I am continually amazed at the way my gratitude journal has changed my life. That little book I keep on my bedside table has made me more aware of the good things in my life, and more thankful for the things I have. And, I’ve seen the same changes in my kids as I’ve shared the process of gratitude journaling with them. Keep reading to learn how you can use a gratitude journal for kids to help your children become more grateful.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can lead you to make changes in your life. A Gratitude Journal is a tool to allow you to be more aware of the positive things you are grateful for.
Gratitude journaling is the process of writing down what you are grateful for every day. It works best when it becomes a habit that can be done consistently, as science has proven this will increase happiness and well-being!
The exact format of the gratitude journal can vary. Whether you’re using a bullet journal or just drawing pictures, the most important thing is to make sure that you are using the journal regularly. This helps you to be more aware of the different things you are thankful for and develop an attitude of gratitude.
Why Should Kids Keep a Gratitude Journal?
There are a lot of scientific benefits of gratitude. The benefits of a gratitude journal include:
Feeling happier: Writing in a gratitude journal on a regular basis helps us be more aware of the good things in our lives, and this sense of gratitude leads to more happiness.
Focusing more on others: Research shows that kids who write in gratitude journals regularly are less likely to be materialistic or envious. Gratitude journals are an effective way to help kids learn how to think about others and not just themselves.
More friendships and less depression: This study showed that a gratitude practice gives people more social support and reduces feelings of depression.
Better sleep: The results in this study showed that people who write in a gratitude journal at the end of each day sleep longer and better at night.
Better eating habits: According to this study, grateful people are more likely to make healthy food choices. A gratitude journal might be the perfect way to help a picky eater in your family!
Better health: This study showed that people who are grateful are often more healthy and even more likely to live longer! Gratitude journals have a positive impact on physical health in many ways.
Gratitude journaling is a healthy habit for anyone to start! For kids, a gratitude journal can be an excellent resource for expressing emotions and learning about themselves. Kids are often so busy with the demands of life that they cannot take time out to reflect on their experiences in detail. Writing down what they’re grateful every day helps them notice just how much they have to be grateful for, even on hard days.
Related Post: 10 Reasons I’m Grateful for Homeschool
How Does a Gratitude Journal Help Kids Learn Thankfulness?
For kids, the ability to be grateful is not a skill that comes naturally at a young age. According to scientists at the Raising Grateful Children project at the University of North Carolina, teaching gratitude to kids includes 4 essential steps:
In the first step, kids recognize things that they are grateful for. These might be blessings that they find on their own or things that an adult points out to them. However, if a young child doesn’t notice the blessing they can’t be grateful for it.
Parents can help their kids notice blessings in their lives by taking time to brainstorm together about things to be grateful for.
Next, kids should take time to think about the reason for the thing that they are grateful for. Why do they have this great thing, or what caused it to happen?
Thinking about their blessings will help kids learn to appreciate both the blessing and the source of the blessing.
In this step, kids take the time to notice what it feels like to be grateful. Kids should think about what emotions they are feeling when they feel thankful for their blessings.
The final step in gratitude is for grateful kids to do something to show their appreciation for the blessing they have been given. Once kids work through the first 3 steps, they can learn to show their appreciation and express gratitude through their actions.
As parents, it’s easy to rush through the first steps and focus on our child’s behavior as they respond to the things they are grateful for. It is important to remember that kids need the space and time to process the feelings of gratitude. Kids will have a hard time expressing gratitude until they have had time to think about it first. A gratitude journal can be a great tool to help kids process these emotions.
Related Post: How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Your Homeschool
How Can My Kids Get Started with a Gratitude Journal?
Getting started with a gratitude journal for kids is easy! Here are the steps to follow.
Learn about Gratitude
Before you introduce a gratitude journal to your kids, it is important that they understand the idea of gratitude and thankfulness. Reading a book or two can be a great place to start. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems: In this book, the elephant and pig set out to say thank you to all the important people who have helped them. This book is a great way to start a discussion about the people your child has to be thankful for.
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli: The rhyming text and fun illustrations in this book remind kids to be thankful all the time, even for the little things.
God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn Bergren: This book is a wonderful fall story that reminds kids that the blessings we have in our lives come from God.
Bear Says Thanks by Jane Chapman: In this book, Bear decides to say thank you to all of his friends by throwing a dinner party for them. This book is a sweet story about thankfulness and friendship.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts: Although this is a picture book, it shares an important message about not comparing yourself to others and being thankful for the things you have.
Get a Gratitude Journal
The next step to starting a new habit of gratitude with your child is to purchase a great gratitude journal. You will want to look for a journal that is age appropriate for your child, and that is simple enough that even younger kids can complete the pages on their own.
Look for a journal that has space for your child to write or a blank page to draw, and inspirational quotes or simple prompts to help them focus on what they are grateful for. Gratitude journal prompts help kids overcome writer’s block and think creatively.
It is important that your child has their own journal where they can keep all of their thoughts together in one place. This will allow them to go back and re-read their daily entries in the future.
I have created a printable gratitude journal to help you! This journal includes writing prompts to guide kids through the notice-think-feel-do process of learning to be grateful. It is an easy way to help your kids get started with a daily gratitude journal habit. You can learn more and get the journal below.
Create a Gratitude Journal Routine
Next, it is important to figure out when and how your child will write in their journal. The key is to make gratitude journaling a consistent habit for your child. The best way to make journaling automatic is if you write in the journal at a set time each day, and if you make it a daily practice that you do consistently every day.
Be Grateful for the Small Things
When writing in a gratitude journal, we shouldn’t just write about the big things in our lives. In fact, one of the keys to gratitude journaling is to help kids learn to notice and be grateful for the small and simple joys in life. Even on a difficult day, help your child notice the little things that went well.
It’s also important to make sure that your child is as specific and detailed with what they write in their journal as possible. Kids will get more out of the experience if they take the time to think about why they are grateful for each item, rather than just making a list.
Journal With Your Kids
Gratitude journaling can be even more meaningful when it is a habit that your whole family practices together. When you take the time to journal with your kids, you are showing them that it is an important habit.
Make it Fun
Kids are always more likely to want to write in their gratitude journal when we make it fun. One way to do this is to get some special art supplies that are only used for gratitude journals. In my house, we love to use these ink pens which come in fun colors, last a long time, and don’t smear.
Get Your Own Gratitude Journal!
This printable gratitude journal will help your family get started with gratitude journaling.
Gratitude Journal for Kids
This downloadable PDF includes printable gratitude pages to fill out with your child. The prompts are designed to help your child learn to be grateful using the notice-think-feel-do process. Three different age levels of gratitude pages are included so that the whole family can use this resource together!
Related Post: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals for Homeschoolers
Thanksgiving Freebies, Activities, and Resources
Check out these fun Thanksgiving ideas to find inspiration for your homeschool all month long!
Gratitude and Thankfulness
Encourage the entire family to be more grateful with these tips for how to Teach Gratitude and Thanksgiving through Praise and Worship from In All You Do.
This post about Being Grateful When You Don’t Feel Like It from Julie Naturally will help you feel grateful even when life is hard.
These Five Thanksgiving Traditions That Bring Families Together from Geez, Gwen! are perfect to inspire you to add something new to your Thanksgiving plans.
Explore the history of Thanksgiving with this post about the History Behind our Thanksgiving Traditions from Homeschool On the Range.
This Free Native American Unit Study from With the Huddlestons will have your kids of all ages learning about the Native Americans.
Preschool and Elementary Ideas
These Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activity Printables from Blessed Homeschool are the perfect supplement to your Thanksgiving homeschool plans.
Try these Thanksgiving Homeschool Resources for a Low-Prep, Mini Unit Study from Whole Child Homeschool that are great for a stress free unit study.
Your kids will love these simple and inspiring Thanksgiving Homeschool Activities + Unit Studies from Homeschool with Moxie.
Enjoy some stress free thanksgiving family fun with these Free Printable Games and Activities for a Fun Family Thanksgiving from The WOLFe Pack.
Keep your kids entertained with these no-prep Thanksgiving Games: Spot the Difference from The Homeschool Cafe.
These Thanksgiving Theme Preschool Lesson Plans from Simple Living Mama are perfect for teaching your kids about the Thanksgiving story.
Learn how to put together the perfect seasonal morning basket with this post about a Thanksgiving Morning Basket from Heart and Soul Homeschooling.
Your lessons will be planned for you all month long when you grab these Thankful Morning Time Plans from Everyday Graces Homeschool.
Add music (and fun) into your homeschool this month with this Thanksgiving Music Lesson with Thanksgiving Printable Set from Music in Our Homeschool.
Beat Holiday Overwhelm
Encourage your out of the box kids to be successful this season with these 4 Fall Traditions and A Sensory Look at the Season from Inside Our Normal.
Learn how to help your kids learn while still having fun with this post about Thanksgiving and Kids – Learning and Playing All Season Long from Hess UnAcademy.
Learn how to keep your sanity this season with these tips about How to Homeschool During the Holidays Successfully from Some Call It Destiny.