Outside the Classroom

Help Your Students Spread Thanks This Holiday Season

The holidays are often a time to reflect, offer gratitude, and spend time with loved ones. During this time, though, stress levels run high with shopping, meal prep, holiday travel, and more. Too often, people don’t stop to truly enjoy their good fortune, and taking time to spread thanks can help with that.

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A few years ago, I found myself looking for ways to bring down my own stress level and increase my happiness; no easy task! Then it came to me: I needed to spread thanks! It was simple—by taking the time each day to think about one person I was grateful for and to handwrite a note telling them that, I became more fulfilled, mindful, and happier.

In the years since I started doing this, I’ve noticed wonderful changes in my life, and I know this is something anyone engaging in this practice will experience, too. But as we get older and our lives get more hectic, it becomes more and more difficult to find the time to begin and keep new habits, so what better time to start than during childhood?

Spread Thanks This Holiday Season

We all know we should spend our holidays expressing gratitude to our loved ones, but how many of us actually take the time to do that? All it takes is a few minutes each day and a few dollars for thank you cards and stamps. It’s so easy, educators and parents can get their kids doing this right now!

One of the most important parts of this process is to express your thanks in your own handwriting. Writing a note by hand adds a personal touch to your thank you cards, and for young students, it also helps them practice their penmanship, writing, and reading skills. A win-win!

Getting Started

There are three steps to this process that’ll help you and your students find success as you embark on the journey of spreading thanks. Step One is to simply pay attention to the world around you. Being more mindful throughout your day will help you recognize who deserves your thanks and notice the many good things that happen to you each and every day.

Step Two is to write your note. Some people may find this very easy, but for those who don’t, the easiest way to get started is to think about why you’re grateful to the person you’re writing to, and then write that reason down. The length of your note doesn’t matter; as long as what you’re saying is genuine, you’ve done it correctly!

And Step Three is to record the good things that happen to you in a daily journal. You may not notice one of these every day at first, but I’m sure you’ll find more good things happen to you than you realize if you just start paying closer attention.

Creating a Web of Gratitude

This is a great practice to get into no matter your age, but especially for students, who will grow socially and emotionally, and perhaps even academically, as well as better understand the value of doing good.

Establishing a ritual around this practice is the best way to keep it going. Perhaps your class ritual is to have students write thank you notes before going off to recess or lunch, or maybe you start or end the school day with this practice. It doesn’t matter how you find the time to do it so long as you do!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Spread Thanks movement, please visit my website and check out my new book, Spread Thanks: Create Miracles Through the Power of Ink. And thank you for helping change the world, one thank you note at a time!

About the Author


Elena Anguita

Elena Anguita is a change agent, author, and speaker who passionately supports education, literacy, and helping people learn. Additionally, she works closely with K–12 schools to provide solutions to help educators be more productive and to help students succeed. In 2017, she launched the 'Spread Thanks' movement to encourage personal gratefulness through the sending of daily thank you notes. Elena lives in Pennsylvania and has a gift for connecting people and ideas in miraculous ways