This past summer I made a big change and got a new job at a Reggio based school in Los Angeles. I had been learning more and more about the Reggio approach to learning and when I came across a little Reggio preschool in Los Angeles, I knew it was the right place for me. As luck/life/the universe would have it, they had an opening for an atelierista and the rest is history. This past week we had the pleasure of inviting all the families to our Reggio inspired Thanksgiving feast. I know Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday, to say the least, due to it’s history. We chose to focus on themes of gratitude and welcoming guests into our home. It was a memorable experience that already has me inspired for next year. I’m so excited some of the details of our feast here. Maybe you’ll find some new ideas you can incorporate into your own family Thanksgiving Feast. I hope so. Here’s what we did.
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We started with discussions about gratitude. We asked questions like “What does gratitude mean?” Why are we grateful?” “What are you grateful for?” We talked about themes like being a good host and what it looks like to be a good host. We modeled and roll played being a gracious host and a good friend. We welcomed guests into our classrooms and practice ways to make others feel welcome. We had conversations about thankfulness and caring throughout the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and as the students shared their ideas with their teachers and each other, we came up with ideas on how to host a meaningful Thanksgiving Feast. It sounded something like this. “Let’s make invitations!” “That’s a great idea!”
The invitations were made by using fall colors on paper and pumpkin seeds. We spent a lot of time talking about fall colors and noticing them in nature. Pumpkins became a big part of our exploration, offering a wonderful sensory experience for the students. The invitations were filled with quotes about what each child was grateful for, as well as their own words inviting their families to the feast.
We brainstormed ways to make our feast inviting for our families. “I know! We can make decorations!” Each class busily prepared different decorations for our Thanksgiving tables. The 4 year olds hole punched leaves found on a nature walk and weaved yarn through the holes for a garland. The 2 and 3 year olds painted and glittered sticks they found to add to vases for centerpieces.
Every student worked on creating beautiful fall gratitude boxes with individual paintings and quotes about gratitude. You can read a tutorial on how to make gratitude boxes here. They were a special gift for each student to share with their families at the feast.
We used everything for the Thanksgiving table. It was a beautiful reflection of all the work and care of our students. The kids even cut leaves to hang from the sticks because they wanted to fill them with new gratitude quotes and the real leaves were “too small for all of our important words.” : )
A few days leading up to the feast, different groups of children worked diligently to create runners for the tables. They mixed their own colors, dyed their own paper towels with liquid water colors and cut their own pieces of yarn and ribbon from our ribbon wall. With glue and paint brushes they glued everything onto craft paper to create a beautiful fall runner.
Since this was my first Reggio Thanksgiving feast there was definitely a lot of learning for me as well. I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish with the kids next year. But overall, for our first go around, it was a terrific success. We also played a video where the kids shared what they were thankful for and sang beautiful songs of gratitude and thanks.
It was a wonderful experience I won’t soon forget and I hope the families that attended won’t either. The kids had a blast. Of course there was tons of food! I forgot to mention that part. Everyone chipped in on the cooking and it was delish!
Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions in your family? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. We will definitely be incorporating themes of gratitude and welcoming into our holiday experience. Wishing everyone a wonderful day of gratitude. I am so thankful to have this place to share with all of you. xo, Meri