Gratitude Activities for Kids Perfect for Teaching Thankfulness

Photo of Cassie (Teach Starter)
Updated | 5 min read

November is a good time for teaching gratitude in the classroom — after all, Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about being thankful for the things we have. But how do we teach gratitude when life isn’t always easy for our students … or ourselves? We’ve put together some gratitude activities for kids that can make this hard lesson easier to take in.

What Is Gratitude for Kids?

There are countless definitions of gratitude out there from simple thankfulness to the positive feeling you get when someone does something nice for you to the more active concept of purposely noting what’s good in our lives.

When it comes to kids and gratitude, there’s research that shows kids who are mindful of the concept of gratitude have better life satisfaction overall when compared to their peers. Researchers have likewise found that adolescents who are grateful are happier and more optimistic and give more emotional support to others.

In other words? Teaching kids gratitude can affect a lot more than just the classroom environment.

Modeling Gratitude

One of the most important parts of teaching kids about gratitude is modeling it ourselves. By increasing our own awareness of how we present our feelings throughout the day, we can help our students learn to have a gratitude mindset as their default.

That’s not to say that when the projector suddenly stops connecting with your laptop that you shouldn’t express some frustration (it’s equally important to model how to cope with challenging emotions, too). However, you can make a conscious effort to express gratitude through words, writing, and acts of reciprocity. These seemingly small things don’t go unnoticed by the little sponges in your classroom!

Gratitude Activities for Kids

These gratitude activities can be used as a part of your class’ daily gratitude practice, or as stand-alone activities.

Gratitude Journal for Kids

There’s solid research that a gratitude journal for kids can help decrease materialism and bolster generosity. So why not add a daily or weekly gratitude writing activity?

You can use composition notebooks and make gratitude journaling a free writing activity. Grab the Gratitude Journal Notebook Cover to mark these notebooks specific for gratitude journaling.

For students who don’t know where to start, these Gratitude Journal Writing Prompt Cards contain 50 different prompts to help.


Read Gratitude Books for Kids

You don’t have to be the only one modeling gratitude for your students! The characters of some fabulous children’s books can help with the process of teaching gratitude. Here are some favorites to try this year:


Make a Gratitude Tree

Sometimes called a thankful tree, this is a simple but powerful way to remind your students that everyone has something to be grateful for.

Students take a leaf-shaped piece of paper and write something they are grateful for. Then they add their leaf to the class gratitude tree! We created one using crepe paper for the tree trunk and grass, and then our Gratitude Tree Leaves Template for the leaves.

gratitude tree

We created one using crepe paper for the tree trunk and grass, and then our Gratitude Tree Leaves Template for the leaves.


Gratitude Turkeys

Want a gratitude activity that’s more Thanksgiving-focused? Try making “thankful turkeys!” Kids can write the things they are thankful for on the feathers of their turkey instead of on a leaf.


Create a Gratitude Jar

gratitude jar printable cut and assemble kit

A gratitude jar is one of my favorite gratitude activities for kids! Download and print the Gratitude Jar Cut and Assemble Kit and add the printable labels to a container in your classroom (we used an old candy jar). Students write on the slips something they are grateful for and put it into the jar.

At the end of a decided period of time — maybe a week, a month, or even the end of the semester — you can read these out as a class as a beautiful reflection!

The Gratitude Jar Cut and Assemble Kit that we’ve created also includes two beautiful gratitude quotes that are perfect to display in a photo frame beside your gratitude jar and slips.


Read a Gratitude Poem for Kids

Sometimes, we need a simple way to both teach and remind kids about what gratitude is. This original, printable gratitude poem was written with kids in mind. The poem can be stuck into the front of their gratitude journals as an easy way to remember what gratitude is all about.


Gratitude Writing Prompt Sheets

printable gratitude writing prompt sheets

This resource contains five nature-inspired gratitude writing prompts. Each page has a different picture and a simple prompt for students to respond to.

There is no right or wrong way to use this resource. Students can write words, phrases, or whole sentences. They can write on the picture, or in the space around it. They can color it in, or not! How you use this gratitude writing prompt depends on what kind of writing you’d like your students to complete, or simply what they feel inspired to do!


Gratitude Quote Posters

printable gratitude quote posters

We should never underestimate the impact of a poster that sits unassumingly on our classroom walls. As our students look around the room seeking a little brain break, their eyes fall upon displays. These little messages, read again and again, can turn from a fleeting thought into knowledge.

These two simple gratitude quote posters make a wonderful addition to your classroom decor.


Gratitude activities for kids might just seem like another thing to add to the list, however, it can be such a simple practice to set up and include in your daily classroom routine.

These gratitude activities work beautifully with our collections of kindness and mindfulness activities, too. So, why not try taking 5 minutes after lunch each day for your students to engage in a kindness, mindfulness, or gratitude activity?

Take a look through our  Gratitude Teaching Resource Collection.

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