Skip to content
Teaching Resources

Building a Culture of Gratitude in the Classroom

While Thanksgiving traditionally involves good food and family bonding, it is also a time for reflection on the previous year and all that we are thankful for. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity for schools to come together as a community and build a culture of gratitude in their classrooms. Read on to learn ways to maximize the spirit of this national holiday and teach students the importance of appreciation, gratitude, and giving back.


  1. Have students cut construction paper into the shape of a leaf. Ask the students to write down what they are thankful for on their cut-out leaf. This is a great time for them to reflect on the meaningful things in their lives and express their creativity. Once each student has made their individual leaf, post the leaves onto a paper tree on a bulletin board so they can see what it looks like when all of their gratitude comes together.
  2. Ask students to choose one important person in their life who they want to express their thanks to. Ask them to make a thank-you card for that person, decorating it and writing a thoughtful message. They will hand-deliver this message of thanks. This project is intended to spread gratitude into the community, sharing kindness with others outside of the school.


  1. Have students listen to or read a story about immigrants or other cultures to help them gain a better understanding of what true cultural exchange can look like. Hearing modern experiences provides students with a new perspective on the origins of this holiday by putting it in the context of something more familiar to them.
  2. Host a classwide Thanksgiving potluck featuring foods traditional to each student’s family. Students can help make a dish with their family and bring it in to share with the class. Not only is this activity a way for students to learn some cooking skills, but it is a great opportunity for them to learn more about the cultural backgrounds of their classmates. Students can also talk with their parents about family traditions to help them better understand their own cultural identity.

Community Outreach

  1. Hold a schoolwide food drive in which students bring in canned goods to donate to a local food bank. You may choose to set up a friendly competition between grades to encourage donations. The results of this endeavor will help to feed those in need at Thanksgiving.
  2. Bring your class on a field trip to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Have them learn about the various steps it takes to successfully run a soup kitchen each day. This activity can provide students with a new perspective and teach them the importance of service and giving back to their neighbors.

At Participate Learning, we are so thankful for our students and teachers who empower us to find ways to constantly work to achieve our mission of creating global, cultural, and language connections that empower students and educators to positively impact the world. Without them, none of our work would be possible.

To further incorporate Thanksgiving into your lessons, check out this infographic on the environmental impact of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. For more classroom resources, visit our webpage or contact us directly.

Share this Post

More on the blog