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

circle of gratitude1. 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:gratitude writing prompts

  • 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.

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

gratitude journal4. Daily/Weekly/Monthly Gratitude Journal

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 to give kids time to think and write their one thing.  This activity will help kids think about the good things in their lives, and takes a very short amount of time.

5. Verbal Gratitude Exit SlipBoy and Girl speaking

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 Writinggratitude letter writing template

Not only does this activity foster gratitude in elementary kids, but it also helps them with their letter writing skills.  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 (if possible)!

Hopefully, these activities will help you encourage gratitude in your kiddos.  Now, go out and be thankful!

Looking for the printables to go with 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!