This is a favorite program at OPS, very popular with students in most grade levels. In keeping with the theme of Thanksgiving, students are encouraged to send Turkey-Grams to their friends, family, teachers, etc., saying "thank you" for something that person did - big or small (in fact, the smaller, the better!). The idea is to help students develop a habit of noticing and showing gratitude and appreciation for all the good things that happen each day.
Once students have completed the Turkey-Gram form, they are "mailed" but "stuffing" them into the belly of the turkey mailbox pictured above. This turkey mailbox has been named Grateful Gary, and he has come to life in the morning announcements, highlighting select messages sent by students. Here's a couple of examples from this past November:
"Gobble! Gobble! I’m so grateful for Turkey Grams! And I’m grateful to you all, OPS, for trusting me with your most heartfelt messages to each other. I hope you won’t mind me sharing these, because they’re just too wonderful to keep to myself:
I’m thankful for you because:
- you let me be in your group when I had no group to be in,
- I love how you sleep with me at night when you’re scared,
- your quiet thoughtfulness makes the world a better place every day, and
- you bring out the best in me.
You’ve certainly brought out the best in each other with these! And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share them. Today, I’m thankful for you, OPS! Who are you thankful for?
Remember, get your turkey-grams in before end-of-day Thursday!"
The next day, this was the announcement:
"Gobble! Gobble! Today is the last day to submit turkey-grams!! Please mail them before the end of the school day! Also, if you haven't checked the flipgrid page, be sure to do that before the end of Friday! There may be a turkey video-gram waiting for you there!
Now, I know I've done a lot of gobbling about the messages you all wrote and encouraged you to be specific, but since this is my last announcement for this year, I want to talk about the messages I heard most often. See if you notice a theme:
I'm thankful for your because:
- You are my friend,
- You always play with me,
- You always help me, and
- You make me smile.
Notice the theme? All of these messages seem to say "I can count on you." Isn't that so important? To know you have someone you can always count on to be there for you? Sometimes, just being together is all another person needs; you don't have to actually DO anything except want to be with your friend, too. Isn't that beautiful? I'm certainly grateful for that! And I'm grateful for being here with you, Mr. Hagopian! You've made my time at OPS so much fun! But now it's time to go. Until next year, this is Grateful Gary, signing off. Who are you thankful for?"
The research (see below) on this is very clear. Practicing gratitude daily has been proven to increase one's sense of happiness more than anything else. Recognizing and appreciating what one has (rather than postponing happiness until one attains something) forces us to focus on the positive. It is the opposite of the Just The Bad ANT described in the Captain Snout book.
For more information about how to practice gratitude and its benefits, please see the following:
Gratitude Practice Explained by Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
3 Ways to Practice Gratitude by KidsHealth.org
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude at Psychology Today
How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain by Greater Good Magazine