4 Ways to Bring Gratitude Into the Classroom

4 Ways to Bring Gratitude Into the Classroom


Teaching students to express gratitude goes beyond just being thankful or simply saying thank you. I teach students that gratitude is a positive emotion that makes us feel good. It helps us to appreciate both big and small things that we have in our lives that sometimes get taken for granted. When students think about things that they are grateful for, I always encourage them to think about non-material items like spending time with family and friends, having food and water, and attending school.


While any time of the year is a good time to teach students about gratitude, November is perfect! Thanksgiving is in the air and feelings of being thankful are all around. Students are open-minded and ready to express feelings of gratitude. Try these easy to implement ideas to help bring gratitude into your classroom.



Classroom Gratitude Pumpkin

Each year, we take a leftover Halloween pumpkin and turn it into a gratitude pumpkin. We simply write gratitude pumpkin around the stem and carve out time each day to write one thing that we are grateful for in our classroom community on the pumpkin.


4 Ways to Bring Gratitude Into the Classroom


By keeping our gratitude notes on the pumpkin focused on our classroom community, students begin to recognize all that we have in one another. Morning meeting is a great time to take a few minutes for one student to share something that they are grateful for in our community. We talk about how good it feels to recognize one another too. You will be amazed at the ideas that your students come up with!


At the end of the month, I always send the gratitude pumpkin home with one student. You can raffle off who gets to bring it home or select a student who exemplified gratitude this month. My kids love doing this and it helps to build our classroom community even stronger.



Gratitude Jar

I love having my students create their own gratitude jars. We discuss how our gratitude jars are personal and are not shared with others before beginning this project. By keeping these jars private, students feel comfortable and know that they can write anything, even small things like spending time with their parents, in their jars.


gratitude jar for kids


While we discuss gratitude I make sure that students know that by expressing our gratitude we feel good! Even writing down our feelings helps us to feel good. I encourage students to revisit these gratitude jars when they are having a bad day. The simple act of rereading what they are grateful for always helps them to feel better. 



Gratitude Journal

There is no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal. I love to encourage students to express gratitude by modeling it to help them feel comfortable writing about their feelings. During the first week of the month, I share with students different things that I am grateful for each day. I make sure that I include things from different parts of my life, like being a mom, a teacher, a friend, and a sister. I show them how I record it in my journal and instantly they want a journal, too! 


To avoid simply having students create a list, encourage students to write why they are grateful for that item. What brings them happiness about it? Once your students get the hang of it, they will begin to write more about each thing that they are grateful for.


You can encourage your kids to keep their own gratitude journals with this print and go template. Grab it for FREE at the bottom of this post.



Gratitude Read Alouds

Put the Thanksgiving read alouds on hold, and kick off November with read alouds that have characters that are grateful for the small things in life! The characters in these books lend themselves perfectly to meaningful classroom discussions about being grateful for the things that really matter.


gratitude read alouds for upper elementary


Try one of these and grab the FREE printable activity to use with any of these books below.

  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble written by William Steig This sweet story emphasizes that we all need to appreciate what we have in the moment. It also perfectly illustrates that you do not appreciate what you have until it is gone. Watch it here!
  • A Chair for My Mother written by Vera B. Williams I love this book! It is perfect for so many lessons, but with a gratitude lens, it is easy to discuss how the characters appreciate their family. Even after all their possessions are lost in a fire, they are grateful for one another.
  • Knots on a Counting Rope written by Bill Martin Jr Another classic story, this one tells the story about a blind boy who appreciates his relationship with his grandfather and enjoys his time with him as he navigates life through his other senses. This one is great to point out that we should stop and be grateful for things we sometimes take for granted, like our health and the sense of sight. Watch it here!
  • Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch written by Eileen Spinelli I know this book is just perfect for Valentine's Day, but it is also so perfect for gratitude discussions and feeling grateful for our friendships. This touching story tells about Mr. Hatch, who feels alone and sad until he thinks he is loved. Watch it here!
  • Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge written by Mem Fox This book has many life lessons that you can discuss with your students, especially how valuable our memories are. I love reading this book during gratitude lessons because it allows students to be grateful for things that they have experienced and to hold on tho those memories, too. Watch it here!
  • Those Shoes written by Maribeth Bolts This book covers it all! Gratitude, kindness, appreciation, and friendships. Definitely a must-read during any gratitude lesson.


Take the time to welcome gratitude into your classroom this season. The lessons and activities that you do this month will last throughout the year.  You will not only strengthen your classroom community but also strengthen your students' understanding of how and why we should be grateful each and every day. 



Related post: 4 Thanksgiving Activities You Never Thought to Do



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gratitude activities for upper elementary kids




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