Thanksgiving is a time when people all over the country come together in a celebration of giving thanks for the blessings that make life special.
The holiday is a tradition that has been celebrated for so long, that some may not even remember being introduced to the concept as a child. However, kindergarten students at Milton J. Fletcher Elementary School appear to have the right idea when it comes to reasons to be thankful.
Anne Sischo, kindergarten teacher, spent Thursday working with the students of her class on projects that got them thinking about the aspects of their lives for which they are thankful. The day started with Sischo reading Scholastic's "The Most Thankful Thing" by Lisa McCourt.
Anne Sischo stands with a group of kindergarten students at Milton J. Fletcher Elementary School. Behind them is one of the projects Sischo had the students work on with their parents. The students were given the task of disguising pictures of turkeys so that they wouldn’t be eaten on Thanksgiving.
P-J photos by Dusten Rader
"It's about a little girl sitting with her mother trying to guess what her mother is most thankful for," said Sischo. "She talks about the great things she did in her life. And, throughout the whole story the little girl keeps trying to guess. Finally at the end the mother says that the thing she is most thankful for is her daughter."
After hearing the story and having a discussion about it, the children were given the task of writing and drawing pictures of the people, places and things that they are thankful for. The majority of the children expressed thanks for their mothers and fathers, while some mentioned their grandparents, siblings or pets.
"I'm thankful for my mom, my dad, my brother and my sister, my house, the school, and my new glasses," said one boy. "And, my favorite thing to eat is turkey with gravy."
Another boy said his favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving is mashed potatoes, but not with gravy or butter, he said; he likes them plain.
"We have a party on Thanksgiving night, and our grandma and grandpa come over," the boy said.
One boy got a little more poetic by saying that he was thankful for the trees, the sky and the sun. Another was most excited about getting to eat a lot.
"I'm thankful for my dad and my mom, I'm thankful for the school and I love chocolate," one girl said. "On Thanksgiving I help my mom cook breakfast and dinner. And, I like to eat rice, turkey, gravy and everything else."
The students were given a book entitled "Turkey's Treat" which is available for free at kentuckykindergartenkorner.blogspot.com. The book details what things a turkey would eat for Thanksgiving.
"We tried to tie in Thanksgiving into our reading center to practice skills such as sight words and punctuation," said Sischo. "Having a Thanksgiving theme makes it a little more fun for them. When they are finished they get to take it home to share it with their family."
Sischo also had her students work on a project that included their parents. Students and their parents were asked to disguise pictures of turkeys so that they wouldn't be eaten on Thanksgiving.
Underneath each disguised turkey was a spot where the children were tasked with writing about why they chose to disguise the turkey the way they did.
One student disguised her turkey as a mayor. Underneath the mayor turkey she wrote, "I pretended to be the mayor going door-to-door wishing people happy Thanksgiving."
One boy ironically disguised his turkey as a hunter and wrote, "Tom the turkey decided to dress up like a hunter dressed in camo. Then he could hide and wouldn't be found."
Another girl decided she wanted her turkey to be a princess. So, she pasted a picture of Cinderella over the turkey and colored it instead. She wrote, "My turkey is so beautiful. My turkey escaped with the help of Cinderella's fairies. They saved me. Cinderella went past the garden and the farmer did not see me."
One boy even thought it would be a good idea to disguise his turkey as a cow for Thanksgiving. He wrote, "Our turkey looks like a cow. Our turkey has black spots and new cow ears. Our turkey also has a cow bell and tail. We hope the farmer doesn't find him."
"I've been doing this with my students each year for about 25 years now. And, a lot of my former students tell me that they remember it as their favorite project," said Sischo. "After they finished them we put them all up in the hallway with a big turkey that says, 'Our turkeys have come out to say: please don't eat us on Thanksgiving Day.' It's a good project to get the children to work together with their parents."
With each student being 5 years old or younger, Sischo said that some of the children may not remember previous Thanksgiving celebrations. But, after reading about the history of it and finding more information about the holiday from their teachers and parents, they come to understand the meaning behind being thankful, she said.
"I think they do understand because we've been discussing it," said Sischo. "At first they didn't, but the more we talk about it they understand why we are lucky to have a family, our home, our schools and food on the table."