Nourishing a regular gratitude practice is one of the best things we can do to support our mental health. Lots of adults keep gratitude lists or journals, but we often don’t think about how to help young people cultivate this important life skill.


You can use this guide with 25 gratitude journal prompts for middle school to cultivate a calmer, happier classroom, help your students practice their writing skills, and support your middle school students’ mental health.


Why Do Gratitude Journaling in Middle School?

Middle school is a hard time for students. They’re right in the middle of the process of becoming teens and starting to figure out who they are and where their place is in the world. Hormonal changes that come along with puberty may lead to emotional ups and downs. Add increasing academic pressures and conflicts with peers, and it isn’t hard to see why many middle schoolers struggle with things like stress and anxiety.


Mental health isn’t just an adult concern. Around 1 in 5 kids and teens will face a serious mental health condition during their K-12 years, and that’s not accounting for kids who struggle with undiagnosed problems like high-stress levels. Students with mental health problems are less likely to graduate from high school and may face long-term consequences as adults.


Although the practice of gratitude journaling can’t replace mental health treatment, it has been shown to boost mental well-being overall. It can also serve as a healthy coping skill for middle school students to manage stress in their lives, no matter where that stress is coming from.


Some specific benefits associated with a regular gratitude practice include:

  • Improves interpersonal relationships
  • Increases overall happiness
  • Feeling more optimistic about your life and future
  • Less connected to negative emotions
  • Makes us more generous, even in the long-term
  • Less stress and depression

All middle schoolers can benefit from these effects, whether or not their mental health is suffering.


25 Gratitude Journal Prompts for Middle School Students

Gratitude Journal


The easiest way to incorporate gratitude journaling into your class schedule may be to include it into your SEL curriculum. Other teachers choose to end every day, or week, with the practice of gratitude journaling. The practice of gratitude is beneficial even when it isn’t shared, so you may choose to allow your middle school students to keep their journals confidential.


The benefits of gratitude may not be immediate. But with regular practice, your middle school students will learn this essential life skill and be able to use it to protect themselves during difficult times.


Here are 25 gratitude journal prompts that will get your middle schoolers thinking.

  1. Who is one person in your life who loves you unconditionally? How does this person make you feel? How do you know they love you unconditionally?
  2. What is one thing that made you smile this week? Write about it in detail.
  3. When was the last time you cracked up? What made you laugh so hard?
  4. What’s one thing you love about yourself that no one else notices? Something that makes you say, “I’m glad to be me!”?
  5. Write about the best day you’ve ever had in your life.
  6. Who is someone you admire or look up to? What do you appreciate about them?
  7. Write a letter to someone who you’re really happy to have in your life. This could be a friend, a family member, a teacher, or anyone else you know.
  8. Where is your favorite place in the world? Describe it. Why are you grateful that this place exists?
  9. When is the last time you felt really peaceful spending time by yourself? What were you doing?
  10. What’s the best thing that’s happened today? What did you appreciate about it?
  11. When was the last time you told someone, “Thank you”? What made you thank them?
  12. Who is someone you can always count on to be there for you when you need them? Write about how they’ve supported you in the past.
  13. Who is your favorite musical artist? Why do you love their music?
  14. What’s your favorite thing to do during the day? What do you love about it?
  15. What do you most look forward to when you wake up in the morning?
  16. Who is your best friend, and what’s the best thing about them?
  17. What’s one hard thing that happened in your past that you’ve overcome? How does it make you feel to know you overcame a struggle?
  18. What do you know about your ancestors and heritage? What do you appreciate about your culture?
  19. Sit quietly to yourself, and take a deep breath. When you think of the word “gratitude,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
  20. What’s a small detail at school or at home that makes you smile (like a beautiful flower or a certain smell), but no one else seems to notice?
  21. Where in the world do you feel the safest?
  22. How has your favorite movie changed your life or the way you think about things?
  23. Who is one person you know who seems to always express their gratitude? What can you learn about them?
  24. What is your favorite type of weather? Why do you enjoy days like this?
  25. Take three deep breaths in and out. Think about your body -- not the way it looks, but what’s inside of it. Your heart, your lungs, and your intestines -- all of your organs work together every day so that you can be alive. Write a thank you letter to your organs. 


Gratitude and Mindfulness With Calm Classroom

Gratitude and mindfulness are interconnected. To truly practice gratitude, we must first cultivate mindfulness. Middle school students are surrounded by distractions. If they don’t slow down for long enough to notice the things in their lives that they appreciate, then it will be tough to foster gratitude.


Check out our blog for more ideas and activities to practice both gratitude and mindfulness with your middle school students. You can also get in touch with us to learn more about our mindfulness curriculum for middle school students. Over 90% of teachers who’ve participated in the Calm Classroom program have said that their students are calmer and more peaceful.


Get in touch with us to learn more about our programs.


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