you" is a caring phrase that builds healthy relationships and positive attitudes for life inside and outside of the classroom. We recognize that developing social-emotional skills is instrumental to all other learning.
Wise kindergarten teachers model an attitude of gratitude and help children develop more appreciation and kindness for the people in their lives! Learning how to express and write “Thank you,” I love you,” and “You’re my friend,” is one of the contributions educators make to healthier school communities.
Children learn to Sing, Sign, Spell, and Read! Soon they can write T-h-a-n-k y-o-u!
Singing and signing the “Thank You” song becomes a favorite appreciation ritual in kindergarten classrooms. “I Can Read” Anthology page and fingerspelling models are shared with families.
Creating a “Thank You” Ritual to Honor Volunteers
- Children enjoy sharing their “Singing, Signing, Thank You Ritual” with special kindergarten helpers! Notice the smiles! Visitors and friends are charmed to receive this musical gift of appreciation.
- To sign thank you: “Touch the lips with the fingertips of one or both flat hands, then move the hands forward until the palms are facing up. It is natural to smile and nod the head while making this sign.” (From The Perigee Visual Dictionary of Signing by Rod R. Butterworth and Mickey Flodin. Berkley Publishing Group, 1995)
Volunteers and Guests Also Appreciate Receiving Appreciation in Writing and Art
“I love your music Teacher Nellie”
- More proficient writers can always be reminded, Oh, you could write a thank you note—Teacher Nellie would love that! Now what teacher wouldn’t be charmed by children’s authentic writing and drawing?
Kindergartners Learn to Make “Thank You” Cards for Their Special Friends
- These kindergartners wrote thank you notes to their principal! They have such a caring bond with her they even know her favorite color is purple!
Motivate Kindergarten Writers and Surprise Parents with Thank You Messages
- Children can talk to their writing buddy about what they are thankful for and who they say “thank you” to.
- Children love to surprise parents with “thank-you” notes. After children have practiced writing “thank you” repeatedly for fluency building, give them 3″ x 8½″ strips of paper to make several “thank you” notes to take home in an envelope. Children can brainstorm where to hide them: under pillows, by the phone, in Dad’s shoes, etc. (Thank you, Patti Peck, for this delightful literacy gift idea.)
- In the Independent Write-a-Message Center tote keep model sentences: “Thank you for being my friend”; “Thank you for helping me”; “I like you”; and “You are my friend.”
Teachers greet each child and model acts of appreciation, celebration, and empowering language throughout the day.
- Thank you for coming to school on time today!
- Thank you for holding the door open. That’s showing kindergarten kindness!
- Thank you for listening so quietly. Everyone was able to hear.
- Thank you for working so hard: You learned to write “I love you!”
- Thank you for pushing the chairs in – no one even asked you. You sure know how to take care of our classroom!
- Wow! Thank you for helping us clean up so quickly. That’s showing kindergarten responsibility.
Consider opportunities for children to share appreciation:
Teach children to say “Good job.” And “Thank you for being my partner.”
- Create a classroom where children help each other. Let them practice saying, “Thank you for helping me!” Soon it will be a habit!
- Children learn to choose a partner (“Will you be my partner please?”), perform a “mirror dance” together, and then say, “Thank you for being my partner.”
- Kindergarten friends, notice if someone says “thank you” to you today. Tell us about it at the end of the day. Then we can all look at our friend and sing, sign, and fingerspell “Thank you.”
- Encourage children to look for opportunities within the classroom for children to establish eye contact and practice saying “Thank you” to each other. This might be when someone passes them snacks, pushes chairs in, holds the door open, etc.
- Teach children to read, write, and spell “Thank you”. Listen to the "Thank You" song from our Sing, Sign, Spell & Read! CD below. (This strategy is from Nellie Edge Online Seminar #3.)
"Thank You" Song
A Thankful Feast for Native Americans
The story of Thanksgiving and a study of the gifts of the Native Americans to the pilgrims and the Native American view of the natural world provide an opportunity to create rich November curriculum themes including foods and nutrition. Wise and gracious kindergarten teacher Joanie Cutler (now mentoring kindergarten teachers) involved families in creating a “Thankful Feast for Native Americans,” held in the classroom for families. Before the feast, the children performed songs and dances.
Always, there are celebrations of language...
Six engaging books on gratitude and Thanksgiving: Thank you!
These delightful books invite children to have “grand conversations” about all the things they are thankful for:
Bear Says Thanks (The Bear Series) by Karma Wilson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012) What a charming way for Bear to say thanks: he invites all his friends over for a big dinner. This tender tale is perfect for Thanksgiving. “Told in rhymed verse, the text reads aloud and smoothly. As the animals arrive with their edible gifts, a repeated line, ‘and the bear says thanks’ gives children a chance to participate in the story. The book’s large format allows plenty of space for the illustration, and Chapman’s lively acrylic paintings make the most of it. Even preschoolers new to the series will be charmed by this big, gentle bear and his generous woodland friends.” –Booklist.
The THANKFUL Book by Todd Parr (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012) The Thankful Book celebrates all the little things children can be thankful for. From everyday activities like reading and bath-time to big family meals together and special alone time between parent and child: I am thankful for music because it makes me want to dance. I am thankful for my feet because they help me run and play. I am thankful for kisses because they make me feel loved. This may become a mentor text inspiring each child to create their own “My Thankful Book”.
Thank You, World, by Alice B. McGinty (Dial Books, 2007). Publisher description: “The joys of childhood are the same the whole world over. In this compelling book of celebratory rhyme and glowing pictures, eight very different kids from eight different countries all go about their day and experience the same moments of happiness: greeting the sun in the morning, swinging on a swing, flying a kite, being tucked in by Mommy at bedtime. Uplifting and visually rich, this book reminds us that the world isn’t as large as it seems and that life’s greatest pleasures are the simple ones.”
Giving Thanks, by Jonathan London (Candlewick Press, 2003). A young boy learns to show gratitude for all the beauty he sees from his father, who thanks the sky and animals and trees. Like his Indian friends, this father believes that things of nature are a gift that requires something be given back – a thank you. The Booklist review says it, “…fosters respect for the natural world through a relatively simple text and illustrations and expresses the beauty and dignity of nature.” And we agree!
Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Marks (Harper Collins, 2004). This warm, joyful book celebrates the many things children are thankful for – from Thanksgiving turkey and pie to hopscotch and fall leaves. Sharing this simple book is a wonderful way to foster a spirit of gratitude. The message inspires children to think about the many things they have to say “Thank you” for. As an extra bonus, the print is clear and large enough to engage early reader.
If You Were At The First Thanksgiving, by Anne Kamma (Scholastic, 2007). This authentic look at the first Thanksgiving presents a fascinating historical account for children and adults who will appreciate more information about the pilgrims, Indians, and the idea of Thanksgiving. A 65-page read-aloud book.
Thank you Mo Willems for reminding us to “get thanking!”
We absolutely adore Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems and the lessons they teach us about friendship and life! It is fitting that the last book in this best-selling series (and in our Elephant and Piggie Book Club) is The Thank You Book in which and Piggie is determined to have a “Thank-O-Rama!”
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