"I'm Thankful for..." List

Grade Levels: K - 5


  • Students will learn to free-associate.
  • Students will use their lists to write a poem or descriptive piece.
  • Students will find commonality among their lists.


  • Paper
  • Pencils


  1. Students will be taught how to free-associate by watching the teacher model the technique on the board. Share the definition of "free association" with your students: the reporting of the first thought that comes to mind in response to a given stimulus (as a word).
  2. Start by generating a list of things you are thankful for. Tell them that you will write down anything that comes to mind, without editing. The object of this exercise is to generate a long, diverse list.

  3. Have students begin their lists.

  4. After sufficient time, allow students to share their lists. It's important to model enthusiasm for items on the lists that you have in common.

  5. Students refer to their lists to write. Some suggestions are: descriptive paragraphs, letters to people they are thankful for, posters of their thankful lists, or poems.

  6. Be sure to tell them that this technique is a very successful way to elicit writing.

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