December

Gratitude/Optimism

Recognizing the things in your life that you can be grateful for is a great step toward developing an optimistic mindset. Use the holidays as anchors for this month - build off of Thanksgiving by exploring the value of gratitude and go into the New Year with a focus on Optimism. Or some games!

We love Kid President, right? So let's start with a few words from him:

Gratitude/Optimism Activities

30 Days of Gratitude - 30 prompts to get us thinking about the things we have to be grateful about.

The Great Kindness Challenge - John Read Middle School spends part of January doing a “The Great Kindness Challenge”. They start as a group picking one of the following stories to share aloud- top 10 kindness stories of 2016. Then they ask students to reflect on acts of kindness they’ve done or seen. Following that discussion, students are asked to draw a picture of this act of kindness, which will be used to create a kindness bulletin board or mural. Here’s a template they gave: basic template with activity outline.

The Friendship Race - A game where students have to describe what it means to be a friend.

Friend Wanted Ads - Students write want ads listing the qualities they look for in friends.

Gratitude Surprise Sticky Notes - from Greater Good Magazine "Give each student one or more sticky notes to write something they’re grateful for about another person in the school community. Then have the students “deliver” the sticky notes by placing them where the person will see it, e.g., a locker, a phone, a cleaning cart." This activity and many more can be found at this webpage.

A Kids Yoga Sequence That Teaches Gratitude - you do not need to be a guru to teach these yoga poses, nor do you need to be Flex Armstrong to get into these poses.

How to make gratitude stones - create gratitude stones to remind you of what you are grateful for every day.

Worry Doll - create worry dolls to ease your mind.

Habits of Heart: Helping Students Reflect and Act on Gratitude - Edutopia blogger Maurice Elias offers teachers several activities to help students understand gratitude and put it to practice:

    • Thank You Cards - Ask students to think of someone in the school who has been helpful to them in some way, large or small, to whom they would like to thank, or express extra thanks.
    • Where Did That Come From? - In conjunction with ongoing curriculum emphases, pick common objects that you are studying and ask the question, "Where did that come from?" or the related question, "How did that get here?" A good example is an apple. Work backward with your students (using the Internet or other sources when necessary), to trace.
    • Gratitude Reflection - Have students consider the following:
      • Why this good thing happened
      • What this good thing means to you
      • What you can do tomorrow to enable more of this good thing
      • What you learned from taking the time to name this good thing
      • What ways you or others contribute to this good thing

Invention Requires Optimism

a short video featuring Dean Kamen.

An Expirement in Gratitude

This video demonstrates how powerful one simple act of gratitude can be. This video may be better suited for our older students due to the vocabulary - you may want to preview it to decide if you want to show it to your students, but you probably want to have some tissues nearby.

Are Pessimistic Brains Different?

a brief video of how pessimist and optimist brain differ and actually train brains.

World's Most Determined Dog

a video of the most determined dog to show persistence in the face of disabilities

Games

Middle School Group Games - Want to keep it light leading into vacation? Check out this huge list of games your advisees are sure to enjoy.