Student Engagement

Thanks Giving

Material Needed: Paper, envelopes, writing utensils
Time Required: 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the group
Group Size: 2-40
Purpose: Team building, acknowledging others

  1. Explain to the group that the phrase "thankless job" is one that can be applied to many positions or specific tasks. Explain that sometimes one simple phrase coming from the right source can change that descriptor; the phrase is "thank you".

  2. Distribute blank paper and envelopes.

  3. Ask group members to write their name on their envelope and place them in a location easily accessible to everyone during the meeting or retreat. 

  4. Invite group members to write a note at any time during the session when they remember a particular time, event, or behavior for which they would like to thank another team member.

  5. Throughout the meeting or retreat tell members they may place the notes in the envelopes of their team members.

  6. Encourage team members to write at least one thank you note for each individual.


  1. This activity can be adapted to include compliments or encouraging words. It can also be as simple as 3 kind words to describe the team member.

  2. If done on a retreat, before hand you could create 8 x 11 posters with a picture of the person and their name and then have people write directly on the poster throughout the retreat. You can also include an envelope for people to put their note, incase someone doesn't want their note to be public.

Since these notes are personal between sender and recipient, do not explore them further as a group. The power of this activity is in the result, not the process.

West, E. (1997). 201 Icebreakers. New York: McGraw Hill. P 409.

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