30 days of gratitude

30 Days of Gratitude | November--this most "thankful" of months--is a perfect time to cultivate gratitude in your family.

The word “writing” can strike fear in young hearts because children tend to associate it with lengthy and often-painful tasks such as essays and stories.

But as I’ve frequently shared here on my blog, writing can truly be as simple as making lists, playing word games, or publishing a story as a craft. By offering your children a varied writing diet, they learn to enjoy appetizers and desserts along with the main meal.

One way to inspire writing is through focused journals such as a diary of a vacation, a memory book about a special friend or family member, or reflections on a season or holiday. Today, I’d like to encourage you and your family to focus your journaling on 30 days of gratitude.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Does your home more closely resemble Grumbletown? Is everyone wearing you down with their bickering and squabbling? Are tempers flaring? Do you find yourself long on complaints and short on compliments?

Sounds like you or your children may be in need of an attitude makeover, and November—this most “thankful” of months—makes a perfect time to cultivate gratitude in your family.

Many people (myself included) are taking the opportunity to journal every day about the things we’re thankful for. These journalings go by different names, but they all serve the same purpose: To count our blessings and record them. It’s a way to purposefully acknowledge our gratitude for those things, both large and small.

Plan Your Journal

30 Days of Gratitude | Keeping a Gratitude JournalWhen I say “journal,” don’t break into a cold sweat on me, OK? For this little project, I’m only asking for a sentence (or two or three).

Are you breathing easier now? Good. Then let’s talk about how to actually do this!

First, everyone needs to decide where and how to record their thoughts. Each person needs an outlet—and the choices are many!


  • Notebook. Keep a daily journal in a something as elegant as a leather diary or as simple as a spiral notebook.
  • Blog. Record your journal online, if you have a blog.
  • Journal Jar. Scribble your thanks on scraps of paper and store them in a mason jar or small box.

It’s very possible that you might have four family members journaling their thankful thoughts in four different ways. Yay for diversity!

Next, choose a name for your Thanksgiving gratitude project. Here are a few ideas:

  • Gratitude Journal
  • 30 Days of Gratitude
  • Thankful Project
  • My Thankful Box
  • I Am Thankful

Count Your Blessings

Ponder a bit. What makes you thankful? At first, the obvious will pop into your minds: Food, family, friends, faith. But encourage your children to look for hidden, unexpected, or less obvious things too, such as the smell of clean hair, hugs from Nana, a warm bed, a kind deed.

Write Them Down

Younger children can write one thing every day. Older children and adults can write five things you’re grateful for. Whether each note is brief or lengthy, it should be personally meaningful.

Make It Personal

If you wish, you and your children can make your journal or box even more personal by including quotations, Bible verses, or photographs.

Journal Faithfully

Keep your gratitude journals for the entire month of November—or at least through Thanksgiving. As a special Thanksgiving Day activity, invite each family member to share one or two excerpts from their journals.

With everyone’s hearts and minds turned toward giving thanks and recording blessings, I know that renewed attitudes and more pleasant temperaments will be the refreshing outcome.

I hope you’ll join me! Will you take the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge? Leave a comment to let me know.

I'm nominated!
If one is good, two must be better


  • Posted November 4, 2010


    What a great idea! I’m going to have my son start a gratitude jar today!

  • Posted November 4, 2010


    Thanks for sharing this, Sandy. It’s much more fun for me to post tips and ideas when I know someone is actually applying them! :)

  • Posted November 4, 2010


    If you happen to be a classroom teacher, here’s a gratitude journal challenge! Create and decorate a whole-class “blessings journal.” Keep it in a prominent place on your desk. At the end of the day, contribute as a class to the journal: what are we thankful for today, what blessings happened in our lives today that we wish to remember, what do we celebrate about each other? This simple act goes a long way to smoothing out the wrinkles that can take place on a daily basis in a classroom of 20-30 students. It sends them home in a more reflective, more aware, more thoughtful state. Over time, one begins to see spiritual and emotional growth within the lives of the kids as individuals and as a group, from the act of reflecting together on the day’s blessings. They begin to actively look for the good in everything and within their classmates, for happy contributions to the blessings journal at day’s end.

  • Posted November 4, 2010


    What an outstanding idea, Janet! I can also see families applying this when individual journals or jars aren’t practical.

    Thank you for coming by every day to contribute a comment or add another great suggestion. I really appreciate you!

  • Posted November 4, 2010


    You’re quite welcome, Kim! I appreciate you, and your call to help parents/teachers inspire young writers, as well!

    Another twist on the classroom blessings journal is to write and build a “blessings chain.” Each day, on a paper strip, print one thing that the kids wish to celebrate happening that day. Build a paper chain to drape around the room, and watch, in a very visible and tangible manner, the chain of God’s blessings grow. We did that one year, and parents would sometimes ask to fasten their own paper links to the class blessings chain. It was really cool! (This was in a public school, by the way…she writes with a sly grin!)

  • Posted November 4, 2010


    (sly grin right back)

    Another stellar idea! I love all the creative ways parents and teachers can incorporate writing into the everyday realm, helping students recognize that writing takes many forms. This is where the rubber truly meets the road.

  • Posted November 5, 2010

    Samantha@The Kelley Eight

    I have a journal, and have been doing the daily FB thankful post, but want to do something I can really look back in the future. I would love to do the chain in our homeschool, and journal on my own 😀

  • Posted November 5, 2010


    Hi, Samantha! Thanks for stopping by!

    Don’t you just love Janet’s chain idea? I’ve been posting my “30 Days” journal on FB each day, but I’ve also been saving them to a Word doc so that I have a written record of my thoughts.

    I’ve already noticed a difference in my thinking and my actions since starting the gratitude journal. :)

  • Posted November 5, 2010


    A fortune cookie slip taped to my refrigerator: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

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  • Posted November 7, 2010

    amy in peru

    I’m doing this, this year on my blog… I’m on day 6 so far. :)

    My boys are also going to be doing a ‘focus’ journal as they accompany their dad on a jungle river trip next week… I’m thinking they’ll probably have to start their own blog soon to document all the excitement 😉

    amy in peru

    • Posted November 7, 2010


      Good for you, Amy! And what a great journaling opportunity for your boys, too. Now I’m off to your blog to read your gratitude journal!

  • Posted November 29, 2013


    Love this! Especially the jar!
    I’ve been writing and have kept gratitude journals off and on for decades. Wanted to begin again because it IS such a good antidote to negativity and reminds me how beautiful life is…and i just haven’t found the spark. The jar did it! My gratitude to you!

    • Posted December 3, 2013

      Kim Kautzer

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Melani. It made me smile to know the gratitude jar idea produced that spark you were looking for. Happy journaling!

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