My school celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge food drive for a local food pantry. Classrooms of older students are paired up with classrooms of younger students. This food drive really ignites our school as the pairs of classrooms compete to bring in the most food and win a pizza lunch.
My classroom celebrates Thanksgiving by sharing stories. I have the children write a poem called “A Story of Thanks,” that gives thanks using each of their five senses. I ask my students to recall a happy memory of past Thanksgivings or other family meals. They brainstorm and share their ideas with a neighbor. The students finish each of the following sentences to complete their poems:
Thank you for the eyes that see . . .
Thank you for the ears that hear . . .
Thank you for my mouth that tastes . . .
Thank you for my hand that feels . . .
Thank you for my nose that smells . . .
I really love displaying their work outside our classroom. My students add a picture to illustrate their poems. They love to read and look at each other’s work. We might not have them up too long, because I want them to take them home as a gift for their family. I believe many poems and pictures made it to the refrigerator—that place of family honor—for all to see. As I reflect on this simple poetry activity, I know my students have written a reflective prayer of gratitude.
Before the children leave for break, I remind my students that the word Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” Since they celebrated their First Holy Communion the past spring, they all nod their heads and recall their lessons from the year before. They also eagerly raise their hands to share a favorite story from their big day. Many of their stories recall Grandma, Grandpa, and other relatives gathering for a meal before or after the Mass.
Thanksgiving reminds me that relationships and family are essential to the way we live our faith. By inviting my students to share their family stories, I am teaching them the importance of families to our faith.
How do you use the Thanksgiving holiday to teach your students about the Catholic faith?
Download a fun Thanksgiving prayer placemat for use in your classroom or to send home with families.