Are you running out of ideas for positive expression this fall? I know this has been a tough year for everyone and we’re probably all feeling a little different about the holiday season this year. A few songs I have been using with students and adults to identify opportunities to celebrate for what we can be thankful for this year! 

(see templates for both songwriting activities at the bottom of the page!)

Activity 1: Original Thankful Blues 

Use 1.  School aged kids working on noun identification 

Have students identify things they are thankful in different categories including people places and things! Some ideas to include for field of 2 choice making: 

Food or pets? 

Family or friends? 

Home or outside? 

Music or dancing? 

Use 2. Teens or Adults identifying what they may be missing this year 

Offer teens and adult clients a chance to reflect on  thankful and excitement this year. They may also try talking about activities and opportunities they are excited for when it is easier to socialize and travel.

You can offer prompts like:

What are you thankful for that you can do now? 

What is something about yourself you are thankful for? 

Who is someone you are thankful for? 

Activity 2: Parody Fill-in-the-Blank Songwriting

If you are working with teens right now, you might be trying to find a way to use their music this season without being too “kiddie.”

I adapted the song “Thank You, Next” by Ariana Grande to create a parody for students ind “Distance Learning” to fill-in-the-blank what they may be thankful for even when things look “different” right now.

Adapt to your group as much as possible! Offer prompts to rewrite the verse or add more chorus turns!

Activity 3: Grateful Playlist (Multiple Day activity possible!)

Whether you are in a group of students or adults, opening up conversations for groups to share positive ideas and experiences can be a great way to keep up spirits. 

  1. Offer your group a prompt using the song “My Favorite Things”.

2.  Give the group a chance to think of different things they are grateful and thankful for.

     3. Identify songs with similar themes or titles (See below for ideas!).

     4. Add to a playlist!

     5. Get group feedback, express positivity at the shared experience.


Client A: “I am thankful for how beautiful it is when the trees change colors” 

  • Song association: What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), Autumn Leaves (Jazz Standard), Seasons of Love (Rent the Musical), Changes (David Bowie) 

Client B: “I’m thankful for the people in my life, even though they are far away”

  • Song association: We are Family (Sister Sledge), Count on Me (Bruno Mars), You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Randy Newman), I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends (The Beatles), Lean on Me (Bill Withers), etc. 

Client C: “I’m thankful for the holidays because I love all the delicious food” 

  • Song association: Lollipop (The Chordettes), Watermelon Sugar (Harry Styles), Sugar Pie Honey Bunch (The Four Tops), Peaches (Presidents of the United States of America), I Want Candy (Bow Wow Wow), etc.