The Thanks I Didn't Say
- Identify someone who showed kindness through caring and helpful actions
- Write and share a letter of gratitude
When students reflect on the impact of others’ caring and helpful actions towards them, and write letters of gratitude in response, research has found a positive impact on their life satisfaction and motivation to improve themselves. Educators should encourage students to practice mindfulness as they recognize moments of gratitude, and kindness to express their appreciation for those who have helped them.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Introduce the activity to students by explaining: “Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference! But sometimes, we miss the opportunity to express gratitude for people who made a positive impact on our lives. Can you remember a time when someone showed you kindness, but you didn't get a chance to say "thank you" to them? This person might be a teacher, classmate, family member, or neighbor!”
- Invite students to write a letter to express gratitude to this person (e.g., by using the "Thank You" letter template). In their letter, students might describe a specific action they are grateful for, how it made them feel, and why it was meaningful to them.
- If students are comfortable, encourage them to send or deliver their letters to the recipient. Students can also share their appreciation in another way of their choice (e.g., with a small gift or kind gesture). Then, ask them how it felt to finally say “thank you”, and how it might have made the other person feel.
- Consider making this letter-writing activity a recurring assignment for students (e.g., once a week) to foster students’ mindfulness as they notice and express their emotions, and to maximize the positive impact of this activity on their motivation and life satisfaction.
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.