Gratitude is defined as the feeling or expression of thankfulness and appreciation toward yourself, others, people, places, or things. In the US, Thanksgiving is the main holiday that celebrates gratitude and encourages us to be appreciative. However, gratitude is not something we should just express on Thanksgiving. We should share our gratitude all year long.
Gratitude isn’t always an emotion that everyone is able to express. Students may need direction and guidance from you when it comes to discussing gratitude. Studies show that when students practice expressing their feelings, they have higher levels of optimism, increased life satisfaction, and decreased negative feelings. Additionally, students who regularly express gratitude appreciate close relationships and feel better about their life and school.
Below are a few simple ideas that you can use to teach students about gratitude and to practice giving thanks.
Have your students write each letter of the alphabet and try to come up with at least one item they are grateful for under each letter. This ABC Chart Google Doc template would be perfect to share with your students. To extend this activity, students can choose a few words from their list to write a poem or short story.
A gratitude jar is the perfect way to help students think about and recognize the things they have to be thankful for. The idea behind the jar is for students to write down something they are grateful for on a piece of paper and place it in the jar. Then, on a specified date, students can draw out and share. This activity is a great way for them to focus on positive things. You can make the jar a part of your regular classroom routine or you can have students jot down things as they think of them.
If you aren’t able to create and have an actual jar in your classroom, you can always use a digital jar. Check out this gratitude jar Google Drawing template that I created. Students can fill their jar own jar throughout the year.
Create a bulletin board or a gratitude wall in your hallway or classroom. This is an easy way to focus on thankfulness and gratitude during the fall months. It’s a great way to cultivate a positive environment. You can find ideas here and here.
Bitmoji virtual classrooms are popular as well. So why not create a bitmoji bulletin board in your Google Classroom or other LMS. You could call it a “board of thanks.” Encourage your students to express their appreciation by sharing things, people, places, events, etc. that they are thankful for. You can then “pin” these to the board to create a powerful visual for your students. Katania Trudeau creates thankful rooms for her classrooms. Check out her bitmoji templates here. In addition, be sure to check out Jeanine Mele’s virtual room focused on gratitude.
With this activity, encourage your students to keep a journal so they can express what they are grateful for. They can write daily or weekly for a few minutes. You can also give students writing prompts such as “I am thankful for . . .” Students may want to draw pictures as well. The journals can be kept private or shared with the class. Check out this big list of gratitude journal prompts to get started.
The Thankful Tree
This collaborative activity allows students to list what they are thankful for by placing leaves on a tree. This Google Slide template was created by Madeline Martinez, who assigned one slide to each student in her class. She then created a Thankful ebook out of the slides.
This last activity is one for you, the teacher. Model thankfulness by sending gratitude grams to your students, parents, or colleagues. This template created by Dawn Killiany is an example of what she sends to her students.
How are you teaching thankfulness and gratitude with your students? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.
Being thankful is a trait that we can choose to instill in our students. If you would like to explore additional Social and Emotional skills, be sure to check out TCEA’s online, self-paced Social and Emotional online course. Priced at just $39, the course features seven modules designed to help your students understand their own self-awareness, build positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and more. Enroll today!