Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is Thanksgiving?

My first year of teaching, I posed this question to my three-year-olds, naively thinking that they would be well-versed in Pilgrims, Indians, the Mayflower and such. What I got in response to my question was a sea of blank stares, with one exception. Interestingly, I had one student that year who was able to explain to me exactly what Thanksgiving was; this student had just moved from Australia - where they don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Obviously, the preschool program in that country rocks, what with the focus on American traditions and all. (Trying to return the favor, later in the year we all tried Vegemite. Um....it was gross).

In general, my students have no clue what Thanksgiving is. And, seriously, how could they - I mean, they are three! They have celebrated maybe three Thanksgivings, and only one they may possibly remember. So, after that first year, I dropped the whole Pilgrim, Mayflower, Indian thing and concentrated on what I personally think Thanksgiving is about. Being thankful for what you have and your family.

Explaining "thankful" is tough. At three, you really have no need to be thankful. You are loved and well cared for and the world revolves around you (ideally; I like to think all three year olds are this blessed). So I explain "thankful" as the feeling that makes you feel happy and good inside. I read Thanks for Thanksgiving, which does a pretty good job of listing things that make you feel happy and relating it to the holiday. We spend about a week talking about what "thankful" is, and then I ask the class, "What are you thankful for?" Some answers this year were...

Candy corn

Everyone and everything

The "Tinkerbell" DVD

Dance class

Santa bringing me a puppy

My friends

Mrs. V (I swear, I didn't give hints!)

My mom and my dad

My new baby

All the colors

My family

I think they more or less got the concept. I know there are some days when I myself am thankful for candy corn and my friends. Of course, chocolate is always on my list, too.

I do still ask the question, "What is Thanksgiving?", always curious about what the kids will say. This year, I had the usual sea of blank stares, with one exception. One little boy raised his hand and said, "Thanksgiving is a day when you eat lots of turkey and food, and you spend all day with your family, and you tell them you love them."

Wow, this little guy pretty much nailed the holiday for me. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Happy Thanksgiving!!


No comments: