Looking for a social emotional learning activity that increases positive attitudes and enthusiasm? Try these gratitude journaling worksheets. Research shows that people who note something they are thankful for each week have a more positive outlook and are more likely to reach their goals. They also are more likely to show empathy and kindness to others.
Benefits of gratitude journaling
Gratitude journaling provides tons of social emotional benefits for kids (and adults.) According to research just a few of the benefits kids can gain from gratitude journaling are:
- Increases empathy
- Reduces aggression
- Improves self-esteem
- Increases determination and the ability to reach goals
- Improves relationships
- Improves physical health
For young people in particular, a study shows that children who note things they are grateful for have more positive attitudes toward school and family while young adults who kept gratitude journals had higher levels of determination and more positive states of alertness. So if you want to help kids and teens increase empathy, kindness and positive attitudes toward life, give a gratitude journal a try.
How the gratitude journal works
Print one of the worksheets below and have students note something each day that they are thankful for. It can be something simple, like "it's sunny today", or something heartfelt, like "my dog comforted me when I was sad." The important step is to have kids pause for a moment each day to recognize something that makes them thankful in their life. According to researchers, gratitude journals help people manage the ups and downs of emotions, and remind them that even when we are sad, there are happy things to cheer us up.
Choose a gratitude journal for the age of the students:
Elementary School Age:
Download and print this gratitude journaling worksheet for younger students (grades K-5). Each day students write something they are thankful for. At the end of the week, encourage students to look back at the things they noted, and to observe whether the journal affected their outlook. Plus the repetitive pattern coloring on the worksheet makes a nice mindfulness activity to calm students and to prompt reflection.
Middle School / High School Age:
See the full lesson notes for this activity and download the worksheet at our sister site: Truth Be Told Quotes. For this SEL activity (great for health curriculums), students write something each day that they are thankful for, and note their general outlook / level of happiness. At the end of the week, students reflect on how gratitude impacted their happiness, energy levels, determination, etc. This activity works well with our other teen SEL activities on happiness and managing emotions.