During the Thanksgiving season, we all think more deeply about what we are thankful for. This is the perfect time to begin developing habits of gratitude in elementary kids! Research shows that people who regularly express gratitude are healthier, happier, more successful, and more generous. Don’t we want that for all of our kiddos? Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or someone else who works with young children, keep reading for some fun ways you can help foster gratitude in elementary kids. (Want another Thanksgiving related activity? Take a look at this!)
Activities to Foster Gratitude in Elementary Kids
The following activities will help you start a conversation about gratitude with your elementary kids. In addition, they will give your kiddos a chance to think about what makes them thankful and, hopefully, start developing a lifelong habit of gratitude!
1. Circle of Gratitude
If you want to do a whole class gratitude activity, this is a great option! Have your kids sit or stand in a circle (if you do morning meetings, you could incorporate Circle of Gratitude into that time). Then, go around the circle and have each kid share one thing for which they are grateful. If you have younger kids, you may have to explain what the word “grateful” means, and you could even give them a more specific question (e.g. “Think of one person who makes you feel grateful.”)
2. Gratitude Writing Prompts
Do you want to incorporate gratitude into your lessons? If so, try using gratitude writing prompts during your writing period! Simply give your students a question that encourages them to think and write about the good things in their life. (Check out this post for another seasonal writing activity!)
Some ideas are:
- Choose one person who is important to you. Explain what makes him or her special.
- What qualities about yourself are you most thankful for, and why?
- Describe something kind that you did for someone this week.
- What is one thing that happened this week that makes you feel thankful?
3. Class Gratitude Anchor Chart
The class gratitude anchor chart is another great whole group activity. Basically, you make an anchor chart containing all the things for which students in your class are grateful.
Here are a few ways you can create your anchor chart:
- students offer ideas and the teacher writes them on the chart
- each student gets a post-it note (or more) and writes what he or she is thankful for, then the post-its go on the chart
- small groups make their own charts with what they are grateful for, then put them together to make a big chart
- each student makes a gratitude list, then all the lists are posted together
4. Daily/Weekly/Monthly Gratitude Journal
Journaling is a wonderful way for kids to get practice writing and spend time in self-reflection. A gratitude journal means they are specifically writing about what they are thankful for. To start this habit with your kiddos, give each child a journal (or a printed packet) with space to write one thing he or she is grateful for every day, week, or month. Then, spend just a few minutes every day, week, or month for your kids to think and write their one thing (or more if they want!). This activity will help kids think about the good things in their lives, takes a very short amount of time, and gets them into the habit of practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
5. Verbal Gratitude Exit Slip
If you want a quick way to incorporate gratitude into your classroom, verbal exit slips are the way to go! Here’s what you do: At the end of the day (or before specials, or before recess, or before lunch, or whenever works for your schedule!), have each child tell you one thing for which they are grateful as they exit the room. This gets kids thinking about the positive parts of the day, instead of dwelling on the negative ones.
6. Gratitude Letter Writing
Not only does this activity foster gratitude in elementary kids, but it also helps them with their letter writing skills (now that’s a win-win!). Have each child think of one person who has made a positive difference in his or her life. This person could be a parent, teacher, grandparent, coach, aunt, uncle, neighbor, or anyone else for whom the child feels grateful. Then, every kid writes a letter to that person expressing their gratitude. Finally, have your kids deliver the letters or put them in the mail (if possible
Hopefully, these activities will help you encourage gratitude in your kiddos and start a positive habit in their lives!
Looking for the printables to go with all of these activities? Get them here!
Do you have other ideas about how to foster gratitude in elementary students? If so, please leave a comment below or send me an email!