In studies of successful people, gratitude is frequently a characteristic that comes up.  Gratitude is an emotion of expressing appreciation for what you have, rather than what you don’t have.  Psychology Today reports that gratitude can be cultivated and it can increase levels of happiness when you do.  Energy, optimism, and empathy are by-products of gratitude. 

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, here are some tips for nurturing gratitude in your students:

Model Gratitude

Make it a habit to include things you appreciate into daily conversations.


What does it mean to be thankful?  Write children’s responses on the board.  What are some synonyms for thankful?

Gratitude Journal

Make a special journal for each child to use during the month of November.  Several times a week ask them to draw, list, or write sentences about things they are grateful for.

  • I used copy paper and wallpaper cut in 9” x 12” rectangles to make my journal.  Take five sheets of paper and fold in half.  Center on the wallpaper and sew down the middle.  (You can do this by hand, or maybe there is a parent or grandparent with a machine who would do this for you.)  It makes a lovely book.











Thankful Board

Designate a bulletin board or poster in the hall as your “thankful board.”  Children can attach sticky notes or draw pictures of things they are thankful for throughout the month.

Gratitude Box

Cut a hole in the top of a shoebox and decorate.  Place on a shelf along with paper and pencils.  Children write things they are thankful for and place them in the box.  When you have a few extra minutes, select notes and read them to the class.










Tell Me Something GOOD

Start the day by going around the room and asking each child to say something they are thankful for.

End with Something GOOD

Clap and slap thighs as you say this chant to end your day:
            Hey, hey, what do you say?
            What happened good at school today?
Children take turns telling positive things that happened or something they did that made them feel proud.

Happy Face Tickets

Run off happy face tickets.  Each child has to say something positive about the day to earn a ticket.  Their homework is to tell their families what they did to earn the happy face ticket.

Thank You Letter

Have children think of someone special in their lives and write a thank you letter to them.

Hot Potato Pass

You can use an old pair of panty hose to make a hot potato for this game – or just use a ball or other small object.  Children sit or stand in a circle and begin passing the hot potato around.  When the music stops or when the teacher blows a whistle the child holding the potato must say one thing they are thankful for.

Grateful Art

Children can make collages, posters, pennants, bookmarks, or other projects of things they are thankful for.


Use the words “Thanksgiving” or “Gratitude” to write acrostic poems.












  • Younger children could take the word “Thanks” and draw a picture for each letter.


Find a project in your community that your class can do to help others.

What else?  I am GRATEFUL to YOU!  Have a wonderful month!

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