Updated: Jul 12
By Christy | The Practicing Pro
How do you instill in your child to be thankful for what they have? How can you help your children to notice ways that they can help others who might not have all that they do? How do you help them realize how fortunate they are to play a musical instrument and that not all children are so lucky?
For the Thanksgiving season, here's a fun Turkey Themed Activity to use in your home music practicing! You can also use it when it's not Thanksgiving, too of course!
This Turkey-inspired activity is the perfect thing to do to make doing your repetitions more fun! It will also give you the chance to be thankful for many things, including playing an instrument.
Giving a child a sense of belonging
Children feel like they have something that makes them special when they can play an instrument and play it well. It gives them confidence! During practice, you can help them internalize these feelings and own them. Examples would be after they accomplish something, watch carefully for a smile, and when you catch one, say, "Wow - that made you smile - what a good feeling you have inside when you accomplish something like playing something on your violin so well!" or "I can tell you liked playing that song! Your foot was tapping, and you made my foot tap too!"
So much MORE than just an instrument
There are so many things to be thankful for that come from playing an instrument.
You have something that you can share with others to make them HAPPY!
Parents can notice the quality time spent with their children while going to and from lessons in the car. This can be a peaceful time to talk about their days, to listen to their Suzuki CD on the way to the lesson, and on the way home after the lesson to talk about all of the great things you observed as a parent in their lessons.
Suzuki parents that sit in lessons take notes, don't use their phones in the lesson, but cherish this time in the lessons as a small bit of time to give their undivided attention to their child once a week.
Children grow up so quickly, and this time is so precious! Children feel loved and see you valuing their lessons and progress, so they will value it too. Children learn to value things by observing what they value.
You can show you are thankful for your child playing an instrument
Taking great notes in lessons and making amazing practice sheets and fun activities can show your child by your example that you value their lessons and them playing an instrument. It's easier to return effort when someone shows they value something with their effort and time.
A personal example:
My daughter has a pile of notebooks of my handwritten notes that I took at her piano lessons each week. She has kept everyone, and when she looks at the big pile of them with carefully taken notes and observations of just her playing the piano, she knows that I care about her playing the piano and her goals.
Taking a moment to be thankful
So many positive things can stem from our daily practice when we are clever practicing parents. Here is an activity to allow you to take a few minutes and make my Thankful Turkeys at the end of your home music practice. On each feather, you can write down something you're thankful for and as you practice, then after your practice, attach all of the feathers to your turkey(s).
Parents model being "Thankful."
As a parent, you can model the types of things we can/could be thankful for. Keeping your child's age in mind, help them understand that there are certain things that we can also be thankful for outside of things like our toys, candy etc.
Whatever your child says they are thankful for, be sure not to judge what they choose. If you see they are struggling with this in any way, quietly say that you want to make the turkeys together and make one too they look like so much fun! They can practice for a feather for themselves and then for you and back and forth. When it's your feather, you can model things that are maybe more meaningful to guide their thoughts on your turn. Again, if this doesn't work, though, refrain from judgment. Just model quietly. They will learn better that way.
Examples for younger children:
I am thankful for:
for food to eat etc...
Younger children are thankful for their immediate, physical things by nature.
This is a wonderful trait, and you may even be surprised by the things that they express when they get a few responses and don't feel judged or like you expect a certain answer.
Examples for older children:
Older children can be more specific.
I am thankful for:
my grandfather, teacher,
my best friend
my country, school
playing the piano
for favourite foods etc...
Thankful Turkey - Downloads
Here are the Turkeys and Feathers that you can download and print out!
You can print as many feathers as you like and make one turkey or a flock of them!
Coloured Turkey Body - pdf download Feathers - pdf download Black & White Turkey Body - pdf download Feathers - pdf download
How to use the Thankful Turkeys for practicing
Each time you complete a repetition or an item on your practice checklist, you get a feather! At the end of your practice, take the time to write something you are grateful for on each feather.
Glue your feathers on to create your Thankful Practicing Turkey!
This is what I used:
Turkey and Feather Downloads - printed
Scissors to cut out the turkey and feathers
Pen or Pencil to write on the feathers
coloured pencils/markers (optional if you choose to colour your turkey and feathers)
If you feel frustrated that your child is not easily thankful, try and work on it during practice times and also make it FUN! You can use this alternative activity as well!
Bring a Thanksgiving treat to a neighbour with your completed practice turkey and deliver the turkey as a card and the treat together.
Maybe try to find someone you don't know as well instead of a close friend or family member! This teaches the child to reach out of their comfort circle and to see that some people live alone and might be lonely. It shows them firsthand that not everyone has as much as them. When they can see that they can make others happy by sharing with them, they grow to appreciate all that they have a little more.
Watch for future activities, from the PRACTICING PRO, before Christmas, or search for past articles about "serving others" to help your child learn to express what they are thankful for. Christmas is an easier time to do nice things for others and is a perfect time to learn and go outside of your comfort zone and be creative.
You can print extra turkeys or email this link, share them with your friends or cousins, and do this activity together. Share stories and photos back and forth.
Please send me a photo of your completed Thankful Turkey so we can all share what we are thankful for!
Check out my Free PDF download Checklist for a Successful Music Practice for teachers and practicing parents.
Your easy checklist for successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent or music teacher, this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.
INVITATION from Christy Hodder:
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