Learning How to Practice Gratitude
Students will understand what gratitude is and engage in a gratitude practice.
- Gather students into a circle either seated in chairs or on the floor.
- Remind students about the raised hand attention signal and the talking piece.
- Welcoming: Circle time always begins with everyone being welcomed into the circle. Model welcoming a student and then have each student welcome the student sitting next to them. Be sure to rotate who sits where so students introduce different classmates. Example: “Hello Bella, welcome to our circle!”
- Optional: create a new greeting every week. For example, have students toss a small ball or bean bag to each other once they greet another student, then the student with the object greets the next student, etc.
- Once every student has been welcomed, retrieve the talking piece.
- SEL Focus: Tell students that today during their circle time, they are going to talk about gratitude and what they are grateful for.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Ask students: “What does gratitude mean? What does it mean to be grateful?”
- Chart student answers and come up with a class definition for gratitude. Use this definition as a guide: Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.
- After students share, explain that a strategy for feeling happy is to reflect on all of the things they are grateful for.
- Share that according to researchers at UC Davis, practicing gratitude every day can increase our happiness by 25%.
Guided Practice(15 minutes)
- Explain to students that they will now spend time reflecting on what they are grateful for and make gratitude cards.
- Emphasize that practicing gratitude is very different from making a list of things they are grateful for. Instead they must “feel” or “imagine” what they are grateful for to grow the energy of gratitude in their heart.
- Using the I Am Grateful worksheet have them follow the following steps:
- Step 1: Write down nouns you are grateful for. Invite students to really feel or connect with the image of each item they name. If they write down “home,” have them visualize their home. If they write down their pet’s name, have them visualize their pet. Share a personal example so students understand what is meant by a noun.
- Step 2: Now write down all the verbs you are grateful for. As students write, have them visualize themselves engaging in these actions: have them see themselves sleeping soundly, eating a delicious meal, listening to their favorite music, etc.
- Step 3: Finally, you will have students write down whatever they feel is connected to their web of life.
- First model your own gratitude web for students, then have them take note of who or what they are connected with, such as the farmers who grew the apples they love, the sanitation workers who keep their city clean, the cashier at the supermarket, etc.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Have the students remain in a circle.
- Instruct students to use their worksheets to draw a gratitude web through illustrating all of the things they are grateful for and feel connected to.
- Enrichment: Advanced students may create more complex gratitude webs.
- Support: Struggling students may need to be paired with the teacher or teacher’s aide initially during independent work time to make sure they can distinguish between nouns and verbs and truly understand what is meant by the "web of life."
- During independent work time, students should be demonstrating their understanding of interdependence through the "web of life" drawing.
- Look for students who need support.
- Use proximity and, if needed, sit closer to them and give clues and encouragement.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Pair students off as gratitude buddies and have them do a daily check-in where they talk about what they are grateful for.
- Encourage students to reflect on what they are grateful for before they go to bed and when they wake up in the morning.