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Teach Gratitude with Thank You Note Writing

Learn eight strategies to teach gratitude with thank you note writing.

Do you teach thank you note writing in your classroom?

It is important to find effective ways to teach students gratitude. Developing and maintaining an attitude of appreciation is an invaluable life skill. 

One of the best ways to help encourage students to practice gratitude is by incorporating thank you note writing into your middle school ELA curriculum. 

I love using lessons about gratitude and thank you note writing during Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day or at the end of the school year. A short lesson on thank you note writing can provide a break for students and teachers from the regular ELA program.  

How can you bring gratitude into your writing program? Check out these strategies.

8 Strategies to Teach Gratitude with Thank You Note Writing


Explain Why Gratitude Is Important

Students need to “buy in” to your lessons. Start with having a class discussion about why it is important to regularly demonstrate gratitude. 

Share examples of why gratitude is important, such as:  

  • It can improve relationships
  • It can encourage kindness
  • It can make people happier
  • It can strengthen self-esteem 
  • It can create a positive classroom environment 

This can lead to thank you note writing and why it is important to write thank you notes to express gratitude.

Share Personal Experiences

Share any personal experiences with gratitude that are relevant to your lesson. For example, do you send thank you notes, texts, or emails to people who give you gifts or go out of their way to help you? 

When you share your own experiences with thank you note writing, the concept becomes more relatable to your students. This can help them gain insight into different ways that gratitude can be expressed, and the effects it can have on the person writing the thank you note and the person receiving it. 

Model Gratitude 

Students need to see examples of the behaviour we want to instill in them. As a teacher, you are a role model. Have you considered writing thank you notes to your students, colleagues, or school staff members as visible examples of expressing appreciation?

Thank you note writing can provide an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the effort that people put into their work. This can be particularly meaningful for students who may not always receive recognition for their efforts. 

Teach The Skill

As with many types of writing, you should explicitly teach the skill of thank you note writing to students. Start with explaining the purpose and then break down the different parts of a thank you note: 

  • Greeting
  • Expression of gratitude
  • Specific mention of the gift or act of kindness
  • Closing

Remember that thank you notes should not be generic – add a personal touch, such as an anecdote or shared memory, to make your note feel more authentic and heartfelt.  

Provide Templates

Provide templates or examples to scaffold students’ writing until they become comfortable with the format. You can find no prep templates in this Thank You Note Template and Thank You Card Writing Lesson.

This lesson provides templates in graphic organizer format that help students learn each step of the process of thank you note writing. 

If you love the graphic organizer format of learning various writing skills, you may also want to check out my Cover Letter and Resume Writing Unit Career Lessons or my Argumentative Essay Writing Unit

Find Real-World Contexts 

Provide class time for students to write thank you notes to family, community volunteers, coaches, classmates, teachers, or local businesses that support the school. This is a great activity during Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day or at the end of the school year

Integrate thank you note writing into various subject areas. For example, students can write thank you notes to guest speakers, authors, or community members who have visited the school and provided a service.

Other ways to integrate thank you note writing into other subject areas can include: 

  1. Art Class: Have students create thank you notes or illustrate them with drawings, paintings, or other visual elements. 
  2. Math: What is the cost of thank you note writing? Have students compile a list of tools that can be used to write thank you notes – including cards and postage – and figure out the cost. This could also work within a budgeting lesson.
  3. Science: How does the act of gratitude affect mental and emotional well-being? Look at the benefits of thank you note writing with your students. 
  4. Health: Have students write thank you notes to their classmates for acts of kindness or supportive teamwork. Encourage them to write a weekly thank you note expressing their appreciation. 

Your students may also be surprised that some restaurants incorporate personalized thank you note writing on their takeout containers and bags. You can learn more in this Podcast Listening Comprehension Lesson – Personalized Notes on Takeout Containers

Use Thank You Notes as Assessment Tools 

Assess students’ writing skills and understanding of the lesson by evaluating their thank you notes. Provide feedback on content, clarity and grammar, and expression of gratitude to help them improve. 

However, while it’s important to help students evaluate their thank you note writing, try not to detract from their genuine nature; students should still be able to authentically express their gratitude without feeling they’re being graded every time.

Grammar lessons are perfect to review when working on thank you notes or small-scale writing. You can find all 2 Peas and a Dog grammar lessons on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD

Integrate Digital Citizenship

In today’s digital age, consider allowing students to create and send digital thank you notes. This can provide opportunities to discuss digital etiquette and digital citizenship, as well as help students understand how gratitude can be expressed in different ways. 

For additional digital citizenship lessons, check out the blog post, Engaging Middle School Digital Citizenship Lessons.

By integrating thank you note writing into your middle school ELA curriculum, you are teaching students a practical life skill and strengthening their relationships with others. They also learn that writing comes in many forms – not just essays. 

No Prep, Ready to Use Thank You Note Writing Lesson

You don’t need to start from scratch when teaching thank you note writing. Instead, use this Thank You Note Writing Lesson with 8 thank you card templates, graphic organizers, and a lesson plan on how to write a thank you note. 

Students will learn how to properly format and write a thank you note. They will brainstorm a list of recipients and use the provided templates to write their notes following the provided guidelines.

Use these Thank You Note Templates for your next middle school thank you card writing lesson. Students will learn how to properly format and write a thank you to someone who has done something nice for them.

This lesson includes:  

  • Detailed Lesson Plan
  • Graphic Organizers
  • 8 Thank You Note Templates
  • Level-Based Rubric
  • Points-Based Rubric
  • Print & Digital Formats

You can find the Thank You Note Template and Thank You Card Writing Lesson on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD

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