By Dr. Megan Horsh, Education Consultant | Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8
Almost every night, before giving my kids permission to leave our dinner table, I ask them to answer a question. What are three new things you learned today? What was your favorite part of the day? If you could change anything about today, what would it be?
Since our schools closed due to COVID-19, over a month ago, the focus of my questions has narrowed around a central topic, gratitude.
Name three things you used today that you are grateful to have?
Who is someone you are grateful to have in your life?
What is the thing you did today that you are most grateful for?
Activities and practices revolving around gratitude have been shown to have positive effects on psychological health and can be supportive of individuals dealing with adversity. In fact, gratitude activities can be used as coping strategies when facing difficult or stressful situations. Similar to how I use these activities around my kitchen table, educators can use these activities in their classrooms to help their students cope with difficult situations and assist in shifting mindsets.
The vast assortment of gratitude activities, coupled with their positive effects, make them an ideal tool for promoting social-emotional learning in the classroom during COVID-19 closures.
Simple or Complex
Gratefulness activities can be simple or complex. Students can simply take a picture of something they are grateful for, or write a letter to someone expressing their gratitude. Gratitude activities can be a response to a global prompt or one from your own imagination.
Tell me something YELLOW you are grateful for.
Take a picture of something OLDER THAN YOU that you are grateful for.
Write a letter to SOMEONE IN YOUR SCHOOL or SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY whom you are grateful for.
Using these specific prompts may help a student attend to something they might not have originally considered. It also might help a student focus when he or she is overwhelmed by a more global prompt.
Individual or Group
Finally, gratefulness activities can be worked on individually or as a group. You can set a group goal, for your class to identify 40 things that they are grateful for. Shifting this activity to a group project can take the pressure off of individual students who might struggle with this activity and may also promote a sense of community and connectedness as everyone works towards a common goal.
As schools continue to be closed during this pandemic, gratitude activities are a way to continue social-emotional learning in your classroom, while providing coping strategies for your students.
How can you incorporate gratitude activities into your classroom next week? Here is a link to a practice guide from givethx.org to help you find or develop a gratitude activity that fits in your classroom with your students.