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A bi-weekly newsletter for parents and educators, putting the education resources of PBS and DPTV at your fingertips.

Now that Halloween is over, it is time to turn our attention to the season of “thankfulness"--not just on Thanksgiving, but year-round. So, how do you raise thankful children? How do you instill that sense of gratefulness at home and in the classroom without making it feel like it’s a “holiday exercise” of sorts? In this issue of Be School Smart, we tackle this challenge and share with you ideas and tips to help raise humble and thankful children every day of the year.

As always, we would love to hear from you. Send us your pictures, comments and suggestions to Della Cassia at

Pre-school   |   K-2   |   3-6   |   Extras

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DPTV’s Pre-School U Initiative for parents and educators is a comprehensive resource for school readiness. For more information, visit our website >

Article Pre-school

10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Child
Kids under seven have difficulty understanding others' feelings and being internally motivated to do the right thing. Nonetheless, parents can actively, gently instill a sense of gratitude. Read the article >

Activity Pre-school

Make a Thankful Tree
We’re celebrating the beauty of fall by creating a festive centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table. View Activity >

Make a Card
Make a Card with Daniel Tiger to show someone you are thankful for them. View Activity >

Play Video

Giving Gives You a Good Feeling
Daniel and his friends help Mr. McFeely deliver his packages and together they sing about giving to neighbors.  Watch Videos >

Book Pre-school

Over the River and Through the Woods
By Lydia Maria Child
Travel to Grandma's house with this classic holiday poem. Rhyming text and striking illustrations celebrate favorite Thanksgiving traditions in rural New England, such as ice fishing and pumpkin pie. Learn more >

Article K-2

Should You Give Children Rewards?
While motivating children with incentives of money, toys or even a special activity can be very effective, some experts believe this prevents youngsters from developing their own sense of responsibility. Read the article >

Activity K-2

Create a Thanksgiving Time Capsule
Teaching young children about being thankful can be tricky. It’s an abstract concept and kids thrive with concrete. Doing something hands on is a good way to work on these concepts. View activity >

Play Video

Sesame Street Hand painted turkey
An artist paints a turkey on his hand!  Watch Videos >

Book K-2

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey
By Joy Cowley
Miguel's father sends him a turkey with simple instructions--fatten him up for the Thanksgiving feast. Instead, he becomes Miguel's beloved pet. How will he save his friend, Gracias the turkey, from becoming the main course at Thanksgiving dinner? Learn more >


Finding Gratitude during Difficult Times
There are many reasons families may struggle with feeling truly grateful during the holidays, but gratitude, despite life circumstances, is important to our emotional and physical health. Read the article >


16 Thanksgiving Crafts Worth Eating
Here’s our list of edible crafts from around the web that we’re oh, so thankful for! Go to activity >

Play Video

History of Thanksgiving with bonus teacher materials
Thanksgiving is a day for us to remember what we're thankful for. Uncover the history behind this holiday! Watch Videos >

Book 3-6

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message
By Chief Jake Swamp
This Iroquois Thanksgiving Address is an ancient message of peace and appreciation for Mother Earth and her inhabitants. Learn more >


Book View Now’s Rich Fahle recently sat down with beloved young adult author, 2013 Newbery Medal winner and Michigan-native Katherine Applegate to talk about her newest book “Crenshaw.” Below is an excerpt from their conversation.

Katherine-Applegate.jpgRich Fahle: Tell us a little bit about the idea of Crenshaw who’s a cat.

Katherine Applegate: Well, I think the catalyst for this story goes way back to “Harvey,” the Jimmie Stewart movie. I opened the book with an epigraph from Harvey because it certainly was at least a beginning inspiration.

RF: What about the family that is the basis of Crenshaw coming back and forth into the life of Jackson?

KA: I had this imaginary friend lodged in my head who happened to be a giant cat but I also had this desire to write about a working poor family.

RF: You have tied food drives into all of your events I’ve noticed. How did that all come about?

KA: It seemed like such a natural segway because we’re out here talking to kids and food drives are very commonly done at schools. I think we have over 100 bookstores now that are connecting with us on this effort.

RF: The theme of your book in fact is truth. And maybe a theme for kids at that age as well.

KA: I think middle graders are so fun to write for because they’re so open-minded and they’re starting to explore what’s fair in the world, what’s right.

Katherine Applegate’s previous book, “The One and Only Ivan” is currently in the process of becoming a film. Go here for more information >
Wanted: American Graduate Champions
AmGrad-Champion.jpgDo you know someone who goes out of their way to help a kid succeed in school? Anyone who has ignited a fierce desire for success and love of learning in a young person? Detroit Public Television is looking to honor “American Graduate Champions” throughout 2015 – by telling their stories on the air, through web profiles, as well as during a special event. Visit the Michigan American Graduate site for more information >
Ideas in Learning

Raising ‘thankful’ children

With the holidays upon us, we start to think about what we are thankful for. This is a great time to capture a teachable moment with children.

One of the ways to show children what they do have is to show them what others do not have. Volunteering to help the less fortunate, donating clothing or services, donating food to a local foodbank, or just taking a drive through areas that you usually don’t travel in are all ways that this can be done.

Children are born to be egocentric. I like to think of this as sort of living in a bubble. Children do not understand that the world is happening around them, even when they are not a part of it. Showing children places outside of their neighborhood is a great way to teach them what they really do have.

Another way to teach children to be thankful is to be thankful yourself. As adults, we struggle and sometimes at different points in our lives it is difficult to be thankful. Our children are always watching us. They learn from us by what we do and how we handle these difficult times.  Creating thankful children is way easier when they are being raised by the thankful adults in their lives.

Tara Hardy Tara Hardy Ready To Learn Outreach Coordinator,
Detroit Public Television


Get Your Tech On

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Back by popular demand, PBS Education’s Get Your Tech On provides tools, support and professional development to help you navigate and succeed in the digital age of learning. Learn more >  



Starting Monday, November 16th, Detroit Public Television will premiere a double dose of Arthur at 3 & 3:30pm ET.
Family Fun

Corn Maze at Erwin Orchards
When: Through Nov 8
Where: South Lyon

A T. Rex Named Sue
When: Nov 4 - Jan 3
Where: Michigan Science Center Detroit

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
When: Nov 10- 15
Where: Fox Theatre Detroit


We are looking for freelance contributors for our Be School Smart bi-weekly newsletter. If you are interested, please email Della Cassia at

The Be School Smart Newsletter is sponsored by:

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