Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens ...

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Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens

Four lessons to help students understand the meaning of gratitude and how to cultivate it in their everyday lives.

Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens

Table of Contents

Introduction Lesson 1: Discover Your Grateful Self Lesson 2: See The Good Challenge

Gift of the Magi?Reading Gratitude Challenge?Activity Gratitude Journal?Activity Good Week Reflection?Activity Subtracting Good Things?Activity Lesson 3: Seeing The Good In Others Go Out And Fill Buckets?Activity Lesson 4: Thank You For Believing In Me Gratitude Letter

3 10 17

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Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens


Over the past two decades, studies have consistently found that people who practice gratitude report fewer symptoms of illness, including depression, more optimism and happiness, stronger relationships, more generous behavior, and many other benefits.

Further, research convincingly shows that, when compared with their less grateful peers, grateful youth are happier and more satisfied with their lives, friends, family, neighborhood, and selves. They also report more hope, engagement with their hobbies, higher GPAs, and less envy, depression, and materialism.

That's why the Greater Good Science Center launched the Youth Gratitude Project (YGP) as part of the broader Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, a multiyear project funded by the John Templeton Foundation. In addition to advancing the knowledge of how to measure and develop gratitude in children, the YGP created and tested a new gratitude curriculum for middle and high schoolers.

The main idea of the YGP curriculum is that varied gratitude practices should help students feel more socially competent and connected, be more satisfied with school, have better mental health and emotional well-being, and be more motivated about school and their future. For example, practices like journaling that genuinely build on students' strengths and guide them to have more meaningful interactions and regular discussion with peers, teachers, and other adults.

Preliminary evidence for the effects of the gratitude curriculum indicate that it is helping to decrease depression, anxiety, and antisocial behavior and increase hope, emotional regulation, and search for purpose.


How To Use The Lessons


Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens Introduction

In describing the design of the gratitude curriculum, lead researcher Dr. Giacomo Bono writes:

Gratitude interventions for students should start by identifying and engaging students' character strengths and interests, and they should let students appreciate the different benefits and benefactors in their lives for themselves. Let's go beyond lists and dry journals. When people "get" us and help us through tough times, gratitude grows.

Schools participating in the YGP curriculum have shared anecdotes about students' and parents' enthusiasm for the gratitude lessons. Indeed, the character strength and gratitude exercises have not only been affirmational--strengthening pride in students' achievements and building a sense of community--but, according to Dr. Bono, they have also been hijacking much of the wall space at Open Houses!

We sincerely hope that, as students begin to practice gratitude, they will begin to see the value of altruistic choices and recognize the good intentions of others, helping them to feel supported in reaching for the better.

Each lesson follows a consistent format:

Time Required: The time required is a suggested time based on feedback from educators who have taught the lesson. For the full benefit, lessons should be taught in their entirety, which may take one or two class periods.

Grade Level: The lessons were designed for both middle and high school students; however, teachers should feel free to adapt the lessons to meet the needs of their students.

Materials: The materials listed for each activity are deliberately simple and low-cost. An internet connection and a TV or projector will be required to show the videos. Links to PDFs of handouts and PowerPoint slides are included with the curriculum.

Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens Introduction

How To Use

Learning Objectives: The learning objective describes the knowl-

The Lessons (cont'd) edge, skills, and/or attitudes that are developed in each activity.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children learn and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to:

? Understand and manage emotions ? Set and achieve positive goals ? Feel and show empathy for others ? Establish and maintain positive relationships ? Make responsible decisions

Five social-emotional competencies have been identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as foundational. The table on the next page lists those competencies, and ways in which gratitude practices can support their development.

SEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one's emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one's strengths and limitations and possessing a wellgrounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-management: The ability to regulate one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

How Gratitude Practices Support This Competency

Students develop a deeper awareness of their thoughts and feelings when they reflect mindfully on their experience of gratitude. Choosing to express gratitude also enhances students' confidence and optimism.

Choosing to respond with gratitude, when experiencing kindness from others, requires students to regulate their thoughts, feelings and actions.



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