Combining Gratitude and History

Christmas is a fun time to make all kinds of crafts with elementary kids.  I like doing simple things – mainly because I’m not all that craft-sy. 😂 A quick and easy art idea is this cute Christmas tree that doubles as an ornament … perfect for someone like me! 

But as a Grade 2 teacher, I loved it when I could motivate kids with a piece of local history while teaching reading, writing and math outcomes. Discussing the Halifax Explosion is a great example of this.  

On December 6, 1917, Halifax was the scene of one of Canada’s largest disasters. The Halifax Explosion proved to be a catastrophic event that triggered kindness from around the world. The United States, particularly the citizens of Boston, showed tremendous compassion by delivering medical supplies and sending nurses and doctors to help Halifax citizens.  As a symbol of gratitude, Halifax sent them a Christmas tree the year following the explosion. It then became an annual tradition.

I loved using this historic example for two reasons: First, students were amazed by the facts (such as the explosion resulted in entire houses being moved off their foundations) and second, it was the perfect opportunity to teach kindness and gratitude to my students.

Here’s a resource that has over 20 different ideas to teach kids about gratitude. There’s nonfiction informational texts and writings about the Halifax Explosion and the Boston Christmas Tree, procedural writing activities, Christmas tree trivia and math. There's even a Gratitude Christmas Tree for your students to decorate!

Have fun teaching kids to be grateful!

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