Ignite Growth Mindsets: Engage Students with 6 Activities

We all want our students to be successful.  We do everything in our power to make sure that they can be, but how can we empower them to take ownership and grow on their own?  We instill a growth mindset.  It’s not an overnight fix.  It takes time, but if we begin to instill a mindset that anything is possible then they begin to know that anything is possible.  They don’t know anything different!  Students will begin to see that there is no limit, and that their future belongs to them.

Growth mindset activities

How do you get started instilling a growth mindset?  Here are six activities to jumpstart growth.

1. Introduce Growth Mindset with Books and Video Clips

When initially introducing growth mindset to students, I begin my explaining that we are born to learn.  We can train our brains to do whatever we want to do.  I begin my showing them the video clip from Kahn Academy titled You Can Learn Anything.  Another video that students really love is this growth mindset video.

The book My Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak Ph.D is a good book to read with students also.  It explains that the brain can be strengthened by not giving up!

Read aloud a variety of other picture books in which the character possesses a growth mindset.  This is a good way to introduce the concept as well.  The characters in these books have many obstacles, but they don’t give up.  Discuss with students what the character did to overcome their challenges.  Did they give up?  Would it have been easy to do so?  Have students make connections with something that may have been hard for them like the character’s in each story.  Did they give up?  Could they have done something differently?  Allow students to share their thoughts and ideas with classmates.   Here are five of my favorite read alouds.

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The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

Rosie Revere by Andrea Beaty

Thank you, Mr. Flaker by Patricia Polacco

What Do You Do With a Problem by Kobi Yamada

Picture books to introduce growth mindset

Show students a variety of video clips where, like the books, the character possesses a growth mindset.  The internet is full of these types of clips.  You simply need to look for clips where the character is trying to overcome a challenge and doesn’t give up.  Below, you will find links to some of my favorites.

Soar:  An Animated Short

Shakira – Try Everything


Ormie the Pig

Meet the Robinsons

2. How Introducing the Word "Yet" Empowers Students to Develop a Growth Mindset

By simply introducing the word YET, students can easily change a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.  For example, if a student says, “I can’t multiply by sixes” by simply adding the word yet changes the entire meaning of the phrase.  “I can’t multiply by sixes yet.”  This one word takes what might seem hard or impossible and changes it into something that they feel is attainable.

You can use these I can’t Yet slips to get students thinking about what they can’t do, but they will be able to do by the steps they think will get them there.

growing a mindset

You can also project this poster as a reminder of the power of yet.

Growth mindset activities for elementary students

3. Sort Mindset Phrases

Once students are familiar with the difference between and fixed and growth mindset, provide them with different fixed and growth mindset phrases to sort.  As they are sorting the phrases, encourage them to talk with partners about why each phrase belongs in the category that they placed it in.  You will be amazed at the conversations that happen.

Growth mindset activities for elementary

4. Change Fixed Mindset Phrases to Growth Mindset

Use the fixed mindset phrases from the sort or create your own fixed mindset phrases for students to change to a growth mindset.  Consider using a cooperative learning strategy such as Round Table (see below), so that students are able to work cooperatively with classmates but with equal participation.

Round table cooperative learning strategy

5. Create a Classroom Growth Mindset Slogan

What better way to begin cultivating a growth mindset classroom than with a whole classroom slogan!  In teams have students come up with possible growth mindset slogans.  Compile each team’s slogan on an anchor chart.  Once you have all team’s slogan, have them regroup and try to come up with another slogan using a combination of slogans.  This activity may be stretched out over several days.  Once teams have created another slogan, have them share again while you collect.   As a class, discuss the different possibilities and come up with a growth mindset slogan that student agree by voting for the best.

growth mindset slogan

6. Set micro-goals for the classroom, teams, and/or individually

Create micro-goals for the class, or have teams or individual students create their own goals.  Keep goals small at first.  By making small goals, students will find success early which, with time, will lead to the ability to create and reach bigger goals.  This keeps students motivated and aspiring to reach their goals.

Get started with creating a growth mindset in your classroom by downloading the above activities for FREE in the Resource Library.

Bonus: Start a Growth Mindset Journal

Give your students five minutes per day to respond to journal prompts that get them thinking about kindness, mindfulness, gratitude, and also allow them to reflect.  Looking for premade journal prompts?


I have linked up with some other amazing bloggers to share ways to integrate a growth mindset in the classroom.  Be sure to check out the other resources and tips below!

Mandy Neal at Teaching With Simplicity
Mandy Neal at Teaching With Simplicity

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Literacy & Learning