Got Things to be Thankful for? Grow a School-Wide Gratitude Chain!

Things-to-be-thankful-for:  Blog post title with happy, smiling lady holding a long, thankfulness paper chain

Got things to be thankful for? Then make a chain, chain, chain with your class, your school, or at home! There is always something to be thankful for, and making a thankfulness chain – or a gratitude paper chain is EASY and FUN and a great reminder to have an attitude of gratitude. Perfect for November or anytime you need a reminder of what to be thankful for today!

Attitude of Gratitude

November is my favorite month for a LOT of reasons. It's my birthday month that I also share with my mom and two of my nephews, it's my anniversary month, and it's in my favorite season. I love fall most of all! I was raised to be thankful and to show gratitude, and it's been one of the biggest blessings of my life.

Having been raised with a Church of Christ song leader as my dad, I have thankfulness hymns, and vacation Bible school songs wrapped up in my DNA.

I must thank you, thank you, and thank you – I must thank you, thank you, and thank you – I must thank you all the days of my li-ii-ii-fe!”

-(Does anyone else know that one??)

When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed, do not be discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings name them one by one – and it will surprise you what the lord has done.

– Johson Oatman

I truly believe that no matter our circumstances, there are things to be thankful or grateful for. Is it always easy to remember this? Um….definitely not. It's a choice, a daily practice, and can change a bad attitude to an attitude of gratitude.


If you are in the mood to be thankful – you MAY just be in the mood for other fall things. Things like sweater weather, s'mores, football, butterballs, gobblin' until you be wobblin'…;) If so, you need this song in your life. Family-friendly sing-along-able fun!

Check out the new lyric video too! Be sure to subscribe!


thankful-or-grateful Quote by Oprah Winfrey

Things To Be Thankful For

If you don't believe me – believe OPRAH! 🙂

We all have dark days, trials, and tribulations. Speaking of which, remember the pandemic? Virtual school? Ohhhh boy. That. Was. TOUGH. During that time, I was trying to perform a one-woman show to keep my five-year-olds focused through the screen. I started sensing a little gray cloud that hovered above my head. My smile didn't seem to reach my eyes anymore.

TEACHERS. I know you all relate. PARENTS I know YOU DO TOO. KIDS. Bless your hearts.

I came across an idea and thought – YES. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO. It started out with the kids in my classroom, and then I wanted to open it up to the whole school.

A THANKFULNESS CHAIN.

I can't explain how links of paper draped across a ceiling can lift your spirits. But there is something sort of magical about having a visual reminder that just grows and grows, hanging above your head. I would take my laptop out into the hall to show the kids through the screen and they would oooo and ahhhh. I fell in love with it.

We are now in our third year, growing a school-wide thankful chain. Not everyone has to participate. We start the first of November and leave it up until December takes over. Want to know how easy this is to orchestrate? I'm happy to share.

attitude-of-gratitude Quote with pumpkin graphics

Thankfulness Chain

If you'd like to use the resource I found and have loved using each year, check it out here! Gratitude Tree, Thanksgiving Countdown Chain, Gratitude Activities SEL. Jen from Running Turtle Resources has a great store on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are also some other options included in this activity bundle such as a thankful tree and even gratitude discussion strips!

I'm going to walk you through how I initially set this up for our school, how easy it is to maintain, and what I will do at the end of November!

First, print off the master from the TPT resource. There are different versions. I have used “We are THANKFUL for” and “I am THANKFUL for”. Then, I make copies using Astrobrights Mega Collection, Colored Paper, “Sunny” 5-Color Assortment, 625 Sheets. To find easily find this pack, click here, and go to the “Gotta Have Extra” heading.

gratitude-chain a paper cutter - demonstrating cutting thankyou slips by teacher
thankful-paper-chain a teacher showing cut paper slips that will make the chain
attitude-of-gratitude Thankful slips cut and ready to make into a chain

Next, I cut the copies into strips. I guesstimate about how many I want to start with and then take each homeroom teacher their first class set – one for each student. I will put a handful in each special area teacher's mailbox, along with any other faculty or staff members. Always make sure to keep extra in the workroom – and run off extra copies when needed. I repurposed an empty Amazon box and covered it with some paper and a simple “TAKE WHAT YOU NEED!” 😉

Explain how the thankfulness chain will work

Next, I draft an email, get it approved by our principal, and then send it out through our Sunshine Committee, explaining what the chain is, how it will work, etc. I stress the fact that the ONLY thing teachers need to do is have the slips accessible to their kids and restock daily when they are in the workroom. This is NOT meant to be extra work for anyone! (I mean…yes, the copying and cutting I take on – but it doesn't take much time and the rewards outweigh the busy work!)

things-to-be-thankful-for a teacher demonstrating how to use a thankful slip for the paper chain
a thankful slip - "I am thankful for Harry Styles"
we-are-thankful-for students stacking up their daily slip

On the first day, we talk about what it means to be thankful or grateful and how having an attitude of gratitude can change each and every day!

Teachers simply have to allow the kids to write something they are thankful for each day. In kindergarten, we brainstorm and write out things like mom, dad, my pet, my house, etc. As you can see in this picture, the 3rd-5th graders get a little more specific. 😉

I tell teachers that if they have some crafty kids who want to make the chain for their own class – awesome! They just bring that portion of the thankful chain to me to add to the main chain. If teachers simply want to have someone deliver the strips to me, they can do so at any point throughout the day or leave them in the mailbox outside my door.

a teacher showing how to add a slip to the paper chain
how-to-say-thankyou teacher holding a thankful slip, demonstrating how to add to a large paper chain
thankfulness-paper-chain - a teacher showing how to staple a slip onto an existing paper chain

Assembling the gratitude chain

If you have never assembled a paper chain – it's simple. Believe me – if it weren't I wouldn't be doing it! To start, take both ends of one slip of paper, loop them over until they touch, overlap them slightly and then staple them. Take the next slip of paper, slide it through the already stapled loop, and make both ends meet while overlapping slightly, then staple. Rinse and repeat!

I will do this while the kids are cleaning up, eating snacks, while I eat my own lunch, etc. Enlist some older kids to help if you wish! My kindergarteners call it my “paper knitting”! ha!

thanksgiving-paper-chain a paper chain draped across a wall in an elementary school
thankful-chain-at-school an elementary school hallway draped in thankful chains
gratitude chain-at-school An elementary school hallway with paper thankful chains draped back and forth

Look at all there is to be thankful for!

At the end of each day, I will go to the main hall and add to our thankful chain. I attach them to our ceiling using safety pins, paper clips or sometimes command hooks. The first year I went on the wall itself (see the first picture.) Last year we tried alternating back and forth across the ceiling, and we LOVED it. This year we are doing the same.

The kids LOVE to walk under it each day and love to see it grow. As I walk underneath it, it just lifts my eyes upward and puts a smile on my face. Every single one of those links means that for a small moment, someone has chosen to focus on something they are thankful or grateful for. The visual just does something to my heart, and I hope it does for the staff too.

things-to-be-thankful-for Quote by Joyce Meyer with fall graphics

What do you do with your thankful chain once November is over and December is here?

This is a great question. To be honest, the first time I took it all down my heart sort of sank. Then, the rustling of the paper reminded me of fallen leaves. When the leaves are showing off at their peak – the golds, reds, oranges – they are just magical. Then, before you know it they fall. Such is the life of a thankful chain. But just as kids love to jump in leaves and laugh their little hearts out – a thankful chain can serve the same purpose!

So, what do you think? Are you ready to have some fun with your own gratitude chain? Let me know in the comments!

how-to-be-thankful 2 smiling 2nd graders surrounded by a large thankful chain

If you like the fall season an iota as much as I do, you might like this!

Looking for some FREE fall coloring sheets? Look no further! Get your creative on with your classroom or at home with these cute little ghosts, a plethora of sweaters, pumpkins, and more!

GET YOURS HERE!

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