How to Play the Gratitude Game

pexels-photo-791024Gratitude is an attitude linked with greater happiness. It helps to elevate our mood by placing our focus on positive rather than negative experiences. By reflecting on good experiences, gratitude helps improve our overall health, aid in building stronger friendships and regulate our emotions during those times of crisis and stress, according to numerous research studies.

The goal of the Gratitude Game is to help cultivate positive feelings among family members and their interpersonal relationships. In times of discord, the focus will usually be on experiences, emotions that reflect negative aspects of the relationship. This increases the difficulty in repairing that relationship or deescalating and resolving any relational conflict.

Plainly said, and in the words of my grandmother, gratitude is felt when you “count your blessings”.  Gratitude also helps promote empathy, taking our focus off of ourselves and enables us to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’.

As a family, there are lots of fun activities that help cultivate gratitude and empathy. This one is  called ‘Grateful Charades‘.


  • Some scratch paper
  • tape
  • marker, or colored pencil or crayon
  • a hat or large bowl

Every day, set aside a little time for you and your children to name three things you’re grateful for that day. After everyone has shared, grab some paper or post-it notes. Have everyone write each thing on a piece of paper, one thing they’re grateful for on each sheet. Grab some tape and take each sheet of scratch paper and have each person place their gratefulness on the refrigerator[or a peg board]. Repeat this activity every day of the week. A good time for this activity will be after dinner or right before bedtime.

All of the pieces of paper should be arranged in such way that it comes together to create a HEART- A Heart full of Gratitude. At the end of the week, you’ll use the note paper to play a game of Grateful Charades.

family playing charades at bonfire in garden


Have each player/person fold three things they are grateful for and place them in a hat or bowl. Explain how to play the game of + This is a game where words or phrases are acted out. Explain that it is a pantomime only game-no speaking, and remind everyone to act out their words or phrases.

When someone has guessed what has been acted out, recap the answer saying “You’re grateful for….How did that make you feel?” It is important to do this part because each person has what they’re grateful for mirrored back to them and is reminded of the emotion associated with the statement of gratitude. There is a Frenzy Emotion Chart to help with identifying these emotions.

Choose the order of player by birthday or age… The player with a birthday closest to the day’s date goes first. Go from player to player with each person acting out the words on his/her notes until the hat or bowl is empty.

Cheer each other on. Don’t worry about splitting into teams or having a timer like typical charades. Skip the competitive element. Keep it simple, and just have fun! Remember the end goal is to highlight and celebrate as a family all the things you’re grateful for. To close out the game take a few moments to answer a couple of the questions below. Maybe even over dessert!

diverse fam


  1. What was your favorite part of Grateful Charades?

  2. 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.

  3. How does having an attitude of gratitude positively affect our relationships with one another?

  4. Look at the Friendzy Emotion Chart and identify the emotion you’re feeling right now. Share it with your family and try to explain why you feel that way.

  5. As an expression of gratitude, and a way to connect with family and friends, offer the option to write a thank you note or text someone a message of gratitude this week.

To sum this activity, one can never be too grateful. To cultivate a heart filled with gratitude is not just essential for mental health, especially during times of stress or crisis, it’s also essential for relational and emotional health. Being intentionally grateful opens the door to contentment. Stay mindful of everything acted out during Charades and remind one another of them when/if needed in the days to come.

Encourage the family to make a practice of maintaining an ongoing list of the things the are grateful for every day. Share and reflect on them when and wherever they can.Make this gratitude activity a daily ritual and weekly scheduled event for your family. How about this for promoting Social-Emotional Learning/literacy through gratitude?


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