Thank You, Earth: Writing Gratitude Poems For Our Planet


How can you cultivate an attitude of gratitude at home and in the classroom? 

With poetry, of course!

One of my favorite books to encourage a thankful mindset is THANK YOU, EARTH by April Pulley Sayre. This picture book is a letter to the earth, written as a poem. Each page gives thanks for different wonders on our planet, from mountains to coastlines to trees. Stunning photographs taken by the author accompany the poetic words. THANK YOU, EARTH is also a fabulous book to encourage environmental stewardship. The back matter provides a host of ways to take action to help the planet.  Sadly, April Pulley Sayre passed away as I was writing this post. I share it in her memory, knowing THANK YOU, EARTH and her other amazing books will continue to inspire readers to love nature and poetry. 

In addition to using the following lesson around Thanksgiving, it also works well for Earth Day or in conjunction with a science unit on ecology, biology, or classification.

After reading THANK YOU, EARTH,  start a gratitude discussion by asking students: 

Of all the wonders of nature, which are you thankful for? 

As a class, brainstorm a list of ideas. To help spark students' answers, try sharing a gallery of nature photographs.  I like using nature images from WILDLIFE PHOTO OF THE DAY and SHUTTERSTOCK.  

Once you have a robust list of ideas, it's time to write some thank-you poems!

To make the poetry-writing process easier, I created this DEAR EARTH POEM TEMPLATE. The template provides an easy-to-follow structure.   (For those short on time and/or attention span, try using my DEAR EARTH POEM TEMPLATE- SHORTER VERSION.) As a mentor text,  I wrote my own "Dear Earth" poem using the template. (Find a printable version of my poem here.)  

Dear Earth,

Thank you for glaciers and snowmelt
and cold alpine streams.
Thank you for salmon
that flash silver scales.
Thank you for creatures
that gift us with song,
for crickets and robins
and whales.
Thank you for aspens and maples
and pines,
for trees
that help scrub our air clean.
Thank you for pink dawns,
and inky black nights,
and wonders you share in between.

©Michelle Schaub 2021

After sharing my mentor poem, model the writing process by filling in a DEAR EARTH POEM TEMPLATE (or DEAR EARTH POEM TEMPLATE- SHORTER VERSIONas a class. Use ideas from the class brainstorm to complete the template. Then distribute templates to your students and invite them to write their own DEAR EARTH poems. Encourage students to choose their favorite items from the class list or come up with their own ideas. (I always like to remind students that rhyming is optional but choosing their best words is a must!)  

Once students finish their Dear Earth poems, display their work around the classroom or on a safe online platform like Flipgrid or Padlet.  Or have a"gratitude reading" and invite students to share their poems out loud.  

Hearing and seeing what inspires their classmates to be grateful will help students maintain an attitude of gratitude all month long! 

Keep the gratitude flowing! Here's another THANK YOU POETRY POST I wrote using the poems from the anthology THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE as mentor texts. 

About Michelle Schaub

Michelle Schaub is a language arts teacher and award-winning children's poet. She is the author of the picture book poetry collections Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market  and Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections. She is also the author of two picture books in verse, Dream Big, Little Scientists and Kindness is a Kite String: The Uplifting Power of Empathy. Her poems appear in several anthologies, including  Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud.  Michelle loves visiting schools and speaking at conferences on the power of poetry to boost literacy. Find out more at:


  1. Wonderful post! Perfect timing too. Thank you! I'm sorry to hear about April. I had not heard that yet.

    1. Thank you, Angie. Yes, we lost a shining voice with April's passing.

  2. Ahhhhhh. Thank you for the beauty, the memory of a beautiful author and her work and the poetry.


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