Appreciating the good people and things in your life is beneficial year-round. But you can help your students start practicing an attitude of gratitude this holiday season with these six activities.
Ask students to keep a gratitude journal, writing weekly or a few times each week. You may instruct students to journal about 3-5 things/people they’re thankful for each time, or you can provide prompts. For younger children, prompts are helpful. Sample ideas include:
- Name two people you’re thankful to have in your life. Why?
- What are three things that made you smile this week?
- List three things that make your life easier or better. How?
- Name three experiences that you were thankful for this week, however small.
- What’s one memory that you’re grateful to have? Why?
It doesn’t sound like much, but multiple studies show that the simple act of recording what we’re thankful for improves health and happiness.
If you’re looking for a collaborative activity, have each student write what they’re thankful for on an autumn leaf made of construction paper. Together, construct a tree with additional construction or craft paper. Ask each student to read their leaf as they place it on the tree.
Not crafty? Conduct a similar activity with a gratitude jar. Place a jar in a central classroom location, along with strips of paper and writing utensils. Children write what they’re thankful for on the slips of paper and place them into the jar.
Each day this holiday season, read out a few strips of paper from the jar. Alternatively, read all entries at a celebration before extended breaks.
Thank You Letters
Recognizing the people we’re thankful for is even more meaningful than recognizing the things for which we’re grateful. Ask students to write and deliver letters to family members, friends, or school faculty who they would like to thank this holiday season.
The activity is also a great way to work on student writing and teach them how to structure a friendly letter. Plus, it benefits both your students and the people who receive their letters.
Before your students head home for an extended break, have a gratitude celebration in your classroom. Like any celebration, it may feature healthy snacks, music, and fun games. For a gratitude-themed game, try the following:
- Give students a snack-sized pack of M&Ms, Skittles, or something else colorful.
- Create a key for each color (e.g. blue=a person you’re grateful for, orange=something you’re thankful to have learned this year, yellow=a memory you’re thankful to have, green=a possession you’re thankful for, etc.).
- Ask students to take turns sharing gratitude with a partner or their table group based on the M&Ms or Skittles in their bag.
You can also recognize gratitude by incorporating the activities listed above. You’ll leave your students on a positive note and set the right tone as they leave for any extended break.