Gratitude Journal for Students

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins

Time Required

5-10 minutes a day, daily for two weeks

How to Do It

In this exercise, you will guide students to complete the Gratitude Journal practice, where they make a list of things they feel grateful for.

To introduce the exercise, the following prompt may be helpful:

Grateful or thankful is the feeling we get when something good happens to us. Many of us feel grateful for family, friends, or pets. Feeling grateful could also come from a time when someone helped you. An example could be that you were having difficulty understanding your homework. You asked your older brother or sister or a parent to help you. They spent some time with you helping you to understand the assignment.

Think back over the past day and write down up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.

Research on this practice involved students in grades 6-7, but it can be adapted to other age groups.

When teaching about gratitude in a school setting, it is important to keep in mind that students differ in terms of culture, race, socioeconomic status, and religious background. This may mean that they also differ in the way they express and practice gratitude, including verbal expressions, gestures, acts of kindness or caring, rituals, or gifts. Welcoming discussion of these and other differences in the classroom will deepen students' understanding of gratitude.

In addition, the experience of gratitude may be challenging for children facing personal struggles, community suffering, or systemic inequality. Rather than simply encouraging them to “look on the bright side,” researchers Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono suggest listening deeply, empathizing, and acknowledging their feelings. This can help them cultivate resilience, which—along with other qualities like self-compassion and hope—could help plant the seeds for gratefulness.

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins

Why You Should Try It

Adolescence can be a tumultuous time, as students face stress both in their social life and their academic life. By orienting students toward positive experiences and good relationships, the Gratitude Journal can help counterbalance these difficulties.

In particular, research suggests that gratitude journaling can help students become more satisfied with their school experience—which, in turn, helps them see school as more enjoyable, interesting, and educational, an attitude that sets them up for success inside and outside the classroom.

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins

Evidence That It Works

Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. The Journal of School Psychology, 46(2), 213-233.

In this study, students in grades 6-7 who completed Gratitude Journals daily for two weeks ended up being more satisfied with their school—even three weeks afterward—than students who didn’t do any journaling. Compared to students who journaled about their hassles, they also felt less negative emotion, greater satisfaction with their home, and more optimism.

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins

Why It Works

In order to keep a Gratitude Journal, students have to reflect on their days and remember the good parts. Students who have tried out this exercise tend to express their gratitude for a variety of things, including friends and family, their teachers and school, and basic needs like food and clothing.

Over time, this practice teaches students to pay more attention to the kindness of others—small acts that they might not have noticed otherwise. And it helps extend and expand feelings of thankfulness in response to those blessings. What’s more, actually writing things down is key: Research suggests translating thoughts into concrete language makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins


Jeffrey J. Froh, Ph.D., Hofstra University

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins

For More

Difficulty: Casual | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 10 mins

A Gratitude Journal can remind students of the things, both large and small, that they have to be thankful for. Do you have an attitude of gratitude? Take our Gratitude quiz to find out:

Completion Status

Comments & Reviews

  1. Aysha
    September 13, 2018

    First of all I'm grateful and thankful that I am alive, in good health, have got all my needs in order to survive. Grateful for every second that I am inhaling and exhaling air. I am thankful for all the people that I am surrounded with, family and friends, thankful for this circle of people for changing my life and making it an incredible one. I am blessed with the most caring and loving friends ever, and I can't stop thanking God for having them in my life. My friends are my second family, 15 sisters from another mother. I am blessed to have the most incredible and supportive brothers ever, and a sister who's a best friend and a mother as well. Ofcourse my favorite two role models mom and dad as well. I am grateful for everything in my life, specially the small little things that yet mean a lot. Thankful.

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