. . . a 1st and 2nd grade approach to the “Tree of Thanks.”
Continuing with my goal of recognizing the GOOD things our friends do (and not just spending our time “tattling” on one another at recess), I took my Tree of Thanks lesson and adapted it for my 1st graders. They really (and I mean REALLY) liked it, so I actually did the exact same lesson with my 2nd graders (who also REALLY liked it).
Topics Covered: Responsibility, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Respect, Communication Skills
I started my lesson off by reading a very, very, VERY old book that must have been passed down to me from someone else. The illustrations in the book are so old that color on them is really faded and one of the second graders was pretty sure it was a 3-D book and I was missing the glasses that went with it. By the looks of the cover I’m 110% positive it is not a 3-D book, but hey I’ll continue to look for those glasses just in case.
Anyways, the book is called That’s What Friends are For by Florence Parry Heide (to emphasize the oldness of my book, please note the differences in book covers – mine vs. Amazon’s). In the book, Theodore (an elephant) is trying to figure out how to visit his cousin on the other end of the forest, but he can’t walk because (somehow) he hurt his leg. Throughout the story, various friends come to give Theodore advice. Pretty much the book talks about how giving advice is nice, but a real friend is meant to help. The book ends by saying, “Friends should always help a friend. That’s what friends are for.”
So after reading the story we talk about the kinds of things for which Theodore could thank his friends. Then, I pass out a slip of paper to each boy. It simply says, “Thank you ______________. You are a good friend because _________________.” Anonymously the boys are able to thank one friend for anything they would like. Just like the Tree of Thanks lesson, I had to explain to the boys that they needed to write a more detailed thank you than, “You are a good friend because you are nice/good/kind, etc.” Once the boys had written their thank yous, they folded it in half and gave it to me.
Now here comes the fun! We all sat in a circle and passed a ball to one another. Each time the ball was passed the person would thank the other friend for something. Maybe not the best explanation . . . I admit . . . here’s an example:
Me: (I’m passing the ball to Johnny) Johnny, thank you for holding the door for me earlier today.
Johnny: You’re welcome, Miss LeBrasse. (Passing the ball to Sam). Sam, thank you for playing with me at recess.
Got the idea?
So, once that round was over, we played one more round. Example:
Me: (I’m passing the ball to Paul) Paul, you are a good friend because you always listen to me when I’m teaching a lesson.
Paul: Thank you, Miss LeBrasse. (Passing the ball to Dave). Dave, you are a good friend because you helped me pick up my crayons when they fell on the floor.
Once we had played the game twice, I passed out the folded thank yous. Now, here’s the deal, not every boy got one, but to me that was okay, because during the game they would have received 2 additional compliments. So, anyways, that’s how it went. I hope it doesn’t sound too complicated because it really wasn’t!
In fact, the boys were so quiet and intently listening during the game because they truly wanted to hear what their friends would thank them for (plus they really wanted to throw and catch that ball)! Give it a try and let me know how it works out! I’d be really curious!