When Derek Cockram gave his students a Thanksgiving writing assignment, the last thing he expected was to be blown away by their explosive, outside the Xbox thinking.
The Burnaby teacher got a lesson in cosmic gratitude when he asked his split Grade 3-4 class to write three paragraphs about what they were thankful for. Cockram told his 22 students at Taylor Park Elementary School to focus on family, things and knowledge that they were grateful for.
Some of the answers blew his mind.
"Every year there's something," said Cockram. "This year, it was the 'knowledge of the universe' response that I found really remarkable."
Along with many expressions of thanks for things like friends and family, Xbox games, pets and other possessions, Cockram found one of his students boldly going where none had before.
"I am thankful for knowledge of the universe because it is very weird that space never ends and that the Big Bang is still happening," wrote Howard.
"There are an infinity of galaxies in space. Without this knowledge I would think that space would end and the world would never end and stars are made of rocks."
Cockram was also surprised by the number of his students who thanked God they're alive - literally.
"I found the responses that talked about God very surprising," said Cockram.
Students in the multiculturally diverse class expressed their appreciation of God's goodness with honest and refreshing simplicity.
"I am thankful for God because he always helps me and listens to my wishes," wrote Nicole. "If there were no God my wishes wouldn't come true, and I wouldn't be happy."
And Chloe, in addition to being grateful for her chinchillas and parents, thanks God for granting wisdom - among other things.
"I am thankful for God because he made everything and all of us. He helps us think and concentrate. If God was not alive we wouldn't be as smart as we are now," Chloe wrote.
Cockram has given a Thanksgiving writing assignment to his classes for
the past several years. Originally from Kingston, Ontario, he attended both Queen's and Simon Fraser Universities.
Cockram has been teaching for over 10 years and in Burnaby for the past four.
For his part, he's thankful for what he reads in each year's Thanksgiving writing assignment.
"It reinforces my belief that kids are grateful," he said. "Not just for things, but kids are grateful to be alive."
Samples of Cockram's class writing responses:
I am thankful for the air. Without the air I would be choking. Without the air the world would be like mars. I am thankful for the ground. Without the ground I would be falling through the world.
I am thankful for every bit of knowledge. Without knowledge I wouldn't be typing here and Canada wouldn't exist because we originated from Africa and if our ancestors didn't know anything they wouldn't move here to North America.
I am grateful for my grandma and grandpa because he plants the garden and they cook food for the family. I am thankful for my grandma because she washes the clothes and socks and she also walks me to school.
I am thankful for the trees, because they give us oxygen. Without them, we don't have clean air to breath. I am also thankful for the plants.
With the plants and the trees we won't get floods and the grass, because they make the earth more green and beautiful so easily because we won't have so much water in the ground.
I am thankful for my dad because he drives me to school. I am thankful for my mom because she cooks vegetables for me to eat. I am also thankful for my sister because she plays hide and seek with me.
I am thankful for my bunny Ruby because she is so cute. When she drinks water, she stands up. I am thankful for Social Studies because it is active and you can learn more history.
I am thankful for my mother and father because they talk to me and take the laundry to the laundry machine. My father drives me to places like school. They take me to the shopping mall in U.S.A. "Let's buy some groceries," my mom said.
They give me a presents on my birthday. My mom always buys healthy snacks for lunch because we need to stay healthy.
I am thankful for my family: My mom for caring for me and cooking food for the family. She helps clean the house with my dad and me. I am thankful for my dad for working hard at work and earning money for the family. I am thankful for my little sister, Daisy, for sharing her candy and chocolate with me.
I am thankful for my friends for playing with me when I am bored and lonely with nobody to play with. My friends care for me and sometimes give me presents. I am thankful for all the teachers that have helped me learn because without them, I wouldn't learn anything.
I am thankful for my mom, my dad, and my cousins. I am thankful for my mom because she cares for me. I am thankful for my dad because he always drives me to school and classes. I am thankful for my cousins because they always make me happy. If they were not here, I won't be happy and I would be nervous and lonely.
I am thankful for water, food, clothes and shoes. I am thankful for water and food because they made me have energy and health. I am thankful for clothes and shoes because they made me warm and clean. If they're not here in this world I would be thirsty, hungry, cold and dirty.
I am thankful for God because he always helps me and listens to my wishes. If there were no God my wishes wouldn't come true and I wouldn't be happy.
I am thankful for books because some can be very interesting. I like Captain Underpants. If I didn't have books there wouldn't be any reading.
I am thankful for my family, my pet cat, my friends and my little friend Lily the ladybug. My family and friends give me care. If I didn't have them I would be sad, poor and homeless. I wouldn't learn the ABCs and I wouldn't learn 1+1=2.
I am thankful for my dolls because they keep me company. Without them I would feel absolutely, positively left out. Without my dolls I wouldn't have anyone to cuddle at bedtime.
I am thankful for God since he created food and created me. If God was not there I would not exist and there would not be any food for people and animals. This is what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for my family because they are always kind and caring.
I'm thankful for my mom and dad for making food and taking care of me. I am thankful for my sister because she's nice and she shows me cool soccer moves like how to deke. I'm thankful for my brother for playing bay blades with me.
I am thankful for food because it keeps people and animals alive. I love animals especially horses.
I am thankful for God because he made our home.
I am thankful for science because you get to do super cool experiments like explosions.
That's what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for my mother. She is very useful. She makes me pork chop soup. It is very good. She also drives me to school, swimming and skating (hockey and speed skating)
I am thankful for God. He created me and he gave me life. He also kills all the monsters!
I am thankful for all these things and thanks for reading.
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