Gratitude- 2 games for home or school
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends
Here are two games to get your gratitude groove going.
Turn It Around
My dad used to say, “You don’t know how good you have it!” I say the same thing to my own children. They respond by saying, “Yeah, yeah Mum, you had to walk up hills backwards with weights on!”
Most days and moments we take for granted the monumental blessings in our lives. We don’t know how much we take things for granted until those things are gone. In a moment our lives can change. Simply being able to get up out of bed can become a huge gift. As a teacher, I find reading literature to children helps them understand how in many places basic survival takes up the days and nights of many children. They learn how priviledged they are by simply being born in our country. We talk about how we have clean running water, health and medical care and the right to go to school. How can many of our children know what to be grateful for if they have always had it and don’t know any other way? These are in-depth lessons learned over many years. Below are a few simple games to see the world in a different way, through the lens of gratitude.
This little game demonstrates how the things we complain about can be turned into gratitude. You and your child can get your list of complaints out and write them down on one side of a piece of paper. Start with five.
The list might look something like this: (I hear these ones all the time)
- I have homework
- Man I am tired from hockey practice and I have swimming after school.
- I only get water today. My mom didn’t pack me juice.
- I don’t want to clean out the dishwasher before school
- I hate taking the bus; it is so noisy
Now ask your child or the students in your class to turn their complaints around. You can dig as deeply as you like. Have the children rephase in their own words. I just wrote up a few to demonstrate the idea. Take note of the last two turn arounds.
- Even though I have homework, I get to go to school. Many children don’t get that chance.
- Wow I actually get to go to a hockey practice. My parents get up early and drive me. I have the priviledge of learning a skill and get to play on the ice early in the morning.
- Wow, water runs right out of our taps and into our cups. It is clean and doesn’t need to be boiled before I can use it. I didn’t have to walk 4 miles with a bucket on my head only to find the river is dry. I get to drink water whenever I feel like it. Amazing.
- I don’t like to clean out the dishwasher but the alternative is to wash them all by hand. I can be grateful that I have plates and electricity to wash the dishes. I even get to eat off clean plates so I don’t get sick. Wow, I have so many choices of plates that it takes a whole dishwasher to clean them.
- Even though the bus is noisy, I get to ride home out of the rain and don’t have to walk 6 miles. I get extra time at home to play that would be used if I had to walk home. My parents don’t have to pick me up and use extra fuel to drive their car. With 45 kids on the bus we are really helping the planet. How wonderful it is noisy because there are so many kids chatting and playing.
I Spy Gratitude
Sitting in the classroom, have the children look out from their desks and really see the space they are in. You as the teacher can start with a few ideas such as:
- I spy windows. I am grateful for the windows in the classroom, for without them we would be cold and the rain would pour in.
- I spy the heater. I am grateful for the heater on this cold November day because without it we couldn’t sit here and learn. It would be too cold.
- I spy my smelly felts. I am grateful for my own set of felts so I can color my posters and pictures. I can use them whenever I like to express myself.
- I guarentee after 30 students sharing, eveyone will look at the classroom in a whole new way. The tiniest things will be recognized as something to give thanks for.
All these practices build the muscles of gratitude. Gratitude is a practice and an ongoing alertness in seeing the world through conscious eyes.