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38 Meaningful Gratitude Activities for Kids 

From gratitude stones to handwritten letters.

Examples of meaningful gratitude activities for kids, including M&M Gratitude Game and gratitude tree art project.

It can be too easy at times to focus on the things that go wrong rather than the things that go right for us. And that can be especially difficult for still-developing brains. Practicing an attitude of gratitude is a skill that students can be taught. Focusing on the things we are grateful for in our lives can help enhance our mood. A regular gratitude practice can also have benefits for physical health that lead to better sleep and enhance immunity. There is no better time than now to work on gratitude with your students since we are heading into the Thanksgiving season. Whether you are in the mood for a game, an activity, or a craft project, there is something for everyone on our list of meaningful gratitude activities for kids of all ages.

Elementary School Gratitude Activities

Middle School Gratitude Activities

Gratitude Activities for Kids in Elementary School

1. gratitude scavenger hunt.

Title says Gratitude Nature Scavenger Hunt with a list of items to find in this example of gratitude activities for kids.

Print out this fun, gratitude-focused scavenger hunt, then let your students loose to find things that speak to them!

Learn more: All Natural Adventures

2. Thankful turkey craft

Gratitude activities for kids include this turkey craft that has several brightly colored photos that have things the student is grateful for written on them.

Encourage students to share what they’re thankful for with this adorable turkey craft made from construction paper.

Learn more: Happiness Is Homemade

3. Pumpkin pie spinner

Gratitude activities for kids include this pretend pie that says

This gratitude craft looks so good you could practically eat it!

Learn more: The Catholic Toolbox

4. Pickup sticks: Gratitude Edition

Gratitude activities for kids include this piece of paper that has color coded gratitude prompts that match up with colors of the pile of pickup sticks.

A simple yet fun variation on the classic game pickup sticks, students will select a stick and then find the corresponding gratitude prompt.

Learn more: Teach Beside Me

5. A turkey puppet show about gratitude

puppets are made from brown cotton gloves. They are made to look like turkeys with feathers glued to four of the fingers.

Have your students create these adorable turkey puppets and then let them put on a puppet show expressing their gratitude for various things in their lives.

Learn more: Dream a Little Bigger

6. Gratitude alphabet

A sheet has space for students to write something they are grateful for that begins with every letter of the alphabet.

This one will prove challenging since students will be tasked to come up with some unconventional words to express their gratitude.

Learn more: The Keele Deal

7. Gratitude hopscotch

A hopscotch is drawn on pavement and has kindness activities written inside it in chalk.

A way to practice gratitude while also getting in some physical fitness—yes, please!

Learn more: Counseling Essentials

8. Thankful turkey coloring page

A coloring page with a key and a turkey waiting to be colored in is shown.

This fun color-by-number gratitude activity for kids keeps little hands busy and little hearts grateful.

Learn more: Mama Miss

9. Gratitude garland

Gratitude activities for kids include a garland made of small squares with expressions of gratitude on them are strung together on a string and hung on a mantle.

Gratitude activities for kids that double as decoration are certainly some of our favorites! The longer the garland, the more abundant the gratitude.

Learn more: Teaching Expertise

10. Gratitude reading

The cover of the book The Thankful Book is shown. Several cartoon children are sitting at a table. Gratitude activities for kids include books.

Choose some gratitude-focused books to add to your classroom library, then let students choose which they want to read.

Buy it: The Thankful Book

11. Gratitude sphere

Gratitude activities include this twine ball that has burlap ornaments hanging from it with things written on them that students are thankful for.

If you love rustic decor, this is the gratitude project for you and your students. Grab a twine ball, some burlap, and some string to get started.

Learn more: Hello, Wonderful

12. Gratitude drawing prompts

Colored pencils line the bottom of the page. There are a number of gratitude based writing prompts listed.

Have your students complete a different gratitude-based drawing prompt each day.

Learn more: Let’s Lasso the Moon

13. Thankful turkey wreath

A construction paper wreath looks like a wreath. The body is made of feathers in a circle.

This colorful Thanksgiving wreath is the perfect craft for reminding kids about the importance of being grateful for everything we have.

Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids

14. Thankfulness chain

Construction paper loops are glued together to form a long chain. Strips of paper are in a basket beside the chains.

We love that all you need to do this project is some construction paper and markers. We also love the nostalgia of making paper chains leading up to holidays.

Learn more: Hustle & Homeschool

15. Thanksgiving gratitude game

Multiple sheets of paper are surrounded by rainbow colored M&M's.

Ask students to list all of the things they are thankful for with this free, cute, and simple printable.

Learn more: Kara Creates

16. Gratitude tree

A construction paper tree has leaves on it that have things students are grateful for on them.

This lovely gratitude tree is easy to make and gives everyone an opportunity to think about being thankful every day.

Learn more: Made With Happy

17. Gratitude flowers

Gratitude Activities for Kids include this flower with leaves that say things like hugs, play, mommy.

Have students grow a garden of positivity and thankfulness with these beautiful gratitude flowers.

Learn more: Blissful Kids

18. Gratitude stones

rocks are decorated in this example of gratitude activities for kids.

This is one of the simplest gratitude activities for kids. Ask them to gather some stones and then paint hearts or thankful words on them. They can then take them home and distribute them around the neighborhood!

Learn more: Fireflies and Mud Pies

19. Thank-you coloring pages

Five worksheets/thank you notes are shown in this example of gratitude activities for kids.

While this was a popular activity during the pandemic, it’s always a good time to show appreciation for healthcare workers and people in the service industry. These adorable coloring pages are free to download and print .

20. Gratitude yoga

Yoga is a great tool to teach kids mindfulness while still being a lot of fun. Cosmic Kids Yoga videos are some of the best out there. A regular yoga practice can teach kids (and adults) to be grateful for the things they have in their lives.

21. Thank you in sign language

Gratitude activities include learning sign language - a boy is shown signing please, thank you, and sorry.

Teaching kids to say please, thank you, and sorry is certainly an important part of teaching gratitude. Teaching kids sign language can teach them gratitude while also encouraging acceptance.

22. Compliment circle

Kids legs are shown sitting in a circle. Text reads Compliment Circles.

This is such a great way to create a kind and inclusive classroom while also teaching students to be grateful for the things that make them and their classmates special. Have kids sit in a circle with their legs out straight and then choose one student to begin by giving a classmate a compliment. Once a student has received a compliment, they sit crisscross applesauce so that others can see who is still left to compliment.

Learn more: Compliment Circles at Paige Bessick: The Interactive Teacher

Gratitude Activities for Kids in Middle School

23. gratitude wall.

A wall with post its is shown. The notes contain things the students are grateful for.

Ask kids to think of one simple thing they are thankful for each night. Then, have them write it on a piece of paper or index card to hang on the wall. You can even have them build a wall at home too!

Learn more: Blog Ulliance

24. Gratitude journal

Gratitude Activities for Kids include this free printable that has gratitude journal prompts on it.

Help kids make gratitude a habit with mindful journaling at the end of every day. They can use these free printables and write about any of the prompts included.

25. Gratitude mobiles

Several mobiles are shown with beads and charms hanging from them including words of gratefulness.

Gratitude activities for middle school should leave room for individuality, like these pretty and unique mobiles. Students will enjoy personalizing them with their favorite charms while also including notes of gratitude.

Learn more: Meri Cherry

26. Roll the Dice gratitude game

A board has gratitude prompts for each roll of a dice.

This is a fun way for students to express gratitude, and all you’ll need is a printable and some dice!

Learn more: Playful Notes

27. Gratitude letter/email

Encourage your students to draft a letter or email of gratitude. This powerful exercise involves kids personally thanking someone for being in their lives. A handwritten letter might feel more meaningful, but a heartfelt email comes close! Since gratitude activities for middle school can be a little more involved, you may want to set a minimum word count.

28. Clothespin gratitude wreath

A wreath is made of clothespins with things students are grateful for written on it.

We love this fun, collaborative craft since supplies are minimal but the effect is big!

Learn more: Chica and Jo

29. A jar full of thanks

A child sits in a chair beside a highly decorated jar writing on a strip of paper.

This will work for any age group. Have students use a variety of materials to personalize their jars, then have them write something they are grateful for each day and put it inside their jar.

Learn more: Castle View Academy

30. Gratitude collage/vision board

Gratitude activities for kids include this collage made up of ripped up magazines and pictures.

Students can look through magazines or take their own pictures to create a collage or vision board of things that make them feel thankful.

Learn more: Make a Gratitude Collage at Tondra Denise

31. Thankful nature walk

Encourage students to take a nature walk to appreciate all of the beautiful and amazing things around us that we often take for granted. Take it a step further and have them journal about their experience.

32. Gratitude pumpkin

A pumpkin is made from strips of construction paper. The strips say

These adorable pumpkins will be a breeze for older kids to construct. Plus they will look cute on their desks!

Learn more: The Moffatt Girls

33. Gratitude conversation starters

A family is shown sitting around a dinner table.

This is the perfect activity for children of all ages since you can cater the conversation starters to the age of the students. This would make for a great activity for students to do with their families around the dinner table as well.

Learn more: Creative Family Fun

34. Watercolor gratitude project

A spiral watercolor project is made with watercolors and there is writing in the spirals that includes what students are grateful for.

This might just be the prettiest gratitude project on this list. Get your watercolors and Sharpies ready and then have your students get to work.

Learn more: The Arty Teacher

35. Donation bin

A cardboard box has donation written on it. It is filled with school supplies.

Teaching kids the power of giving back can also help them appreciate the things they have. Regardless of whether you are collecting school supplies or taking donations of winter hats and gloves, kids will learn how good it feels to give to those in need.

36. Chore chart

Teaching kids to be grateful also teaches kids not to be entitled. Gratitude activities for middle school can involve them taking on more responsibility both at home and in the classroom. Have them keep a chore chart at home that they return at the end of the month.

37. Gratitude letter to family

A person is shown from the waist down writing a letter in this example of gratitude activities for kids.

Have students reflect on the ways in which they are grateful for their families and then write a letter to them expressing that.

38. Flip complaints into positives

A girl is in a classroom with her head in her hands looking mildly frustrated.

Regardless of your disposition, we all have negative thoughts from time to time. In this social-emotional learning exercise, students write out negative thoughts and then attempt to replace them with more positive ones.

Learn more: Flipping Complaints Into Gratitude at Greater Good in Education

Also check out 15 Books To Teach Kids About Mindfulness .

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Want to create a thankful classroom? Here's a list of meaningful gratitude activities for kids that you can use today!

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Greater Good Science Center • Magazine • In Action • In Education

Three Gratitude Lessons for K-8 Classrooms

Social-emotional learning (SEL) uses an “outside-in” approach, teaching students skills that help them to work with their emotions in healthy ways and to build positive relationships. Mindfulness, on the other hand, uses an “inside-out” approach, helping students to become aware of and then embody the connection between their emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Woven together, SEL and mindfulness make a powerful recipe for helping students cultivate positive outcomes, such as increased academic achievement and well-being, less risky behavior, and better relationships with peers and teachers. The Inner Resilience Program (IRP) is one program that integrates SEL and contemplative practice in order to nurture the wellness and inner lives of educators and students.

gratitude assignment for students

The Gratitude Project

What if we didn't take good things for granted? Learn how gratitude can lead to a better life—and a better world—in this GGSC book.

Now, with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation awarded through the Greater Good Science Center, the IRP has incorporated lessons on gratitude into their work with students. By adding a contemplative layer to standard gratitude lessons such as keeping a gratitude journal, writing a gratitude letter, or holding a gratitude circle, students are able to experience the impact of gratitude in their lives more deeply.

gratitude assignment for students

We are grateful to Linda Lantieri , founder of the IRP, for letting us share three of these new lessons, all of which beautifully incorporate a contemplative moment where students can link the idea of gratitude with the feeling of gratitude.

1. Acts of kindness (Grades K-2)

Learning objective: Students will identify ways that they have acted with kindness and caring toward others.

Gratitude concept: When we choose to do something that benefits others, we often benefit ourselves emotionally.

SEL competencies: Self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills

Materials: Drawing/writing materials

  • Explain to students that we often feel grateful when others do things for us that show kindness, caring, and helpfulness.
  • But there are also times when the students themselves have done things that are kind, caring, and helpful to someone.
  • Ask students to close their eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Then, ask them to visualize a time they showed kindness to someone else, using these prompts:
Think of someone that you have been kind to…or someone you helped…Maybe it is someone who said “Thank you” to you recently…Try to see a picture of that person in your mind…Silently raise your hand when you have thought of someone… (Be sure each student has raised their hand before continuing.) Now remember what you did for that person that was kind or caring or helpful…See yourself doing it…How do you feel inside?...What is the other person saying or doing when you are kind to them?...How does that feel to you?
  • Invite the class to open their eyes. Ask for a few volunteers to share:
  • Who did you show kindness to?
  • What did you do?
  • Why did you want to do this?
  • Did the other person show gratitude in some way? How?
  • If that person showed gratitude, how did it make you feel?
  • Ask students to draw a picture of what they visualized, and write a caption for it. Or write a short paragraph about it, using the following format:
  • I showed kindness to______________________
  • This is what I did:_________________________
  • I did this because_________________________
  • This is how_________________showed gratitude to me:____________________
  • I felt____________________________________

Extensions:

  • Encourage older students to keep a journal about times when they show kindness to others, the reasons they do this, and their feelings about it.
  • Discuss with the class an act of kindness that they could do for someone in the school. Help them carry it out. Afterwards, have students describe how that person reacted, and how the students felt when they did the act of kindness.

2. Food gratitude (Grades 3-5)

Learning objective: Students will demonstrate awareness that behind tangible things that they may feel grateful for, there are many people whose efforts have created those things.

Gratitude concept: Our lives are interconnected with those of many people we have never met, who provide us with the goods and services we rely on daily. Our gratitude can extend to these people, as well as those we know.

SEL competencies: Social awareness

Materials: Large sheets of flip chart paper; drawing/writing materials; fruit for each student (sensitive to any food allergies)

  • Ask class to think of how many different kinds of fruit they can name. List the different fruits that are mentioned on the board. Then take a “vote” by show of hands to see which fruit is the favorite of the most people in the class.
  • Explain that they are going to do a short visualization about all the people who made it possible for them to enjoy this delicious fruit. Ask everyone to sit comfortably, close their eyes, and take a few deep breaths.
  • Use the sample script below, which uses the example of strawberries, and adapt it as needed (for example, some fruit, like bananas, may have traveled on a boat and a truck):
Let’s imagine fresh strawberries. Think about what they look like, how they smell, and how they taste. Where do they grow? Imagine someone planting strawberry seeds in the soil on a farm…Imagine the sun shining on the small plants as they grow…Imagine the rain that falls on them, or maybe a person who waters them…maybe there is someone who pulls out the weeds so the strawberries can grow… Now imagine the strawberries are ripe…Who comes to pick them?...Think about how hard that person works, bending over to pick lots of strawberries…Now imagine someone putting those strawberries into containers… How do the strawberries get to a store near you?...Imagine the person who put the strawberry containers onto a truck…the person who drove the truck to your store…the person who brought the strawberries from the truck into the store…the person who put the strawberries on the shelf at the store… Who sells you the strawberries?...See if you can imagine yourself paying that person…thanking them…and then bringing home the delicious strawberries to eat…
  • Ask the students to take a few deep breaths and bring their attention back into the room.
  • Have students form groups of four; give each group a large sheet of paper and drawing materials. Ask them to:
  • Discuss what you visualized for a few minutes.
  • Now draw a picture that includes all of the people, tools, and natural elements necessary to produce the strawberries that you enjoy.
  • As students complete their drawings, point out that there are many people involved in making it possible for them to enjoy strawberries. Ask them to:
  • Imagine how you would express gratitude to the many people if you could.
  • Add these expressions of gratitude to your drawings.
  • Save the drawings for the next day and, if possible, buy a container of strawberries (or whatever fruit the students selected) to bring to class the next day.
  • Post the drawings around the room and give students the chance to circulate and see each other’s work.
  • Ask: What have you learned about gratitude from this activity?
  • Then, give each student a strawberry, instructing them to hold it in their hands and not to eat it yet. (If you plan to bring fruit, be sure to choose one that no one is allergic to.) Ask them to silently reflect on the following questions:
  • Notice the weight, texture, and temperature of the fruit. What is it like?
  • Do you remember all of the people we discussed yesterday, whose work helped produce the strawberries?
  • Let’s remember that without the sun and water and soil, there would be no strawberries.
  • Recall the messages of gratitude you wrote on your drawings, and feel that gratitude.
  • Now, slowly take a small bite of the strawberry. Taste it and enjoy!

3. People who made a difference (Grades 6-8)

Learning objective: Students will develop an understanding that they can feel gratitude toward people whose actions benefitted society as a whole, and that these benefits may be felt years or even centuries later. Gratitude concepts: Understanding the ideas of intention and cost in the actions that ultimately benefit others. We can be grateful to people we have never met. SEL competencies: Social awareness and responsible decision-making Materials: Library or Internet access for research; writing materials

  • Ask students to identify a historical figure who did something they feel grateful for. Have them research the person they chose. This may be done over multiple days.
  • When students have completed their research, bring the class together for a short guided visualization:
Close your eyes, and take five deep, slow breaths, in and out. Bring to mind an image of the person you have researched. Hold that image while breathing deeply…try to feel what it would actually be like to be in the presence of that person. Focus on the feeling of gratitude you have for this person while you take five more deep breaths, in and out. Now, slowly open your eyes and bring your focus back into the room.
  • Following the visualization, have the class write an essay that covers these questions:
  • What did this person do that makes you feel grateful?
  • Why did this person do these things? What was the intention behind this person’s actions?
  • What was the cost of these actions for the person you reached?

Explain to students that one way to think about “cost” is to understand what this person might have given, sacrificed, or lost in order to do the things they did. Think of costs not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time spent, physical health or strength required, safety that might have been risked, opportunities that might have been lost, impacts on relationships with family or others, etc. Ask:

  • How have you benefited from this person’s actions? How has society as a whole benefited?
  • Have students make a brief presentation to the class about the historical figure that they researched.

Nurturing gratitude in our students by combining the “outside-in” approach of SEL with the “inside-out” method of contemplative practice allows students to really feel the benefits of gratitude—a sure way to help them develop an “attitude of gratitude” for life.

For more information about The Inner Resilience Program and their gratitude curriculum, click here .

About the Author

Headshot of Vicki Zakrzewski

Vicki Zakrzewski

Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D. , is the education director of the Greater Good Science Center.

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Gratitude Activities for the Classroom

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GRATITUDE ACTIVITIES FOR STUDENTS

This article includes free printables and resources for educators., have you ever asked your students to share their stress levels with you if so, you probably discovered your students are stressed they’re often stressed about school, stressed about their families, and stressed about world events they’re working to understand. as an educator, you surely hate when your students are stressed, and you understand that stress impacts them negatively both at school and at home. but do you ever think about how the stress your students face actually runs the risk of negatively impacting your health as well in an effort to help your students and protect yourself, consider implementing a gratitude practice into your classroom. regular gratitude exercises are one of the best strategies for managing stress and helping students think more positively and experience more positive emotions., gratitude has been proven to increase wellbeing by improving mental and physical health, sleep quality, relationships, self-esteem, building empathy, and more. learn about the benefits of a gratitude practice in this video. feel free to share it with your students too, expressing gratitude can have significant benefits on students’ overall well being. it can help students think more positively, experience more positive emotions, and even increase their physical health. here’s the science behind these benefits of expressing gratitude: • regularly practicing and expressing gratitude can release the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which help reduce and regulate feelings of depression and anxiety. this means practicing gratitude can help students feel happier, calmer, and more focused. • expressing gratitude helps students shift away from negative or toxic emotions towards positive emotions. • practicing gratitude has long term effects that help students be more in tune with future feelings of gratitude. this means students start actively looking for things to be thankful for in their world. • brain research suggests people who regularly practice gratitude have increased activity in the hypothalamus, which helps control eating and sleeping patterns. so, practicing gratitude can have a positive impact on overall physical health in addition to mental health., 1. gratitude growth tree: create and decorate a tree trunk from construction paper or another creative way. have students fill out a gratitude growth leaf. they can use this template to write what they are grateful for. then, have students decorate their leaves and cut them out to decorate a class gratitude tree..

gratitude assignment for students

2. GRATITUDE STUDENT WALK: Guide students on a nature walk outside. Encourage the students to be mindful of the nature around them. After the walk, use this worksheet to have the students list three things they are grateful for seeing during their walk and draw a picture. For older students, instead of using the worksheet, have them journal about what they were grateful for seeing during their walk and reflect on why they were grateful.

gratitude assignment for students

3. GRATITUDE BREAK Take a few minute break during class to guide students through this Gratitude Break. This activity can be done quickly, without taking up too much valuable class time, and can significantly help students relieve stress and shift to a more positive mindset.

gratitude assignment for students

4. GRATITUDE JOURNAL A great way to further strengthen your students’ gratitude practice is through starting a gratitude journal. Starting a gratitude journal can help students become more intune with future feelings of gratitude, which means they may start actively looking for things to be thankful for in their world. But for many students, starting a gratitude journal and consistently writing in it can be a challenge. Providing prompts can help guide students’ practice. Consider giving these gratitude prompts to students...

gratitude assignment for students

5. MAKE IT COUNT Guide students through this exercise to help them focus on the things they are grateful for. Tell students to sit up nice and straight. Students may close their eyes if they’d like, otherwise encourage them to bring their eyes to a low gaze. Then, have students take a few deep breaths, and count 10 things that you are grateful for. Students should extend one finger for each item. Once students are finished, both hands will be open and they may find themselves feeling a little more grateful. Use this visual to help coach students through this exercise!

gratitude assignment for students

1. FOR OLDER STUDENTS, GUIDE THEM THROUGH CREATING GRATITUDE JOURNALS Set aside time for students to spend a few minutes journaling about the things for which they’re grateful. Give them prompts that specifically ask them about their feelings of gratitude. Have a consistent schedule so students know when each day, or week, they will be journaling. Expressing gratitude has a higher likelihood of becoming a habit when it is part of some sort of consistent, regular routine. Remember, journaling can be done in both in-person or virtual classrooms. In an online classroom, you can post journal prompts for students or consider starting a gratitude discussion board. In either environment, try to give students an opportunity to share what they wrote to create a classroom that encourages giving thanks. 2. HAVE STUDENTS WRITE GRATITUDE LETTERS This is especially great for students new to the practice of expressing gratitude. It can sometimes be difficult to identify all the things in one’s life to be grateful for, but expressing thanks and gratitude for what others have done for us, can feel a lot more manageable. Coach students through writing letters of gratitude and thanks, and assist them in sending those letters out, either through the mail or through personal delivery. Encourage students to be as specific as possible about what it is the person they are writing to did and why they are grateful. You could also simplify this and have students make post-it notes to express gratitude and post them somewhere they will be seen by the recipient. 3. HAVE YOUNGER STUDENTS WRITE GRATITUDE LETTERS OR DRAW GRATITUDE PICTURES You can do gratitude letters with younger students, though depending on the age, you might need to provide a little more assistance. Have students draw a picture expressing their gratitude. They can draw a picture of a nice deed someone has done for them, and if they can write to explain the picture, great! Otherwise, you can have them dictate to you why they are grateful and write a quick note of thanks on their behalf. 4. CREATE GRATITUDE ARTWORK All students, but younger students especially, tend to enjoy opportunities to express themselves through art and crafts. You can have students create construction paper flowers and write something they’re grateful for on each petal. Students can trace their hands and write something they are grateful for on each finger. You can cut green construction paper into the shape of leaves and have each student write down something they are grateful for on each leaf, and then compile the leaves into a classroom tree of gratitude. There’s a lot of different artistic ways to have students give thanks, and the great thing about all of these options is you can then display these expressions of gratitude around the classroom, creating a classroom community that values gratitude and each other. This practice can easily be adapted for virtual classrooms where students can share what they are grateful for and you can compile what students share into a word cloud or some other graphic that can be posted on a class website. While establishing a new classroom routine can sometimes feel like a daunting task, incorporating a simple gratitude practice only needs to take a few minutes a day. In those few minutes, you can help your students manage their stress, improve their mindset, and find ways to start focusing on the positive. This regular gratitude practice can lead your students to higher academic scores, fewer behavior disruptions, and an overall healthier and happier classroom community! Be grateful, and create a great day!

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The Mako Method™ Resource Guide for Stress Management

Download our resource guide and learn over 50 ways you can use quick breathing exercises, affirmations, gratitude, journaling, and perspectives practices throughout the day to manage your stress and create psychological safety at work.

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Download our free checklist to learn our framework of best practices for creating and experiencing more Psychological Safety at Work. 

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Encouraging a Sense of Gratitude in Students

Activities that foster gratefulness have benefits for students beyond enhancing their social and emotional skills.

A young girl in the foreground and other kids beyond her write in notebooks.

In the glittery bustle of the holidays, teachers often scramble to fit in last-minute lessons and refocus students dreaming of vacation excitement. It’s worthwhile to pause in the middle of all that excitement to build in reflective moments of gratefulness.

Yet without a clear plan to foster classroom gratitude, we risk missing the improved attitude , improved physical and psychological health , and enhanced social and emotional skills that giving thanks can bring. Positive psychology suggests that learning to be thankful has benefits that extend far beyond the classroom walls, including lifelong happiness .

This year, I’m forgoing the shiny new pencils and sparkling bags of treats as student gifts. Instead, I’m opting for a few new classroom traditions that we can carry on long after the holiday sparkle has faded.

The Art of Letter Writing

Letter writing is an academic skill—requiring students to focus on a specific purpose and an authentic audience—but it’s also a perfect opportunity to get students thinking about who and what they should be thankful for. And there’s some solid evidence that letters of gratitude can improve happiness too. When University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman studied the impact of people writing and delivering one thank you letter a month, the letter-writing participants quickly demonstrated an increase in happiness scores.

While no gratitude routine is foolproof, a tradition of writing a weekly letter of gratitude is low-fuss and adaptable long past the holiday season. In my classroom, students pause each Friday to jot letters of thanks. Sometimes, we plan recipients of our gratitude letters together. One week, we might create a list of people who have positively contributed to our education or brainstorm about people who have cared for us in difficult times. Other times, students reflect independently on their lives and memories to find people to thank.

Although students eagerly select letter recipients each week, a little in-class coaching can improve students’ gratefulness and their letter writing. I like to remind the middle schoolers in my classroom to consider the challenges their letter recipient might have overcome. Thanking a former teacher for great math lessons is an excellent start, but it’s even better if a student can point out the extra strain of getting students to focus during the very last hour of the school day.

With just a pencil and paper, letter writing helps students create their own habits of gratefulness to carry on long after the holiday snow has melted.

Growth Journaling

Thanking others is important, but it’s also essential to be grateful for our own life progress. This holiday season, I’m adding a contemplative tradition to our busy schedule. Growth journaling, where students write diary-like entries of reflection about their successes and improvements, pushes students to consider how they’ve changed and to reflect on the people who made their progress possible. Some studies suggest that writing about positive experiences—as one does in growth journaling— increases well-being by fostering a sense of gratitude.

With a little holiday music jingling in the background, students find a quiet place to curl up with a notebook and pen. Their writing focus might be tiny: Some students pick moments where they used the correct words to respond to frustration or took a deep breath instead of reacting in anger. Other students reflect more expansively on a year of major academic growth or the accomplishment of earning an award in sports.

Some days, students want to share a story of growth with the class, but other times their reflections are safely hidden behind journal covers. In the bustle of the holiday season, growth journaling adds a touch of calm and a tiny reminder that being grateful includes loving ourselves in the midst of progress.

Secret Acts of Kindness

While gift exchanges will always be popular, less tangible traditions of gifting and gratitude can be a welcome classroom change. In many classrooms, teachers encourage acts of kindness by directing kindness assignments themselves. One teacher I know assigns students special agent names. She delivers manila envelopes with secret kindness instructions to all of her agents. One instruction might tell a student to write an anonymous note of encouragement to a student struggling with math, while another agent could get instructions to do some extra cleaning to surprise the janitor. Students jump at the chance to get sneaky with their acts of kindness.

For a stress-free version of the kindness exchange, I have my students focus on noticing acts of kindness. Each time they see a particularly thoughtful or considerate action, they post a shout-out on a digital kindness wall. A link on a classroom website, a Google Classroom page, or even a simple Google Forms questionnaire that you occasionally share with the class will allow students to offer gratitude for a peer’s kindness. The students are not thanked by name—for example, “Thanks to whoever organized the bookshelf, it looks great!” The notes serve as written high-fives and pats on the back to encourage kindness to be contagious.

Instead of worrying about classroom decorations or a memorable holiday party, I’m turning my focus to durable traditions of gratitude and thanks. This year, I’m trying to remember gratitude is a lasting gift that never wears out.

Calm Classroom

25 Creative Gratitude Journal Prompts for Your Middle School Students

Nourishing a regular gratitude practice is one of the best things we can do to support our mental health. Lots of adults keep gratitude lists or journals, but we often don’t think about how to help young people cultivate this important life skill.

You can use this guide with 25 gratitude journal prompts for middle school to cultivate a calmer, happier classroom , help your students practice their writing skills, and support your middle school students’ mental health.

Why Do Gratitude Journaling in Middle School?

Middle school is a hard time for students. They’re right in the middle of the process of becoming teens and starting to figure out who they are and where their place is in the world. Hormonal changes that come along with puberty may lead to emotional ups and downs. Add increasing academic pressures and conflicts with peers, and it isn’t hard to see why many middle schoolers struggle with things like stress and anxiety.

Mental health isn’t just an adult concern. Around 1 in 5 kids and teens will face a serious mental health condition during their K-12 years, and that’s not accounting for kids who struggle with undiagnosed problems like high-stress levels. Students with mental health problems are less likely to graduate from high school and may face long-term consequences as adults.

Although the practice of gratitude journaling can’t replace mental health treatment, it has been shown to boost mental well-being overall. It can also serve as a healthy coping skill for middle school students to manage stress in their lives, no matter where that stress is coming from.

Some specific benefits associated with a regular gratitude practice include:

  • Improves interpersonal relationships
  • Increases overall happiness
  • Feeling more optimistic about your life and future
  • Less connected to negative emotions
  • Makes us more generous, even in the long-term
  • Less stress and depression

All middle schoolers can benefit from these effects, whether or not their mental health is suffering.

25 Gratitude Journal Prompts for Middle School Students

Gratitude Journal

The easiest way to incorporate gratitude journaling into your class schedule may be to include it into your SEL curriculum. Other teachers choose to end every day, or week, with the practice of gratitude journaling. The practice of gratitude is beneficial even when it isn’t shared, so you may choose to allow your middle school students to keep their journals confidential.

The benefits of gratitude may not be immediate. But with regular practice, your middle school students will learn this essential life skill and be able to use it to protect themselves during difficult times.

Here are 25 gratitude journal prompts that will get your middle schoolers thinking.

  • Who is one person in your life who loves you unconditionally? How does this person make you feel? How do you know they love you unconditionally?
  • What is one thing that made you smile this week? Write about it in detail.
  • When was the last time you cracked up? What made you laugh so hard?
  • What’s one thing you love about yourself that no one else notices? Something that makes you say, “I’m glad to be me!”?
  • Write about the best day you’ve ever had in your life.
  • Who is someone you admire or look up to? What do you appreciate about them?
  • Write a letter to someone who you’re really happy to have in your life. This could be a friend, a family member, a teacher, or anyone else you know.
  • Where is your favorite place in the world? Describe it. Why are you grateful that this place exists?
  • When is the last time you felt really peaceful spending time by yourself? What were you doing?
  • What’s the best thing that’s happened today? What did you appreciate about it?
  • When was the last time you told someone, “Thank you”? What made you thank them?
  • Who is someone you can always count on to be there for you when you need them? Write about how they’ve supported you in the past.
  • Who is your favorite musical artist? Why do you love their music?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do during the day? What do you love about it?
  • What do you most look forward to when you wake up in the morning?
  • Who is your best friend, and what’s the best thing about them?
  • What’s one hard thing that happened in your past that you’ve overcome? How does it make you feel to know you overcame a struggle?
  • What do you know about your ancestors and heritage? What do you appreciate about your culture?
  • Sit quietly to yourself, and take a deep breath. When you think of the word “gratitude,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
  • What’s a small detail at school or at home that makes you smile (like a beautiful flower or a certain smell), but no one else seems to notice?
  • Where in the world do you feel the safest?
  • How has your favorite movie changed your life or the way you think about things?
  • Who is one person you know who seems to always express their gratitude? What can you learn about them?
  • What is your favorite type of weather? Why do you enjoy days like this?
  • Take three deep breaths in and out. Think about your body -- not the way it looks, but what’s inside of it. Your heart, your lungs, and your intestines -- all of your organs work together every day so that you can be alive. Write a thank you letter to your organs. 

Gratitude and Mindfulness With Calm Classroom

Gratitude and mindfulness are interconnected. To truly practice gratitude, we must first cultivate mindfulness . Middle school students are surrounded by distractions. If they don’t slow down for long enough to notice the things in their lives that they appreciate, then it will be tough to foster gratitude.

Check out our blog for more ideas and activities to practice both gratitude and mindfulness with your middle school students. You can also get in touch with us to learn more about our mindfulness curriculum for middle school students. Over 90% of teachers who’ve participated in the Calm Classroom program have said that their students are calmer and more peaceful.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our programs.

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Gratitude for Students

What is it.

Gratitude means more than simply saying thank you. Researchers usually define it as a feeling or state that results from both (1) recognizing a good thing, such as a positive outcome or gift we’ve received, and (2) recognizing that this good thing came from outside ourselves. Although we most often experience gratitude in response to the actions of other people, we can feel grateful to nonhuman sources, too, such as nature, a higher power, or the universe.

Several studies have investigated the nuances of gratitude, finding that three factors tend to increase the amount of gratitude people feel for benefits they’ve received: the more purposefully someone has helped us (as opposed to unintentionally or with an ulterior motive), the more they’ve sacrificed to do it, and the more the outcome benefits us, the more grateful we feel.

A high school student writes a gratitude letter to his grandmother for taking over his evening responsibilities while his parents worked so that he could study for his finals. She missed her weekly gatherings with friends and instead watched his younger siblings and made them dinner every night, leaving the high schooler ample time to study. As a result, he passed his finals with flying colors!

Though even toddlers can be taught to say thank you, children seem to first experience and express true gratitude at around 6-8 years old , when they are more capable of taking another person’s perspective and have a greater understanding of another’s emotions. Gratitude curriculum has been shown to work with students as young as eight, increasing not only their levels of gratitude but also their social and emotional well-being.

Why Is It Important?

In the past couple of decades, hundreds of studies have documented the social, physical, and psychological benefits of gratitude. Although research on gratitude with young people has lagged behind the research with adults, the past several years have seen a surge of interest in youth gratitude—and studies reveal corresponding benefits.

Gratitude promotes emotional well-being.

  • Youth (ages 10-19) who are more grateful report greater happiness and life satisfaction and more positive emotions overall, as well as less depression and envy .

Gratitude relates to physical health.

  • As with adults, youth who are more grateful feel better physically, and practicing gratitude helps adolescents eat more healthily .

Gratitude helps students do better in school.

  • Gratitude makes students more satisfied with their school experiences, and, on average, more grateful students get better grades .

Gratitude cultivates altruism.

  • Refuting the idea that gratitude is selfish, more grateful adolescents feel more connected to their communities and more motivated to use their gifts to contribute to society.
  • Practicing gratitude also helps make adolescents less materialistic and more generous .

Gratitude strengthens relationships.

  • More grateful young people report feeling higher levels of social support; they also show more prosocial , or kind and helpful, behavior towards others.

Practice Collections

Gratitude practices for lower elementary students

Inspiring Climate Awareness Through Gratitude

A diverse group of people standing, with their backs facing the viewer

Behind Your Back

Through stories, discussion, and creative presentations about true heroes, students foster their compassion for others and see brave community involvement as an admirable, heroic way of life.

Who Are Your Heroes?

Discussion questions for families to deepen their child’s experience of gratitude

Take-Home Skill: Gratitude Questions for Kids

Two students acting with kindness by sharing.

Noticing Kindness

Students consider the intentions of characters in a story who are kind to others.

Caring Intentions: Being Kind to Others

Students express gratitude towards the many people whose efforts have brought them food.

Gratitude for Our Food

Students define gratitude and name things they’re grateful for.

Giving Thanks

Students walk silently around school, noticing people they are grateful for and telling them so.

Looking for Gratitude in School

Students write five things they’re grateful for once a day for two weeks.

Gratitude Journal for Students

Students write a letter of thanks and deliver it in person.

Gratitude Letter for Students

Students identify their strengths to increase self-understanding.

Discover Your Great Full Self

Students recognize the costs and benefits involved in a kind act.

See the Good Challenge

Students look for the good in others by acknowledging each other’s strengths.

Seeing the Good in Others

Students learn how to think gratefully.

Thank You for Believing in Me

Abraham Lincoln memorial

People Who Made a Difference

Students share stories about a time they felt grateful.

Sharing Gratitude Stories

Students record three good things that happened to them each day for a week.

Three Good Things for Students

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30 Gratitude Activities for Kids and Teens

November 1, 2023 by pathway2success Leave a Comment

30 Gratitude Activities for Kids and Teens

Practicing gratitude means taking time to notice and appreciate what we already have. This is a meaningful activity kids and teens can do anytime of year, not just during Thanksgiving or fall! Besides being a fun way to talk about the positive things in our lives, practicing gratitude actually has some big benefits. When kids and teens actively practice gratitude on a regular basis, they create more happiness and joy, feel calmer and more relaxed, and develop stronger connections with others around them.

Gratitude is also a healthy coping strategy kids and teens can use to manage stress and tough emotions. Just like all coping strategies, a big key to this is practicing it before we are upset so that it becomes second nature. Luckily, there are many different ways to practice with your learners.

Something important to first teach kids and teens about gratitude is that we can have gratitude for all things big and small. You might feel grateful for your family and friends who are there to support you in your life. You might also feel grateful for the feel of sunshine on a warm spring morning, or the smell of bacon in the morning when you wake up and know breakfast is on the way. There are so many things to be grateful for, and the more you practice it, the more you notice them.

30 Gratitude Activities for Kids and Teens

Here are activities to practice gratitude with kids and teens:

1. Make a gratitude list.

Have students keep a simple gratitude list. On the list, they can write just one thing a day they feel grateful for. Again, these things can be small or big; the idea is just to choose one thing a day you feel grateful for in that moment. After students list theirs, you can opt to give time to share gratitude lists and even make a larger master list for the whole class to see.

Create a gratitude list by recording one thing you are grateful for each day.

2. Write in a gratitude journal.

Make it a daily practice to write in a gratitude journal . The best strategy here is to provide gratitude prompts and allow students to respond on their own. After, kids and teens can share about their gratitude writing if they feel comfortable. This is not only a way to build gratitude and social-emotional skills, but also integrate writing at the very same time. Some simple prompts to try include:

  • What is something you are grateful for today? It can be something big or small.
  • What positive qualities are you grateful to possess and share with the world?
  • What is one of the best inventions? Why are you grateful for that invention?

Write in a gratitude journal to practice gratitude and thankfulness with kids and teens.

3. Use a gratitude jar.

To reflect on gratitude, have students write on note cards or small slips of paper. For example, students might write, “I’m grateful my partner loaned me a pencil when I didn’t have one,” and “I’m grateful for the read aloud today.”

Put these into a gratitude jar. When your class needs a brain break, take time to open the gratitude jar and read a couple from it. This can help cultivate an attitude of gratitude and joy among the entire class as a community.

Use a gratitude jar to record what you are grateful for!

4. Practice gratitude with ABCs.

Use an ABC gratitude worksheet create your own gratitude list. Each day, focus on a new letter. Ask students to share some things they are grateful for that start with each letter. For example, you might ask, “What are you grateful for that starts with A?” Students might share with responses such as airplanes, asking questions, apple juice, animals, or art. You can use this as simple discussion time or make an actual list on the board to remember your gratitude ideas.

A simple extension of this would be to have students choose one item from the list and write about it.

Use free gratitude worksheets to practice gratitude from A to Z.

5. Share gratitude shout outs.

Have students share (in writing or aloud) when they feel grateful for someone else in the classroom. For example, a student might write or say, “I am grateful Alicia was a great partner.” You can even post these on a bulletin board or somewhere in the classroom for all to see.

6. Create a gratitude bulletin board.

Plan and design a gratitude bulletin board with your class. For this, have students write out something they feel grateful for. They can write and/or draw pictures. Then, post these on the bulletin board as a way to share what you are grateful for as a group.

Create a gratitude bulletin board in your classroom with students.

7. Practice reframing thoughts.

Gratitude means appreciating what we have. Sometimes, in order to do that, we need to reframe negative thoughts that might pop in our heads using positive self-talk . A simple adult example is the phrase, “I have to go grocery shopping; I hate going there.” With gratitude reframing, we can instead think, “I’m grateful to have fresh food for myself and my family.” It’s important to help kids and teens do this too!

If a student says, “I hate gym, it’s so stupid!” You can help them turn it around to something like, “I’m get to exercise and build my strength,” or “I’m learning new ways to exercise and help my body feel calm.”

This strategy doesn’t change our initial feelings; it’s important we still validate how we feel. However, it helps kids and teens (and yes, even adults) see a different perspective. In turn, this can help us cope with challenges and difficulties along the way.

Reframe thoughts to practice gratitude.

8. Model gratitude.

Just like any skill, gratitude must be modeled and practiced together. Model gratitude by letting your classroom of students know what you feel grateful for that day. Remember to choose things small and big in your life. This also becomes an important relationship-building exercise at the same time.

9. Gratitude group discussions.

Use gratitude discussion questions to lead some meaningful conversations with kids and teens. As kids share and discuss, these conversations can help build self-awareness, cultivate empathy, and strengthen relationships. Some questions to try include:

  • Who is a person you are grateful for?
  • What qualities in a friend are you grateful for?
  • What animal are you grateful for?
  • What is an accomplishment you are grateful for achieving?

Use gratitude discussion starters to practice thankfulness.

10. Gratitude circle share.

First, sit or stand in a circle. Have students choose one thing they are grateful for that day. Go around in a circle and have each student share their “one thing.” This is a simple, meaningful, and quick way to integrate gratitude while also giving everyone a voice.

11. Create a shout out board.

A “shout out” board is a bulletin board focused on positive acts kids have seen or experienced. Leave note cards or slips of paper out for students to write on. On this slip, students should give someone a “shout out,” such as, “Omar was an awesome partner during reading time.” Students can post these up on the bulletin board, giving a constant visual reminder of all the ways students show kindness and other positive qualities.

12. Color gratitude pages.

Coloring is always a great way to build skills; it’s calming, engaging, and memorable for kids. Use gratitude coloring pages to relax and reflect about what we are grateful for.

Color gratitude coloring pages with children and young adults.

13. Draw gratitude pictures.

Have students choose something they are grateful for. Then, draw it. This can be anything; kids might draw their favorite hobby or a picture of their family on a special trip they took.

Paint or color something you are grateful for.

14. Read gratitude affirmations.

Positive affirmations are helpful and encourage words we say to ourselves. Practice reading self-talk statements focused on gratitude. You can read a phrase and have students repeat it back and then discuss what it means to you. Here are a few to try:

  • I have so much to feel grateful for.
  • I am grateful for my friends.
  • I am grateful for learning new ideas.
  • I have gratitude in my heart.

Gratitude self-talk activity for kids and teens.

15. Give compliments to each other.

Practice gratitude for each other by giving compliments. For example, a student might say, “You are an awesome soccer player. I really admire that.” It’s important that these compliments are authentic and not forced, so it helps to give the option to share when students are comfortable.

16. Take a nature walk.

There is so much to be grateful for in nature. There are so many social-emotional skills to target in nature at the very same time! Take a quick nature walk together. Use your senses and begin to appreciate what you appreciate around you. What sounds, smells, sights, and feels do you have gratitude for? Best of all, this is an activity you can do again and again as a way to strengthen gratitude and mindfulness.

Take a nature walk to practice gratitude with kids and teens.

17. Design a gratitude collage.

Gather up old magazines. Then, have students cut out pictures and words to help them create their own individualized gratitude collage.

Gratitude activity: cut up magazines to make gratitude collages.

18. Create gratitude posters.

Have student work with partners or groups to create and design their own gratitude posters. Each group should focus on gratitude for a new topic. For example, one group might create a poster about feeling grateful for good food. Once students are finished, you can post these on a bulletin board or in the hallway to share your designs.

Gratitude Activity: create gratitude posters in groups on different topics.

19. Draw a gratitude spiral.

For this art activity, have students come up with a list of several things they are grateful for. Then, list these in a spiral. Students can then paint or color in their spiral.

20. Write on a pumpkin.

This activity works best when you can get one pumpkin for each kid or teen. Using a sharpie, have students write out different things they are grateful for on their pumpkin. This is a great activity because students can then bring their pumpkins home to share with families.

As an alternative to having many different pumpkins, you can opt for one large pumpkin for a whole class. Each day, write one thing you are grateful for as a group.

Gratitude activity: Use a marker to write what are you thankful for on a pumpkin.

21. Create a gratitude book.

Have kids choose three people, places, or things they are grateful for. Then, create and design a gratitude book to explain each of those. Students can draw and write about each as they make their gratitude book.

22. Create a daily gratitude share.

Each day, start with a simple daily gratitude share. This is an excellent activity to start off your morning meeting. During this time, give time and space for students to share something they are grateful for.

23. Write thank you notes to others.

Have students choose one person to write a thank you letter to. This activity allows students to practice their writing and editing skills while building a culture of kindness . When writing pieces are finished, encourage students to give their letter to that person.

Gratitude activity: Write thank you notes.

24. Create gratitude bookmarks.

Use gratitude bookmarks to read, write, and color with a focus on different gratitude topics. Students can delve deeper into their gratitude for friends, family, learning, hobbies, and more. What is great about this activity is that afterwards, students can keep their bookmark to remind them what they are grateful for.

Create gratitude bookmarks with kids and teens.

25. Read gratitude quotes.

Read gratitude quotes and discuss. Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves.
  • Gratitude makes what we have enough.
  • The more you practice gratitude, the more grateful you become.

Have students find their own gratitude quotes to share too.

26. Give gratitude free write time.

Allow 5-10 minutes for students to write independently about something they feel grateful for. Writing for longer periods of time on one gratitude topic encourages kids and teens to dig deep and think about why they are grateful for that thing or person.

27. Provide time for show and tell.

Show and tell is an excellent time for kids and teens to share something important to them. Kids might talk about a special trip they took with family or bring in their biking helmet to talk about the activity and what it means to them. Ultimately, this is an exercise in gratitude and relationship-building.

Gratitude show and tell activity.

28. Create a gratitude chain.

Cut a piece of paper lengthwise into 4 slips. On each slip, have students write something they are grateful for. Loop these into a circle and create a gratitude chain. Keep your gratitude chain in the classroom as a reminder (and you can keep adding to it whenever you want!).

29. Practice gratitude with colors.

Choose a color of the day to practice gratitude with. For example, have students think of things that are green that they are grateful for. Students might share things like frogs, grass, leaves, broccoli, snakes, and soccer fields. Each day, you can pick a new color to experiment with.

Gratitude activity: Practice gratitude with different colors.

30. Gratitude mindful breathing.

Use mindful breathing exercises to practice gratitude. Have students slowly breathe in as they picture something in their heads that they are grateful for. Then, slowly exhale. You can continue this a few times before discussing what each student pictured.

Gratitude mindful breathing activity for kids and teens

31. Use end of the day reflections.

Spend time positively reflecting on what went well for the day. Use simple SEL reflection questions to make a meaningful impact. A few to try include:

  • What are you proud of yourself for today?
  • What inspired you?
  • What strengths did you use?

32. Gratitude presentations.

Allow students to create a way to present something they are grateful for to the class. This is an excellent way to strengthen gratitude while also building public speaking skills. Students can create a presentation any way they choose, with pictures, stories, written responses, or multimedia.

More to Read:

  • Fall and Autumn Activities to Build Social-Emotional Learning Skills
  • The 9 Most Simple and Effective Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning

30+ gratitude activities for kids and teens from gratitude jars to gratitude journals and everything in between.

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20 Ways to Teach Gratitude in the Classroom

gratitude assignment for students

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Teaching gratitude to students can be an effective way to promote happiness and well-being. In addition, teaching gratitude can help students better understand their own emotions and how those emotions impact their lives.

There are a few ways to introduce gratitude into the classroom setting. One approach is to have students write down five things they are grateful for each day. Another approach is to have students share an experience that made them happy during the past week.

Teaching gratitude can have a profound impact on student motivation and success. It can also create a more positive and connected school community. Moreover, teaching gratitude can help create a more positive environment in which students can learn and thrive.

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what someone has done or given. It is a feeling of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving something good. Grateful people recognize the good in their lives and appreciate their blessings. Gratitude helps people feel happy and satisfied with their lives.

gratitude assignment for students

Gratitude is an important part of a person’s life. It can help to build relationships and make people happier; it can even improve mental health. Teaching gratitude in the classroom can help students learn how to be grateful for the good things in their lives as well as the bad.

One way to teach gratitude is by having students keep a daily journal. In this journal, students should write down three good things that happened that day, as well as one thing they are grateful for. This exercise can help students focus on the positive aspects of their lives and can also help them develop a better attitude.

Gratitude teaches children how to be thankful for what they have instead of always wanting more. This is a valuable life lesson that can carry over into adulthood. Also, teaching gratitude helps foster a sense of community in the classroom. When children learn to be grateful for what they have, they are also more likely to appreciate what others have to offer.

Why Is Gratitude Important?

Gratitude is one of the most important virtues to cultivate in students’ lives. It has been shown to lead to positive emotions, improved mental health, and increased happiness. Gratitude has the power to change students’ perspectives on life, make them more compassionate, and make them happier.

gratitude assignment for students

Why is it so important for students to learn how to be grateful? Gratitude helps students cultivate a positive outlook on life. When students are grateful for what they have, it can help them be more content with their current situation.

It also encourages students to think about the good in life instead of focusing on the bad. It can help them connect with other people and create lasting relationships.

Finally, gratitude makes students happier in the short-term and better able to cope with difficult situations in the future. Learning how to be grateful will benefit students both academically and emotionally.

How to Teach Gratitude in the Classroom

Gratitude is one of the most important principles you can teach your students. It can help to improve their mental and physical health; increase happiness and well-being; and even boost their academic performance. Gratitude can be a difficult concept for students to learn, but with a little effort, it can become a regular part of their lives. Here are 20 tips for teaching gratitude in the classroom: 

1. Start with small steps.

How to Handle a Student Who Sleeps in Class

When introducing gratitude to students, start with small steps. For example, have them write down five things they are grateful for each day. This will help to increase their awareness of their own emotions and how those emotions impact their lives.

2. Encourage students to share their gratitude experiences.

One of the best ways to teach gratitude is to encourage students to share their experiences with gratitude. For example, have them write a paper about how grateful they are for a particular event or experience. This will help increase their awareness of the power of gratitude and how it can affect their lives.

3. Connect gratitude with other important values.

When teaching gratitude, it is important to connect it with other important values in the classroom, such as empathy, compassion, and responsibility. For example, have students write an essay about how thankful they are for someone else’s kindness or for helping them out during a difficult situation.

4. Use examples from everyday life.

One of the best ways to introduce gratitude into the classroom is to use examples from everyday life. For example, have students write about something they were grateful for while they were waiting in line at the grocery store or while they were on their way to school.

5. Have students write about how grateful they are for specific things.

Another great way to introduce gratitude into the classroom is to have students write about specific things they are grateful for. For example, have them write about something they are thankful for every day of the week. This will help increase their awareness of the many blessings in their lives.

6. Encourage students to share their gratitude with others.

gratitude assignment for students

One of the best ways to enhance gratitude in students is to encourage them to share it with others. For example, have them write a thank you letter to a friend or family member. This will help increase their sense of satisfaction and well-being.

7. Have the students write about how grateful they are for difficult times.

Another great way to teach gratitude is to have students write about difficult times when they were able to pull through thanks to gratitude. For example, have them write about a time when they were able to get through a tough situation thanks to positive thinking and gratitude.

8. Have students create a “gratitude bucket” or “gratitude journal”.

One of the best ways to teach gratitude is by having students create a “gratitude bucket” or “gratitude journal”. This can be done by having them draw pictures of what they are grateful for or writing down everything that makes them happy each day. This will help increase their awareness of the many blessings in their lives and help them develop a deeper appreciation for life itself.

9. Help students find opportunities to be grateful each day.

One of the best ways to help students learn how to be grateful each day is by helping them find opportunities to be grateful each day. For instance, have them keep track of what good things happen during the day and what bad things happen during the day, as well as what challenges they face but manage successfully nonetheless. This will help increase their awareness of any blessings in the real world and help them develop a deeper appreciation for life itself.

10. Hold a gratitude dinner.

A great way to help teach gratitude is by having a gratitude dinner. This can be done by having everyone bring something they are grateful for to share, or by focusing on a specific topic, such as “gratitude for healthy food” or “gratitude for being alive”. Gratitude dinners are a great way to build bridges between students and to help teach children the importance of living in the present moment.

11. Have students write and perform a “thank you letter”.

gratitude assignment for students

Another great way to help teach students how to be grateful is by having them write and perform a “thank you letter”. This can be done by having them write out a list of everything they are grateful for every day, or by having them write out a thank you note for someone special in their life. Having students express their thanks in writing will help increase their sense of appreciation and will help them develop better communication skills.

12. Have students make donations to charity in honor of what they are grateful for.

Another great way to help teach students how to be grateful is by having them make donations to charity in honor of what they are grateful for. This can be done by asking the class what things they are most thankful for, or by getting the class involved in choosing which charity receives their donation. This will help increase their sense of giving back and will also show that gratitude is more than just saying “thank you”.

13. Have students complete “5 Things I Am Grateful For” cards.

One final way to help teach gratitude is by having students complete “5 Things I Am Grateful For” cards. This can be done by asking students to list five things that make them happy each day, or by asking them specifically what they are grateful for at the moment. Having students list all 5 items on their cards will help increase their awareness of all the good things happening in their lives and foster an appreciation for life itself.

14. Model thankfulness yourself.

One of the best ways to teach gratitude is to be a model for it. This means showing gratitude for everything from the smallest things (to your students) to the biggest things (such as the world around you). It is important for students to see that being grateful is not a “niche” value, but rather something that can impact every aspect of their lives.

15. Encourage students to do acts of kindness.

Acts of kindness can include donating blood or money to charity, helping an elderly person cross the street, or doing something small for someone else. Doing acts of kindness regularly can help students develop a sense of responsibility and compassion for others. Additionally, it can help students learn about themselves and their own values.

16. Make a “blessing tree” in class.

Ways to Deal With Students Who Don't Care about Anything

One way to introduce gratitude into your classroom is to create a “blessing tree”. This tree can be used as a focal point for discussion and reflection throughout the year. Students can write down things they are grateful for each day, post them on the tree, and take a moment to reflect on their blessings each morning. By cultivating a daily practice of gratitude, students may become more accepting, tolerant, and optimistic in their lives.

17. Help students understand the benefits of gratitude.

Gratitude is often viewed as a shallow emotion, but there are many benefits to cultivating gratitude in our lives. Gratitude has been shown to increase happiness, and satisfaction with life, and even help reduce anxiety and depression. When students learn about the benefits of gratitude, they are more likely to take action and cultivate more positive emotions throughout their lives.

18. Hold a “grateful moment” contest.

One way to encourage students to be more grateful is to hold a “grateful moment” contest. Students could be asked to write about a time when they were incredibly grateful for something small or big. They could then share their writing with the class, and winners could be chosen based on how well they captured the spirit of gratitude. This activity can help students learn about the benefits of being thankful, as well as develop some creative and public storytelling skills.

19. Hold a “Gratitude Darts” competition.

Another way to teach gratitude in the classroom is to hold a “gratitude darts” competition where each student throws a dart at random and writes down one thing they are grateful for that day, no matter how small or trivial it may seem (e.g., the sun shining through the window, being able to breathe).

20. Give an “Exceptional Gratitude Award”.

Let students vote on which person in the class deserves special recognition for demonstrating exceptional gratitude throughout the semester. Give small rewards (such as candy, cake, etc.) to the winner. This will encourage students to show gratitude for little things in order to be the next winner.

gratitude assignment for students

The Benefits of Gratitude in Students’ Lives

When we are grateful for what we have, our lives tend to run more smoothly. Gratitude gives us a sense of well-being and happiness that can spill over into other areas of our lives. When students practice gratitude, they can learn how to manage their emotions, build better relationships, and even achieve success in their academic careers.

Moreover, numerous studies have found that being grateful leads to increased happiness, better stress management, improved sleep quality, and even reduced symptoms of depression. Furthermore, gratitude has been linked with increased levels of both physical and mental health. Here are some of the benefits of gratitude:

1. Increased Happiness

Gratitude makes people happier because it leads to positive emotions such as joy, satisfaction, love, and compassion. People who are more grateful tend to have lower levels of anxiety and depression and feel a greater sense of well-being.

2. Better Stress Management

Gratitude helps people manage their stress by reducing feelings of envy and resentment, which lead to emotional stress symptoms like tension headaches and stomach cramps. It also activates the brain’s “relaxation response,” which helps reduce anxiety levels by activating the body’s immune system, calming the mind, and improving concentration skills.

3. Improved Sleep Quality

active learning in education

Gratitude is associated with better sleep because it reduces negative thoughts that can disturb sleep patterns, such as worrying about work or financial problems. It also leads to feelings of contentment, which can induce a sense of relaxation and sleep.

4. Increased Self-Confidence

Gratitude makes people feel good about themselves because it increases their self-esteem and self-efficacy. It encourages people to take action and achieve their goals, as well as build positive relationships with others.

5. Increased Efficiency

Gratitude leads to improved task completion rates because it energizes people and prompts them to be more focused and motivated. It also enhances the brain’s ability to learn new information and make better decisions.

6. Greater Emotional Resilience

Gratitude is associated with increased emotional resilience because it reduces the negative impact of stress on mental health by boosting the body’s immune system, enhancing cognitive function, and reducing feelings of depression. It also helps people deal positively with challenging life events.

7. Improved Relationship Status

Gratitude is linked with stronger relationships because it leads to better communication, trust, and understanding between couples. People who are more grateful tend to be more understanding, supportive, and forgiving towards their loved ones, which builds stronger bonds in relationships.

8. Greater Resilience To Stressful Events

13 Tips For Managing Classroom Transitions

People who are grateful have a greater ability to cope with stressful events due to their increased emotional resilience due to gratitude practices such as practicing mindfulness or journaling about gratitude experiences throughout the day or week.

9. Increased Volunteerism

People who are grateful are more likely to volunteer for community service projects because they derive satisfaction from helping others rather than receiving help themselves. They also feel less indebted to those they volunteer for since they view giving back as an act of generosity rather than an obligation.

10. Better Relationship Recovery After Suffering A Loss

Gratitude has been proven to improve relationship recovery after experiencing a loss by promoting feelings of connectedness, supportiveness, empathy, and communication within couples.

11. Improved Memory And Cognitive Functioning

Being grateful has been shown to improve memory and cognitive functioning by boosting both hippocampal activity (a part of the brain responsible for learning and memory) as well as overall brain volume in areas associated with learning, such as the frontal lobe.

This means that people who practice gratitude will be able to remember information quickly, stay focused when studying longer passages of text, think creatively, and solve problems easily.

12. Greater Sense Of Wellbeing

How to be firm in your classroom

Gratitude leads to a greater sense of well-being because it reduces rumination, and the habit of thinking about negative thoughts over and over again, which is associated with anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse problems.

13. Increased Compassion For Others

Gratitude has been shown to create a sense of well-being and increase compassion for others. A gratitude practice can begin with simply acknowledging the good in your life, and then expanding your focus to include those around you. When we focus on the good in our lives, it creates an atmosphere of love and connectedness. This in turn leads to compassion for others, as we understand their experience more fully.

14. Improved Relationships With Strangers And Colleagues

Being grateful has been shown to improve relationships with strangers by making them feel appreciated which can lead them to behave nicer towards you than if they weren’t grateful.

15. Better Mental Health Across Generations

The latest study from the University of Utah found that children who were raised with gratitude experienced better mental health outcomes as adults, including fewer psychiatric problems and increased work productivity.

Final Thoughts

13 Tips to Learn And Remember Students' Names

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can have a positive impact on both the individual and the community. It is important to teach gratitude in the classroom, not only to help students develop a sense of appreciation for their lives but also to encourage cooperation and kindness. There are many ways to teach gratitude, and the most effective approach will vary depending on the age and interests of the students.

Moreover, teaching gratitude in the classroom can have a number of benefits for students. It can help them to develop a positive outlook on life, to become more resilient in the face of setbacks, and to appreciate the good things they have. It can also help to build relationships with classmates and teachers and to foster a sense of community in the classroom. Thank You For Reading!

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gratitude assignment for students

gratitude assignment for students

When it comes to creating a  culture of kindness  inside and outside your classroom, gratitude is a key ingredient — and during the month of November, there’s no better time to help students reflect upon what they can be grateful for in their lives.

Plus, check out these read-alouds that teach about gratitude. 

As you and your students count down the days to winter break, these writing prompts and book pairings will not only help your students reflect on the spirit of the season but will also show them just how much there is to be thankful for in their classroom and community.  

Perfect Book and Gratitude Writing Prompt Pairings

1. Describe your favorite season. What makes it so special? 

Then read:  Greeting Seasons: Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn   and  Greeting Seasons: Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter .

2. What’s your favorite holiday? Why? 

Then read:  Kindergarten Kids: Hooray for the Holidays ,  Binny's Diwali ,  K Is for Kwanzaa ,  Peppa Pig: Happy Hanukkah! ,  and  Clifford the Big Red Dog: Clifford's Christmas .

3. Describe one of your greatest accomplishments. How did it make you feel? 

Then read:  The Way I Feel   and My BIG Feelings .

4. What is one goal you have for the school year? What can you do now to achieve it? 

Then read:  Dream Big   and  Nothing Stopped Sophie .

5. Describe your dream job. 

Then read:  I Can Be Anything!   and  All About School: When We Grow Up .

6. What does gratitude mean to you? 

Then read:  If You're Thankful and You Know It   and  Thankfulness: A Gratitude Attitude!

7.   Describe three different ways you can show gratitude without saying “thank you.” 

Then read:  Thank You, Mr. Panda ,  Acorn - Bumble and Bee: Let's Bee Thankful   and  Try a Little Kindness.

8. How does it make you feel when someone thanks you? Describe a time when someone thanked you for helping them.

Then read:  Curious Readers - Positive Power Stories: I Am Thankful .

9. Estimate how many times you express gratitude each day. Do you think the amount is just right or could you give thanks even more? Why or why not? 

Then read:  Peppa Pig: Peppa Gives Thanks   and  Stinky Face: Thank You, Stinky Face .

10. W hat is your favorite thing to do at school? Why? 

Then read:  All About School: School Time!   and  If You Give a Mouse: Time for School, Mouse!

11.   What is your favorite thing to do at home? Why? 

Then read:  In My Home   and  My Little Busy Day: My Day With You .

12. Describe the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week. 

Then read:  Last Stop on Market Street .

13.   What is your favorite weekend activity? Why? 

Then read:  Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend .

14. Describe something special about your family that you’re grateful for.

Then read:  The Family Book   and  Families, Families, Families!

15.   Describe something special about a friend that you’re grateful for. 

Then read:  Remarkable Me: You Be You   and  I Am a Good Friend!

16.   Choose three people to write thank you notes to today. 

Then read:  Pearl and Squirrel Give Thanks   and  The Day it Rained Hearts .

17.   Write a thank you note to yourself.

Then read:   Mindful Me, Happy Me: The Caring Me I Want to Be   and  The Things I Love About Me .

18. Describe a time when you did something to help a classmate. 

Then read:  What Does It Mean to be Kind?  and  Kindness and Generosity: It Starts With Me!

19. Describe a time when you did something to help a family member. 

Then read:  Our Table  and  Clifford the Big Red Dog: Clifford's Family .

20. What are you most looking forward to today? Why? 

Then read:  This is the Day!   and  Dixie and the Best Day Ever .

21. Describe a time when you learned something new. 

Then read:  Five Colorful Crayons   and  Creatrilogy: The Dot .

22. Describe something good that happened to you today. 

Then read:   The Feel Good Book   and  Feeling Thankful .

23. What are three things you love most about yourself? 

Then read:   I Like Myself!   and  I Love All of Me .

24. Describe an event from your past that made you smile. 

Then read: Happy in Our Skin  and Wonky Donkey's Big Surprise .

25.   Write a thank you poem to someone special in your life. 

Then read:  You Are a Gift to Me!  and  Thank You, Mr. Falker .

By writing about gratitude every day during the month of November, your students will realize just how much they have to be thankful for in their lives. Daily writing is a great habit for them to get into, and by encouraging your students to take a few minutes each day to jot down their thoughts on gratitude, you’ll sustain and strengthen the  culture of kindness  within your classroom. 

Shop books about gratitude below! You can find all books and activities at  The Teacher Store .

The Gratitude Tree for Kids (Incl. Activities + Drawings)

gratitude-kids

Making gratitude fun and meaningful can introduce kids to a lifelong appreciation for the world around them and all that it has to offer.

Family practice of gratitude not only teaches children to evoke positive emotions, it also provides opportunities to strengthen bonds within the family unit. Character counts and it starts with gratitude.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients connect to more positive emotions and enjoy the benefits of gratitude.

This Article Contains:

A gratitude definition for kids, what is a gratitude tree, gratitude activities for kids, gratitude drawings and prompts, how to hold a gratitude scavenger hunt.

  • Make a Gratitude Countdown Calendar or Chart

Using Gratitude Rhymes to Teach Kids

  • 4 Gratitude Videos for Kids

A Take-Home Message

The best teachers of gratitude are practitioners of gratitude. Parents, if you are not regularly increasing your own positive emotions through the practice of fully appreciating, how can you possibly expect your kids to begin? Monkey see, monkey do, after all.

There are different categories of gratitude that develop with age (Halberstadt et al., 2018).

Concrete gratitude is the verbal “manners” type of gratitude, like an automatic “thank you” as a recognition of appreciation for something received.

Another type of gratitude is connective gratitude. This type is a fully understood and appreciated receipt of whatever has been given. The appreciation is returned in a meaningful and heartfelt way. For gratitude to increase happiness (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), it must be felt, and connective gratitude is the key.

Teaching kids about gratitude is an important job, and a crucial part is helping children understand that gratitude is more than just saying “thank you.”

Showing a child gratitude in practice can be a powerful way to reinforce the definition. Take the time to demonstrate what it means to pause and appreciate the things we take for granted. Reveal what it is to be fully aware of your own blessings.

Modeling daily gratitude with consistency can help instill an understanding that gratitude is a positive emotion that can be cultivated.

Gratitude trees are physical opportunities to encourage the expression of appreciation . They can be drawn, or sculpted on paper, fabric, or even directly on the wall. The trees start barren, and then you fill in leaves with expressions of gratitude over a period of time.

Many of these trees begin to grow around Thanksgiving, but there’s no need to wait for a holiday to start this fun practice.

My family’s gratitude tree began as a paper towel holder. We wrapped burlap around the bottom and used pipe cleaners to create the top of the tree. We then cut out a construction paper tree and crafted it into branches.

Gratitude Tree

Then we taped the tree to a wall at a local gym (with permission, of course). We cut leaves from different colors of card stock and punched holes in them. After tying a ribbon, gym patrons could grab a blank leaf from the tree to fill out with gratitude and add to the branches.

We posted instructions for the tree next to the barren branches so that people could add their gratitude leaves as they had the time. It was a joyful activity, as the tree grew and people began to include their own children in the fun.

Here are some additional links to some other beautifully made gratitude trees. Getting those creativity juices flowing with those kiddos is a tremendously connective activity. A little bit of effort will yield big results.

  • Make It, Love It Gratitude Tree
  • A Thanksgiving Tree from Personal Creations
  • Make a Gratitude Tree with This Free Printable from Mama Smiles

gratitude assignment for students

Download 3 Free Gratitude Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to build daily gratitude habits, express more appreciation toward others, and experience more positive emotions in everyday life.

Download Download 3 Gratitude Tools (PDF)

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There are a multitude of fun gratitude activities for kids, and we’ve shared a few here for inspiration.

Gratitude journals

A common way to get kids to express gratitude is through a gratitude journal . Having to reflect daily on what they appreciate, gets kids primed for the concept of mindfulness. Having them motivated to reflect quietly can really be the hard part. A great way to get them started is with some gratitude prompts.

Here are a few examples.

  • “I am grateful for Mom and Dad when…”
  • “I am grateful to learn…”
  • “I am grateful to eat…”
  • “I am grateful for my favorite…”

If they don’t want to take the time to write down their gratitude, an equally effective way to start the practice is by asking them to share three good things that happened in the last 24 hours.

In addition to the three good things, ask them to share how they contributed to those three good things. Sharing can create a tremendous opportunity to bond with your kids about their day. This becomes especially helpful as kids approach and enter adolescence.

Relevant:  13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities

Thank-you notes

Gratitude Activities for kids

Gratitude jars and paper chains

Compiling your thankfulness with a gratitude jar or paper chain is a great way to infuse gratitude into a group project. Decorate a jar together, then have each family member put daily entries into the jar. Or, create a color looping paper chain of grateful memories. At the end of the month, everyone can share in the family gratitude project by savoring what was appreciated together.

This project can be expanded to an annual project too. Have each family member add a note about something they’re grateful for each month. Open the gratitude messages on New Year’s Eve and savor the pieces of gratitude from the year.

Gratitude chalkboard

This is a connective daily practice for the family. Imagine the bonding moments when your family simply writes notes of appreciation for everyday things. Adding to the chalkboard can be a spark of surprise throughout the day too. If you don’t want to invest the time or money into a chalkboard, sticky notes do the trick, too.

Gratitude walks

Going on gratitude walks and having quiet respect for nature are active ways to bring mindfulness and appreciation to the forefront of kids’ minds. Adolescents in particular may open up a little more when they’re moving, rather than sitting down to talk, especially with parents.

Teaching children to leave nature for others to enjoy, instead of picking flowers and removing pieces helps kids respect that nature is for everyone. It helps them savor moments outside too. Teaching them to leave no trace is a fantastic rule for them to understand that their behavior matters.

Family gratitude book

A family gratitude book is a very personal way to bring gratitude into the family. It can be included in family meetings and read aloud. Keep a picture of each family member at the front of different sections of a notebook. The family can open the various sections of the book and write down moments they have appreciated that family member.

Creating a deep appreciation for each other is an amazing way to help your children know how much they matter in your family. A sense of belonging can be important for self-efficacy and help kids show up in the world with compassion and confidence.

Letters of gratitude

If you want to encourage your family to become more engaged in your community, letters of gratitude to those in your community (e.g., firefighters, librarians, teachers, and neighbors) are a great way to start.

Add a plate of cookies and hand deliver the letters for an even more impactful act of gratitude.

The alphabet thank you game

The alphabet thank-you game is a fun gratitude activity for any boring moment of downtime. For each letter of the alphabet, have each participant name something for which they’re thankful. It’s fun to watch kids come up with words to match the letters and reflect on their blessings at the same time.

Charity projects can be a powerful way to reveal to your kids that they have much to be grateful for. Creating care packages for people experiencing homelessness is a way to teach children compassion and appreciation for all they have.

Working at a food bank or gathering items for charities is are other great ways to get kids involved. Encourage your kids to find a project they’re interested in.

Random acts of kindness

These are another avenue for creating positive affect, but they’re also a great way to bolster gratitude in children. Encourage them to participate in random acts of kindness, especially after receiving one. It’s like getting two benefits in one.

Gratitude ping-pong

Here’s a fun interactive activity for the whole family. Grab a small, soft ball and partner up. For five minutes, pass the ball back and forth, stating something you’re grateful for with each pass. It’s fun to watch participants get more excited as the game progresses. This is a fantastic activity to include in sports practices too.

Difference maker research

This is a unique way to involve kids in appreciating people they haven’t even met. Have your child choose a person who is making a difference in the world around them.

Find a book about them in the library and spend time learning about that person together. Not only does this help your child appreciate that specific person in the world, it helps to instill an understanding that having purpose in your actions makes a difference to people they might not know too.

Gratitude Coloring Pages

Getting them to express their thankfulness in drawings is a fun activity for this purpose.

Here are 10 prompts to get you started.

Draw something/someone.

  • That makes you happy
  • You couldn’t live without
  • That helps you
  • That makes you smile
  • You are thankful for
  • You think is kind
  • You think is fun
  • That makes you feel good
  • That makes you laugh

This activity is fun to host anytime, but is even more fun in big groups, like family reunions. Create small groups, each one with a phone/camera.

Usually a group of two to four people is best. Hand each group a sheet to keep track of their photos. These photos do not have to be taken in order.

Gratitude list

  • A challenge
  • Something I’d like to share
  • Someone older than me
  • Recently discovered or learned
  • Shows a vibrant color
  • Has words on it
  • Makes me feel strong
  • Makes me laugh
  • Makes me cry
  • Represents my country
  • Someone I love

Making a Gratitude Countdown Calendar or Chart

Gratitude Advent Calendar

Gratitude calendar

This type of calendar can be a wonderful way to countdown to any event or holiday. Here are the directions for how to build a fun “countdown in gratitude” calendar.

Materials Needed

  • 1 large empty cardboard box
  • seasonal scrapbook paper
  • small treat bags
  • scrapbook letters (optional)
  • seasonal stickers (optional)
  • Cut the empty box open so it’s flat, like a science project presentation board.
  • Cover the inside of the box with the seasonal scrapbook paper.
  • Cut the small treat bags in half and discard the tops. Decorate these with the stickers and number the bags with the days of the month, as a countdown.
  • Glue the treat bag halves on the board.
  • You can make it fancy with the letters “Give Thanks” at the top of the board.
  • Glue ribbon around the edges for a more polished look to the calendar.
  • It’s ready to use!

Keep track of daily expressions of gratitude leading up to a certain date. On that special day, empty the days and share the expressions with your family. Enjoy the bonding.

An alternative way of utilizing this calendar is by pre-filling the bags with submissions by each family member, for each family member. Each day the family can pull out the daily gratitude and give and receive the love.

Gratitude chart

A brain map or gratitude chart can be a helpful way to brainstorm. Start with a blank sheet of paper and in the middle draw a circle filled with the word “ Gratitude “. Draw lines, like spokes on a wheel, from that circle toward the edge of the paper. On each of these spokes write an area of your life. For instance, family, school, home, etc. From each of these spokes, draw more spokes that are things within that area that bring you feelings of gratitude.

You couls also try a Give Thanks poster. On the top of the poster write in big letters, “ I am thankful for… ” Each day, every family member can write an entry. It will fill up quickly as ideas inspire others. For a twist, come up with a new prompt for each day.

gratitude assignment for students

17 Exercises To Nurture Gratitude & Appreciation

Empower others with more hope, satisfaction, and fulfilling relationships with these 17 Gratitude & Appreciation Exercises [PDF] that harness the powerful benefits of gratitude.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

Poetry is a colorful way to teach kids about gratitude. Using rhyme can get kids to use their minds to search for more. Being grateful for a car has nothing to do with being thankful for a star , but it is a way of expanding the scope of their gratitude.

Music can be a powerful tool for teaching children. It’s no different when thinking about teaching them about gratitude. There are many artists who use rhyme to make the subject accessible to kids.

The following songs are great options to share with your children.

  • “ Attitude of Gratitude ” written by The Swinging Belles
  • “ I Am Thankful ” by Bubbly Vee is a Thanksgiving song
  • “ If You’re Happy and You Know It ”
  • “ Attitude of Gratitude ” by Zippity 2 Dads
  • “ Thankful for Your Service ” by They Might Be Giants

11 Gratitude Videos for Kids

Kid president’s 25 reasons to be thankful.

What Is Gratitude? The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

What Does It Mean to Be Thankful? (for Kids)

An Experiment In Gratitude – The Science Of Happiness

For more videos and talks on gratitude, please see this list .

Teaching and practicing gratitude will empower kids to live happier lives. Gratitude benefits emotional wellbeing by increasing positive emotions (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), enables savoring of experiences (Bryant et al., 2021), and even counters materialism (Polak & McCullough, 2006).

The more parents start to focus on the practice themselves, the more the family will follow that same path. Cheers to building more positive emotion in your home.

For further reading on gratitude:

  • Gratitude Meditation: A Simple but Powerful Happiness Intervention
  • The Neuroscience of Gratitude and Effects on the Brain

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free .

  • Bryant, F. B., Osowski, K. A., & Smith, J. L. (2021). Gratitude as a mediator of the effects of savoring on positive adjustment to aging. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development , 92(3), 275–300.
  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ,  84 (2), 377-389.
  • Halberstadt, A. G., Langley, H. A., Hussong, A. M., Rothenberg, W. A., Coffman, J. L., Mokrova, I., & Costanzo, P. R. (2016). Parents’ understanding of gratitude in children: A thematic analysis.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly ,  36 , 439-451.
  • Polak, E. L., & McCullough, M. E. (2006). Is gratitude an alternative to materialism? Journal of Happiness Studies , 7, 343–360.

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What our readers think.

Gomathi

Thanks a lot Kelly!! I was searching for ways to make gratitude a second nature for my kids. U made my day…

carmen

Materials are friendly and easy to follow and use

https://gardenexpertdesign.com

Thanks for your article! Very instructive! I like everything!

Audrey

Thank you for sharing this piece. It was very helpful now I can do it with my siblings and maybe we an get along well together.

Eva

These are so AMAZING and practical! Thank you so much for categorising and sharing these valuable resources promoting such powerful intervention.

Asha

WOW! Nothing else I could think of. Its just simply WOW!

Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

I’m so very pleased that you enjoyed this piece. It was certainly fun to write.

christine chomba

interesting topic … thank you

It’s my pleasure. One of my favorite topics for sure.

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gratitude assignment for students

3 Gratitude Exercises Pack

IMAGES

  1. Simple 30-Day Gratitude Prompts for Kids

    gratitude assignment for students

  2. 100 Meaningful Gratitude Prompts, Gratitude Questions, Writing Prompts

    gratitude assignment for students

  3. Gratitude Activities for Students: Make Gratitude a Daily Routine

    gratitude assignment for students

  4. GRATITUDE ACTIVITIES FOR STUDENTS

    gratitude assignment for students

  5. Free Printable Gratitude Worksheets

    gratitude assignment for students

  6. Gratitude Activity for Middle School Students (Printable + Digital

    gratitude assignment for students

VIDEO

  1. A Year in Review

  2. An Attitude of Gratitude

COMMENTS

  1. PDF Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens

    Gratitude interventions for students should start by identifying and engaging students' character strengths and interests, and they should let students appreciate the different benefits and benefactors in their lives for themselves. Let's go beyond lists and dry journals. When people "get" us and help us through tough times, gratitude ...

  2. 13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities

    Step 1: Make one or more leaf cutouts to use as a template for your leaves. Trace leaves on your colored paper. Step 2: Cut out the leaves, punch a hole at the top of each leaf, and loop your string or ribbon through each hole. Step 3: Put the stones or marbles in a vase and stick the tree branch or twig in the middle.

  3. 38 Meaningful Gratitude Activities for Kids

    20. Gratitude yoga. Yoga is a great tool to teach kids mindfulness while still being a lot of fun. Cosmic Kids Yoga videos are some of the best out there. A regular yoga practice can teach kids (and adults) to be grateful for the things they have in their lives. 21. Thank you in sign language.

  4. Three Gratitude Lessons for K-8 Classrooms

    1. Acts of kindness (Grades K-2) Learning objective: Students will identify ways that they have acted with kindness and caring toward others. Gratitude concept: When we choose to do something that benefits others, we often benefit ourselves emotionally. SEL competencies: Self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills.

  5. Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Your Classroom

    Gratitude Journal. To get started in your classroom with gratitude, I recommend actually writing your own gratitude list for a few weeks and feeling its power. Then you can share your example and start the activity with your students. You might start your gratitude journal with being thankful for being alive, for having food to eat and clothes ...

  6. Lesson Plan: Practicing Gratitude via a Gratitude Journal

    Formative assessment of student gratitude practice could be completed via the ... Following completion of the Gratitude Journal Assignment, have students take the Gratitude Quiz again and compare means. Students can explore various cultural practices in gratitude expression and connect these to cultural differences in subjective well-being.

  7. Making Space for Gratitude: 15 Ideas for Schools During Challenging

    3. Talk about gratitude during circle time or advisory period. One way to start conversations about gratitude in the classroom is to make it the focus of circle time or discussions during homeroom or advisory periods. Some topics could include the following: Can you think of a time when…. a classmate helped you.

  8. GRATITUDE ACTIVITIES FOR STUDENTS

    1. GRATITUDE GROWTH TREE: Create and decorate a tree trunk from construction paper or another creative way. Have students fill out a Gratitude Growth Leaf. They can use this template to write what they are grateful for. Then, have students decorate their leaves and cut them out to decorate a class gratitude tree. 2.

  9. Encouraging a Sense of Gratitude in Students

    In many classrooms, teachers encourage acts of kindness by directing kindness assignments themselves. One teacher I know assigns students special agent names. ... Classroom page, or even a simple Google Forms questionnaire that you occasionally share with the class will allow students to offer gratitude for a peer's kindness. The students are ...

  10. Gratitude Activities For Middle School: Printables, Games, Crafts

    Some students love journaling, while others prefer doodling on a piece of paper. These gratitude drawing prompts help students develop a sense of gratitude in a more creative way that allows for an artistic outlet. Pair these drawing prompts with gratitude journaling prompts to provide options for students of all skill sets. Learn more: Lasso ...

  11. PDF Activity 3.2: Gratitude Letters and Visits

    Gratitude Letters and Visits Concept. Students will learn about the benefits of practicing gratitude. Units it could embed into. Stress and Health, or this could be a stand-alone assignment. Learning Targets. 1. Students will participate in an evidence-based intervention designed to improve gratitude. 2. Students will understand gratitude as an ...

  12. 25 Creative Gratitude Journal Prompts for Your Middle School Students

    Improves interpersonal relationships. Increases overall happiness. Feeling more optimistic about your life and future. Less connected to negative emotions. Makes us more generous, even in the long-term. Less stress and depression. All middle schoolers can benefit from these effects, whether or not their mental health is suffering.

  13. 7 Gratitude Practices, for Teachers and Students

    Here are seven gratitude practices to try yourself and with your students. Practice 1: Daily Gratitude Habit. Every morning when you wake up, say, "Today I am thankful for _____." ... This is a wonderful weekly writing assignment for students in second grade and older. If your students are younger than second grade, they can draw their thank ...

  14. Gratitude for Students

    Gratitude means more than simply saying thank you. Researchers usually define it as a feeling or state that results from both (1) recognizing a good thing, such as a positive outcome or gift we've received, and (2) recognizing that this good thing came from outside ourselves. Although we most often experience gratitude in response to the actions of other people, we can feel grateful to ...

  15. The Gratitude Journal: Prompts, PDFs, and Worksheets

    The Gratitude Journal: Prompts, PDFs, and Worksheets. The act of gratitude plays an important role in psychological wellbeing and self-actualization (Maslow, 1981). Regular expression of gratitude leads to increased feelings of happiness (Dickens, 2017), as well as reports of higher life satisfaction, meaningfulness, and productivity (Emmons ...

  16. 30 Gratitude Activities for Kids and Teens

    Go around in a circle and have each student share their "one thing.". This is a simple, meaningful, and quick way to integrate gratitude while also giving everyone a voice. 11. Create a shout out board. A "shout out" board is a bulletin board focused on positive acts kids have seen or experienced.

  17. 20 Ways to Teach Gratitude in the Classroom

    8. Have students create a "gratitude bucket" or "gratitude journal". One of the best ways to teach gratitude is by having students create a "gratitude bucket" or "gratitude journal". This can be done by having them draw pictures of what they are grateful for or writing down everything that makes them happy each day.

  18. Gratitude Journal: 66 Templates & Ideas for Daily Journaling

    Respected researcher and Journal of Positive Psychology editor Robert Emmons describes his assignment of a gratitude essay as follows: ... Ş., & Ergüner-Tekinalp, B. (2017). The effects of gratitude journaling on Turkish first year college students' college adjustment, life satisfaction and positive affect. International Journal for the ...

  19. 25 Gratitude Writing Prompts to Use Each Day in November Before

    24. Describe an event from your past that made you smile. Then read: Happy in Our Skin and Wonky Donkey's Big Surprise. 25.Write a thank you poem to someone special in your life. Then read: You Are a Gift to Me! and Thank You, Mr. Falker. By writing about gratitude every day during the month of November, your students will realize just how much ...

  20. The Gratitude Tree for Kids (Incl. Activities + Drawings)

    The appreciation is returned in a meaningful and heartfelt way. For gratitude to increase happiness (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), it must be felt, and connective gratitude is the key. Teaching kids about gratitude is an important job, and a crucial part is helping children understand that gratitude is more than just saying "thank you."

  21. Gratitude Exercises

    The Gratitude Exercises worksheet summarizes five activities to help clients start practicing gratitude. Exercises include journaling, taking a mindfulness walk, writing a gratitude letter, and more. After discussing the rationale and benefits of gratitude, this handout serves as a convenient menu of techniques. ...