Expressing Gratitude - Novice High

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes: Students will recognize positive feelings through answering questions about gratitude, and they will experience and express positive feelings through saying 'thank you' to someone. Language Learning Outcomes: Students will connect content to background knowledge, create language based on memorized phrases and formulaic speech, and actively participate in conversations through proper responses.

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. recognize positive feelings through answering questions about gratitude.
  2. experience and express positive feelings through saying 'thank you' to someone.

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. connect content to background knowledge.
  2. create language based on memorized phrases and formulaic speech.
  3. actively participate in conversations through proper responses.

Materials Needed

Note: Please make sure you have at least 10-15 minutes for the last activity.


Explain to the students that today you will continue the discussion from a few weeks ago about gratitude. You will review what you learned previously and learn new ways to express gratitude. Towards the end of the lesson, you will express gratitude to someone directly or in an email/text message or letter.

Activate Background Knowledge

Remind the students that a few weeks ago you have talked about phrases that can be used to express gratitude. Does anyone remember any of those phrases? ( I am grateful /thankful for_____________ because____________) or I feel gratitude for __________________ because _________.

Next, review the vocabulary words that can be used when expressing gratitude (see PowerPoint). Add more things to that list by asking students for other ideas. Write the new words on the board.

Activity 1: Listening/Speaking

Using the information just reviewed, play Grateful Charades

This can be played as a class or in groups of 3-5 students. Decide how you're going to play it before the activity starts. One option is to play a couple of rounds together as a class and then split your students in smaller groups to continue the activity.


  • Give each student 3 pieces of paper or have each of them get their own 3 pieces of paper. Each student writes 3 things they are grateful for following the format I am grateful for _____________ or I feel gratitude for __________________. Make sure they write one thing on each paper, fold it over, and place it in a bowl, hat, bag or in a pile on a desk.
  • Explain how to play Charades. This will be a variation of the original game. Try to make this a listening/speaking activity by having the students use words to describe what they see on their paper so that other people can guess the word. For example, if their word is home/house, they can describe it as a building with people and furniture (table, couch, etc.) and different rooms (living room, kitchen, etc.). If the proficiency level of the students does not allow for this, then have students draw or act out their word.

It is important to do this next part because each person has what they’re grateful for mirrored back to them and is reminded of the emotion associated with it.

  • Once someone has guessed correctly, recap the answer by saying “You’re grateful for…. and by asking "How do you feel about it?” or "Who else in the group is grateful for the same thing?"
  • Don’t worry about splitting into teams or having a timer like typical charades. We’re skipping the competitive element.
  • To close out the game take a few moments to discuss all or some of the questions below.
  • What was your favorite part of Grateful Charades?
  • Were there items that were acted out that weren’t yours, that you’re also grateful for? Share a few of those items with one another.
  • How does having an attitude of gratitude positively affect our relationships with one another? or How does being grateful affect our relationship with others?

Activity 2: Listening/Speaking

Let's learn a couple of other ways to express gratitude.

In addition to I am thankful for and I feel gratitude for, there are a couple of other very commonly used expressions for gratitude. Write the following expressions on the board and have your students practice saying them.

  • I appreciate this/it!
  • I appreciate you!
  • I appreciate ________________ ( a thing or a person).
  • That means so much to me!
  • You mean so much to me!

For practice, have your students role play with a partner. One student pays a compliment and the other student responds with one of the above expressions. Next, switch roles. Ex: Your shirt is very nice. Thank you! I appreciate that. Teacher models first.

We talked about how to express gratitude and now let's talk about when we express gratitude. Ask the students to name a few situations when we express gratitude. Write those on the board as the students shout them out. (Ex. when someone does something nice for us, at the store, at home, with our friends, at work or at school, etc.)

Activity 3: Listening/Speaking

On March 8 people in many parts of the world celebrate International Women/Mother's Day. Is this something you celebrate in your country on March 8th? On this day, many people thank their mothers/wives/daughters/sisters, etc. by writing notes to them, calling them on the phone, buying them flowers and small gifts.

For our next activity, let's watch a video of some people calling their mother to say 'thank you.' As we watch this, please pay attention to the expressions we have learned today and to your feelings. (Start watching at second :52)

People Call Moms and Say I Love You

Now it's your turn

Please explain to your students that this next activity can be done in English or in their native language. The purpose is to have students do it in whichever language they feel more comfortable in or the other person speaks.

Think of a person in your life (a parent, teacher, friend, etc.) to whom you would like to say 'thank you.' Take 2 minutes to write down some things about that person that make him/her special. If it's possible, please call that person right now and thank them. If it is not possible to do so now, please write them an email/text message and send it to them right away. You can do so in English or in your native language.

Class Discussion: How do you feel? What was easy? What was difficult?


Record yourself explaining how you feel about calling or writing a thank you message for someone. 

  • What was difficult about doing that? 
  • What was easy? 
  • How do you think the other person felt?


Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday:

With a partner share 3 things you are grateful for today. Make sure you use one or more of the expressions we learned: I am grateful for..., I feel gratitude for..., I appreciate..., ______ (a person or thing) means so much to me.

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