Students demonstrate the trait of gratitude by consistently identifying, experiencing, and expressing thankfulness for the good things in their lives (i.e., they count their blessings), and they invariably and graciously express gratitude for gifts, favors, compliments, and services received. (e.g., positive people see the glass as half full, and grateful people are thankful for the half they have rather than resentful about the half they don’t).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Key Beliefs:

I will be a better student if I act on the following beliefs:

  • I consistently identify, experience, and express thankfulness for the good things in my life.
  • My capacity and feelings of gratitude are inversely related to how much I take for granted.
  • I see the glass as half full and am thankful for the half I have rather than resentful about the half I don’t.
  • I express appreciation for the meaningful experiences and kindness shown by others.
  • I invariably and graciously express gratitude for gifts, favors, compliments, and services received.
  • Have students keep some form of “Gratitude Journal.”
  • Be engaged in service activities. 
  • Initiate a community appreciation bulletin board or newsletter, or set aside a time in the classroom when students can publicly express appreciation for each other and the adults in their lives.
  • Explain how much it means to you and to others when someone expresses appreciation.
  • Cut out pictures of things they’re grateful for and then have them use the pictures to create collages, or to decorate a classroom gratitude bulletin board.
  • Write what you are thankful for on strips of paper, and then use the strips to make a gratitude chain to hang up in the classroom.
  • Write one thing that he or she is grateful for on a Post-it note and then plot it on a classroom gratitude graph. 
  • If using classroom meetings, set aside time to have each student share one thing that he or she is grateful for and why. 
  • Write letters of gratitude and deliver them to people in the greater school community (e.g., janitors, food staff, secretaries, and administrators). 
  • Think of something you’re grateful for and then reframe it in their minds as a gift you’ve been given. Then, 1) notice that someone recognized they had a need and acted upon it; 2) appreciate the cost incurred by the person extending the gift, and 3) recognize the personal value of the gift they received
  • “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick
  • “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
  • “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy 
  • “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer 
  • “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus
  • “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” – G.B. Stern
  • “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark
  • “Gratitude is the best attitude.” – Unknown
  • “Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.” – Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” – William Faulkner
  • “Gratitude is the least of the virtues, but ingratitude is the worst of vices.” – Thomas Fuller
  • “Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” – Estonian proverb
  • “Gratitude is an opener of locked–up blessings.” – Marianne Williamson
  • “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” – Eric Hoffer
  • “When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.” – Chinese proverb

Gift of Happiness

Learning Objective: To help see the good in others and to express uplifting words to someone else

Materials: A large envelope and a piece of masking tape (one for each student); index cards


  • Each student receives a legal–size envelope and a piece of masking tape. 
  • Students write their names on the backs of the envelopes and decorate them any way they wish. 
  • Students are to write positive messages to the members of their group expressing a specific appreciation to each person. 
  • When all have finished writing their messages, they wait to deliver them until instructed to do so.
  • Students tape their envelopes to their backs with the name showing outward. 
  • After everyone has finished writing a message to each student in their group and all have taped envelopes to their backs, students walk around the room depositing the messages. 
  • When all have received their messages, allow them to read their messages.

Process and Reflection:

So What?

  • What were the words or phrases that your classmates used that made you feel good?
  • Can you identify the emotions you felt when you read what others wrote?
  • How should we respond?

Now What?

  • Why is it important to use kind words when we communicate with others?
  • What words or phrases had the most powerful affect on you?
  • What would be examples of what students say at our school when communicating with classmates? The good things said? The not-so-good things students say?
  • How would our class or school be different if what was said to others was kind and caring?

Saying Something Nice

Learning Objective: To support social and emotional development and provide positive guidance

Materials: A ball of thick white yarn


  • Introduce the activity by suggesting that we should try to spin a web as a group.
  • Have the students form a large circle (sitting down) and show them the white yarn.
  • Explain that you will begin spinning the web by holding the end of the yarn ball tightly in your lap and then picking a friend to toss the remaining ball. 
  • “I pick Jackson to help spin our web.”
  • When Jackson catches it, share something you like about him (i.e., “I like how Jackson shares with his friends”).
  • Remind Jackson to hold the yarn string tight in this lap, as he picks the next friend to toss the ball of yarn to.
  • The activity proceeds until the ball is complete, and the number of times a child is picked doesn’t matter unless of course, the circle has gone through everyone (with teacher assistance, “I think Mia would like to join our web”).
  • It’s fun to see how huge your life-size web has become. Sometimes it’s fun to see if the group can stand up together without getting tangled in it too.

Process and Reflection:

So What?

  • How did you feel when someone said something nice about you?
  • Why aren’t we always nice to others in our class?
  • What words should we use when we talk to others in our class?
  • Describe how you feel when you are recognized by others for something you have done or for how you have handled a situation.

Now What?

  • How do you like others to treat you?
  • What did we create with our kind words? 
  • What do you think it means to have created a web with the kind words we used in talking about the students in our class?
  • There are a variety of children’s books about gratitude that you can borrow from your local library. These include:
    • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    • Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
    • Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
    • The Thank You Book by Mo Willems.
    • See your library for more options of books to read with your children. Older children may want to read a few books about gratitude and try writing a story of their own.

What is Gratitude
The benefits of gratitude for children include increased feelings of well-being and reduced feelings of depression and disconnection. Studies have documented that positive relationships and even improved school satisfaction can result from introducing the practice of gratitude in schools. In this lesson, students will think critically, make meaningful personal connections and engage with others to share and develop ideas.

Gratitude Writing – Journals & Letters
Used sporadically this can be an effective activity for children and youth who enjoy journaling. The research suggests, however, that both forcing this activity and doing it too much (e.g. daily) will negate the benefits. Writing letters to someone expressing gratitude, on the other hand, is an alternate approach that gives children and youth more choices in the activity. Try Thnx4 online, a shareable 3-week gratitude journal created by the Greater Good Science Center.

Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens
Four lessons to help students understand the meaning of gratitude and how to cultivate it in their everyday lives.


40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude

Gifts From the Heart Are Gifts of the Heart by Michael Josephson
According to legend, a young man roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal–clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four–day journey, he presented the water to the old man, who took a deep drink, smiled warmly, and thanked his student lavishly for the sweet water. The young man returned to his village with a happy heart.

Later, the teacher let another student taste the water. He spat it out, saying it was awful. It apparently had become stale because of the old leather container. The student challenged his teacher: “Master, the water was foul. Why did you pretend to like it?”

The teacher replied, “You only tasted the water. I tasted the gift. The water was simply the container for an act of loving-kindness and nothing could be sweeter. Heartfelt gifts deserve the return gift of gratitude.”

I think we understand this lesson best when we receive innocent gifts of love from young children. Whether it’s a ceramic tray or a macaroni bracelet, the natural and proper response is appreciation and expressed thankfulness because we love the idea of the gift.

Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally. Unfortunately, most children and many adults value only the thing given rather than the feeling embodied in it. We should remind ourselves and teach our children about the beauty and purity of feelings and expressions of gratitude. After all, gifts from the heart are really gifts of the heart.