Each year, my school does a service project around Thanksgiving to open up the world just a little bit to our preschoolers. Empathy is a lifeskill that begins to develop at a young age, but it needs to be fostered. Young children are egocentric and need to make an authentic connection with other people to really grasp the idea of giving to someone else. Over the last couple of weeks, my students collected pajamas for The Pajama Program. It is a national program that provides pajamas for children all over the nation who are in need of warm sleepwear. Scholastic Books then matches each pair of pjs with a book and the pajamas will be distributed to children in need. Most of these children are in orphanages or foster homes and do not have families of their own. All children can relate to pajamas! Many of our children helped select the pajamas they wanted to give to another child. We discussed how giving to others can be an expression of our own thankfulness for what we have.
Another way I address the idea of thanksgiving with my students is through a special time of sharing. I give each child five candy corns and ask them to think about 5 things they are thankful for. It often brings tears to my eyes to listen to their sweet and honest expressions of thanksgiving. Yesterday was no different. As we went around the circle, the children were silent – listening to each of their friends share about being thankful for a variety of things: God, their families, friends, school, food, warm beds, pets, music, etc. It was a time of real reverence.
I hope that as you celebrate Thanksgiving this week that you will pause to reflect on your blessings and thank God for them. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
If you and your family or class are interested in participating in the Pajama Program, it isn’t too late. Check out http://teacher.scholastic.com/clubs/pjdrive.htm for more information!