Halloween is over and people are starting to think of Christmas. But what about November?
How is it that November is getting looked over? I imagine we can blame it on companies that want us to start thinking of Christmas so that we start spending and buying.
But … I think we need to slow down…. we are in November… let’s enjoy it!
November is the perfect month to promote family and encourage your students and their families to spend some quality time together.
When I think of November, I think of family dinners, laughs, joy, spending time together and being grateful. I value this month because it really does invite us to bring many graces into our lives and classrooms. And while I’ve always thought this, I didn’t always invite this into my classroom…
In my fourth year of teaching (first grade), I realized that I wasn’t doing much in terms of a “home school connection.” It was a few days before Thanksgiving and I gave each student some turkey drawing to take home, decorate, and bring back. My only caveat was that family had to help them. The instructions were to color it (family should help) or decorate it with things found around the house (again family should help) and to return before we left on Thanksgiving break.
I can admit to you now that I didn’t put much thought into this turkey and that it definitely wasn’t the cutest thing. I hadn’t really planned things through. Regardless of the effort on my part, my students surprised me! As the turkeys trickled in, I saw such pride and excitement in my students’ eyes as they proudly showed me their turkeys. These not-so-cute-turkeys (that I had just found by the copy machine in the lounge) looked pretty good.
And after showing me their turkey, they would start sharing with me about who in their family had helped: mom, dad, sister, grandpa, grandma, auntie, uncle… I got lots of responses.
How was this different than a homework assignment? No one ran up excitedly to show me their homework! The sense of pride my students were feeling was surely because they had created something with their own family.
And so, I was hooked on Family Projects. You can bet the following year, I sent home a cuter turkey! Ha! And I gave families a little more time and clearer directions but the intent was the same and my students’ reactions were the same.
My Family Projects now are a little different than before, in a good way. Now, I am a lot more organized. I send home a parent letter and student directions. I’ve also created options for creating their family turkey. And I build time into the day for students to share out in class about their turkey and an opportunity for students to observe each other’s turkeys which both lead to great classroom conversations!
While things have changed from the first time my students ever made turkeys, the responses year after year are the same – a sense of pride and excitement to share what they’ve done with their families!
That, to me, is what November is all about. Spending time with family and enjoying the company they are in!
If you are interested in trying out my version of Family Turkeys, check out the link below. Option 1: the students write what they are thankful for in each feather and glue them onto their turkeys. Option 2: Family members outline their hands and curl the ends to make the turkey feathers.
If you would rather try a different turkey. Here are some ideas that I have saved on Pinterest that I think are fairly easy to recreate and your students will also love!
I know that family is important to you and creating time for your students to spend with their family (even if it is a “homework” assignment) is beyond valuable!
Let me know below if you do something similar with your students already? I’m always looking for new ideas!