We are finally into November.  It is the month of Thankfulness.  How do we teach thankfulness? Well, let’s back up just a moment and ask “Do we need to teach thankfulness?” The answer is yes, but not because it makes us a nicer human. Because it is beneficial to the emotional, and physical health of our students.  There have been about 40 different studies done on teaching gratefulness to kids. The results are amazing and yet a “well duh” moment at the same time.

Here is what the Washington Post posted in Health and Sciences:

“We know that grateful kids are happier [and] more satisfied with their lives,” says Jeffrey Froh, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University who focuses on the topic. “They report better relationships with friends and family, higher GPAs, less materialism, less envy and less depression, along with a desire to connect to their community and to want to give back.” He adds that there’s an even larger field of research on adults showing that being thankful has numerous psychological, social and even physical benefits such as lower blood pressure.

The Huffington Post writes:

The researchers found that those who were more likely to feel grateful to others also scored higher on academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement; those who appreciated the positives in general scored lower on risky behaviors like drug use and sexual attitudes and activity. One factor, positive family relationships, was associated with both types of gratitude. In other words, at least for this group of students, moral-affect gratitude seemed to enhance the positive conditions of their lives, while life-orientation gratitude seemed to buffer against some common high-risk pitfalls.

Although most websites suggest keeping a Gratitude Journal, which is a fabulous idea, it’s just not feasible in music class.  It is a great habit for teachers and students and one we should each try personally. The question remains, how can we accomplish teaching gratitude in the music room?

Here are 4 activities to do with your students each week for the month of November.

Week 1:  Giver and Receiver

Ask children to find a partner. Ask one child to be the Giver and one to be the Receiver.

*Ask the Givers to come to you and get rhythm sticks for their partners and themselves.
*Lead the Givers to tap 2 quarter notes and say “Giv-er.”
*Then lead the Receivers to tap 2 eighth notes and 1 quarter note and say “Re-cei-ver”
*With partners facing each other Have them repeat the 4 beat pattern.  “Giv-er, Re-cei-ver.”
*Ask the students to come up with food items that have the same number of syllables as their original words.
*Options: Wheat bread, pump-kin pie, or Tur-key, squash and peas, or corn-bread, po-ta-toes
*Child 1 will now tap the food item rhythm on their sticks and child 2 will tap back 2 quarters notes each time and say “Thank you.”

Child 1 – Wheat Bread     Child 2 – Thank you

Child 1 – Pump-kin pie     Child 2 – Thank you

*Stop and explain that the Pilgrims that came to America might have starved if the Native Americans had not taught them how to plant and grow crops in this new land.  Once the Pilgrim’s crops came in they were so grateful, they wanted to share their food with the Native Americans to show their gratitude. Ask some of the Givers how it felt to be the giver?  Ask some of the Receivers how it felt to be a receiver?
*Continue the activity, swapping the Giver and Receiver, and continue coming up with food combinations.

Week 2 – Drumming Thanks

*On your drum, tap the rhythm 2 quarters, 2 eighth notes, 1 quarter and say the words “I am thankful for.”
*Go around the drum circle and allow each child to say back something they are thankful for.   *This can be totally random or centered around a topic like family, or food, or school, etc.

Week 3 – Thanks Autumn

Give each student a colored marker, pencil, or crayon, and a piece of paper. Play Vivaldi’s Autumn and ask the children to draw some things they are grateful for.


Week 4 – Who’d you tell?

Get a small box and put a list of names in the box.  Names should be generic titles of people in your students lives, such as teacher, parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, baker, cashier, cafeteria worker, bus driver, etc.

*Lead all students to sit in a circle.
*Explain that we will pass the box while you say the chant below. When they hear the word stop they should open the box and draw out a name. Ask them what they would thank that person for.
*Begin the chant and start the box again.
*When the box has made as many stops as you have time allotment for, challenge the students to find that person and tell them thank you.
*Chant –      Attitude of Gratitude, attitude of Gratitude, attitude of gratitude, stop.

Emily Campbell wrote in Huffington Post:

Previous research clearly shows that it does. Practicing gratitude increases students’ positive emotions and optimism, decreases their negative emotions and physical symptoms, and makes them feel more connected and satisfied with school and with life in general.

Having and attitude of gratitude is important to your own health but it is also important to teach it to our students.

By: Darlene Abbott
Music Mom
All activities Copyright 2016.




Darlene Abbott

Darlene Abbott is a writer of preschool and children’s music and curriculum. She created Preschool Praisentations with Kathie Hill and has contributed to many products by LifeWay. Darlene is the creator of the Music Mom Products. She travels as an instructor and clinician for choir leaders, music educators, Children's Choir leaders, and day school teachers as well as women’s events.