Gratitude Journals: A (Free!) Way to Teach Kids Appreciation


I believe one of my biggest goals as a mother, is to teach my children to appreciate what they have and help those who are less fortunate.

I’ve done a lot of things over the years to implement this. We have volunteered as the girls have gotten older; this year my oldest is eligible to be a partner with a Special Olympics participant. Last year we assisted at a few practice sessions for Special Olympics. We’ve donated items to those in need and given food to the homeless. And we talk a lot about how lucky we are and how grateful we need to be because we are healthy and happy.

I have started a new activity in our family: gratitude journals.

My daughters are old enough now to write, and even if they were a bit younger I believe I could do this activity by incorporating pictures into the journals rather than words.

I started this off by:

  • Purchasing each kid a notebook that serves as their gratitude journal.
  • Buying a packet of scrapbooking stickers for them to use as they write in their journals and/or on the cover of their journals.
  • Giving each kid a special pen to use during this activity.

Then, I explained to the girls how these gratitude journals work. In our home, we will do the following:

1. Each day the girls will write down one thing for which they are grateful. This might be:

a.       Something that happened to them that day

b.      Something a friend did for them

c.       Something they have

d.      Something they did for someone else

2. The girls will explain why they are thankful for this item and then can draw a picture to illustrate it.

3. We will read over the entries (if they wish) together and talk about them.

This is not just an activity for my girls, though. I started a gratitude journal some time ago. I did so after feeling aggravated about something I couldn’t do that I wanted to do. As I finished up my yoga practice and did five minutes of breathing time, I remembered that all of the time we spend feeling frustrated about what we DON’T have, is actually time we don’t have to spend on feeling grateful for what we DO have.

Besides, we all know how negative thoughts turn into more negative thoughts while positive thoughts make us more positive people. So while the girls are writing in their gratitude journals each evening, I do the same. It’s amazing what ten or fifteen minutes of sitting down and thinking about what we are thankful for can do for your overall outlook.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? Do your children? Is this something you believe could be beneficial?

Photo via Flickr: Walt Stoneburner