Activity Inspiration: “Our Cornucopia”

13 Nov

This week, I want to share a Thanksgiving song called “Our Cornucopia” that I wrote to encourage my students to generate some positive feelings about themselves and their classmates! I decided to use a cornucopia as the basis of this activity because it’s a familiar holiday icon that many of my students might see in their homes, school or the community. The image of a cornucopia full of objects (people, instruments, Thanksgiving food) is also a great way to help concrete thinkers visualize and understand abstract holiday themes like gathering together and being thankful.

What I like about this activity is that it can be easily adapted for a range of functioning levels and ages. I have implemented this activity in a variety of ways, which include:

1. Cornucopia of names: to promote peer interaction and self-esteem

  • Write each student’s name (or use photographs) on pieces of paper and fold them up
  • Project an image of a cornucopia on a SMART board or draw it on poster board
  • Have students draw names out of an overturned drum when it is their turn during the song—my students love the suspense of unfolding the paper to see whose name it is!
  • Students come and tape the name they selected inside the cornucopia. I simply repeat the name verse (see recording below) until each student has had a turn.

Each time I use the song this way, I love to see the big smiles that happen when another student  has selected their name to put inside the cornucopia! The facilitator can enhance this excitement even more by encouraging students to look when their names are selected (“Look! Your friend ___ picked your name to put in the cornucopia!”). You can also use this opportunity to have clients practice saying “Thank you” and “You’re welcome!”

P10205452. Cornucopia of music: to promote self-expression and decision-making

  • Compile some images of instruments that you frequently use in your sessions. Real photographs of the instruments work really well for this!
  • Project these images on a SMART board with your cornucopia OR create your own visual aid to distribute.
  • Give each student the opportunity  to select an instrument to add to the cornucopia. If possible, ask them to share what they like about that instrument! This can also be a great way to find out what instruments and activities your students prefer.
With SMART board

With SMART board

Handout Version

Handout Version

Some additional adaptations of this activity may include:

  • Expanded goal areas:
    • Self-esteem and complimenting peers: Have clients choose a name out of a basket and encourage them to write one positive thing about the person they selected.  Put these comments back inside the basket so that the facilitator can read the anonymous compliments out loud to the group.
    • Self-expression: Have clients write a line or verse about someone or something they are thankful for.
      • This could be as simple as a fill in the blank lyric or working together as a group to write a whole song.
    • Coping Skills: Brainstorm different types of “cornucopias” as a group and work together to fill them with words and phrases (ex. Cornucopia of strength, cornucopia of relaxation, cornucopia of confidence)
  • Art and Music: Draw a large cornucopia on poster board. Have clients draw a picture of someone or something they are thankful for and have them add it to the cornucopia.
  • Activity Choice Board: Facilitate the cornucopia song using images that represent different songs and activities that are familiar to your clients. When they have selected their favorites to put inside the cornucopia, have them work together to choose one of those selected activities to do next in the session!

Below is a recording of “Our Cornucopia.” I included a tag at the end that I use for younger children, which can easily added or omitted as needed. How will you adapt this activity for your clients? I’d love to hear about it!



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