Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright Idea: Happy Journals

Time for a bright idea for teaching your students to be happier!

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A few years back, I worked with a student who was constantly negative. She would constantly tell me everything that had gone wrong with every day, and her very self-centered worldview made it hard for everything not to seem like some kind of personal injustice.

I worked with this student after school, and thankfully her parents understood that their child needed emotional support as much as she needed academic support.

I wanted to encourage some positive self-talk and giving the student an opportunity to reflect on the positive things going on in her day, so we created a Happy Journal!

I gave her complete control over the cover. I drew “Happy Journal” on the cover to get her started, but otherwise I let her fill in pictures and words of things she loved, and a few stickers too. I wanted it to feel like HERS- and show all the things that made her happy.
On the inside cover, I wrote her a personal note about the purpose of the journal. I’m an optimist at heart, and I truly believe in the power of forcing yourself to TRY to think positively, even when you don’t feel like it! Looking for the blessings is a powerful thing.
Every day, I asked her to write 3 positive things about her day or about life. Occasionally, she could even think of more.
Having a reason to look for those good things (and meeting with someone to stay accountable) made a huge difference in this child.
I wasn’t picky about spelling, punctuation, or even complete sentences- this was all about taking the time to notice good things in life. It also helped me (and her parents) to see some of the things that helped her mood.
After doing this as a sort of intervention for one student, I think that it would make a great end-of-the-day activity for ALL of my kids after they pack up for the day.
A Happy Journal made a huge difference for this girl. Hopefully, it’s an idea that could come in handy in your classroom, too!  : )
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out another Bright Ideas post on how I organize progress monitoring data and anecdotal notes. Please consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Bloglovin!
You can read lots more Bright Ideas for your classroom here. Be sure to check the grade level and topics!


  1. What a great idea for encouraging positive thinking! I definitely want to try this with my Spanish immersion kiddos. And I wanted to let you know I shared your Teacher Binder post at my FB page, and it got so many hits! Thanks a bunch!
    FlapJack Educational Resources

  2. What a great way to teach this life skill at looking at the positive in life!
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. Well, I was too late for the link-up, but I posted a bright idea on my blog as well. Check it out:

  4. Jenny,
    This is such a cool idea. I love the idea of finding happiness during the day--particularly for kids (which is kind of heartbreaking). I've got a couple of kids that would just love the opportunity to do something like this everyday. I think I might have to steal this for next year.


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