The artwork on the first page of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga depicts a tree showing all the way it changes with the seasons. After reading We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, head outside with students to choose and identify a deciduous tree in your community as your gratitude tree. Have students observe their tree every Thursday and make notes and drawings as the tree changes with the seasons. Each “Thankful Thursday” as students take notes about the tree, have them include one thing they are grateful for that week. At the end of the school year, celebrate your gratitude tree with:
What matters to you? What do you notice about the world around you?
What are you grateful for? Why?
What ways do you show your gratitude?
Why is it important to reflect on both your blessings and difficult times?
What did you learn about the Cherokee and Cherokee traditions and culture? What more would you like to know?
What is a syllabary? Discuss the importance of the Cherokee syllabary today.
Classroom and Activity Guide for We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Your Classroom from Edutopia
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp
The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Gracias / Thanks by Pat Mora
Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner
Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin
Thanku: Poems of Gratitude edited by Miranda Paul
Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Traci Sorell was born and raised in the Cherokee Nation and began writing for children when she noticed a lack of books that feature contemporary Native Americans. NEA Today spoke to Sorrell about We Are Grateful: Ostaliheliga and the lessons it contains.
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