Lesson plan

Fill My Cup (Gratitude Jar)

In this lesson, students will discuss, generate a list, and practice appropriate activities that may improve the way they feel. Students will engage in a gratitude practice and learn strategies for changing their mood.
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Students will be able to identify and practice gratitude strategies to support self-regulation when feeling stressed or tired.

(10 minutes)
  • Bring students into a circle, either seated in chairs or on the floor.
  • Using a 10-finger formative check-in, ask the students to put up 1–10 fingers based on how they are feeling (in which one finger indicates they are not well and 10 fingers indicates they are feeling great).
  • Look around the room to get a general sense of how students are feeling.
  • Ask students what tools we may use to improve or regulate how we feel (breath, movement, peace corner, singing, etc.).
  • Ask students if anyone knows what the word "regulate" means. Explain that regulate means to control.
  • Ask students if they are familiar with the word "gratitude." Explain that gratitude means being thankful for what we have, and it can be one way to lift our mood and improve how we feel.
  • Guide students in a gratitude practice session.
  • Ask them to sit upright comfortably and come to stillness (as much as they can) with quiet bodies.
  • Ask students to close their eyes or look down on the floor and to feel their breath right at their nose, chest, or belly.
  • Guide them to place their hand on their heart and to feel their breath at their heart center.
  • Ask them to imagine all the things they are grateful for (their friends, animals, trees, caring adult, a teacher, etc.).
  • Ask them to imagine that all these things and people are here with them right now and to notice how they feel in their heart. (They may not feel anything and that is okay, too.)
  • Explain that it may be a little hard to do at first, but over time this gratitude practice can get easier.
  • Ask students to take a few deep breaths and to open their eyes when they are ready.
  • Ask students how they felt. What did they notice? What did they bring to mind that they are grateful for?
  • Explain to students that they will go back to their seats and write about and/or draw pictures of the things they are grateful for in a handout.
  • Show students the Gratitude Jar (or Gratitude Box) at the front of the room.
  • Explain to them that while they work at their seats, they will be asked to come up one at a time and decorate the Gratitude Jar/Box, either by tying a ribbon or drawing a picture on it. Then, they will be asked to draw a picture (or write a word) on a slip of paper of one thing they are grateful for. Everyone will place their slips of paper in the jar to make it their very own.
  • Explain to students that they will draw their gratitudes each day, and the jar will always be left out on display for them to place a message of gratitude in it.
(5 minutes)
  • Read through An Awesome Book of Thanks! by Dallas Clayton.
  • Pause as you read through the book and ask students what, who, and why questions related to gratitude and the plot of the book.
  • At the end of the book, ask them what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  • Review the directions on the Gratitude Jar worksheet, and give students an example of something they could draw or write.
  • Model how students can come up, design the Gratitude Jar/Box (place a ribbon or draw a picture/heart on the jar's construction paper), and complete the gratitude drawing or word on a slip of paper to be placed in the jar.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask a student volunteer to demonstrate for the class how to come up, design the Gratitude Jar/Box, and complete one gratitude to place in the jar.
(25 minutes)
  • Ask students to return to their seats and complete the Gratitude Jar worksheet, in which they will write and draw all the things they are grateful for.

Enrichment: Students who finish the Gratitude Jar worksheet early may write a gratitude letter to someone they love (on the handout).

Support: Provide visuals and models for the Gratitude Jar worksheet.

(5 minutes)
  • Observe students during the independent working time. You may also collect their handouts to check for understanding of gratitude exercises.
(5 minutes)
  • After all students have completed their Gratitude Jar worksheet, ask some of them to come up and show the class what they drew or wrote about, and to talk about who/what they are grateful for.
  • Ask students how they felt when completing the handout and activity.
  • Ask if they have any questions.
  • Ask students how the class may use the Gratitude Jar/Box. Remind them that they can write gratitudes and place them in the jar at any time.
  • Ask how practicing gratitude can help us shift or regulate how we feel.

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