Rose, Bud, Thorn Exercise
A bush of blooming red roses.

Rose, Thorn, Bud

The Rose, Thorn, Bud exercise increases students' self-awareness as they reflect on recent successes, challenges, and opportunities.


  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies




English — US




About the Rose, Thorn, Bud Exercise

The Rose, Thorn, Bud activity develops self-awareness and encourages responsible decision-making by asking students to reflect on recent successes (roses), challenges (thorns), and opportunities (buds). Many teachers use this routine for weekly reflection and goal setting.

Use our free Rose, Thorn, Bud template (available as a PDF or Google Doc) to implement the exercise with your students. 

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Steps for Implementation

Explain What Rose, Thorn, Bud Means

If this is your first time using the exercise with your students, start by defining the terms. The rose is a highlight, success, or small win that students experienced recently. The thorn is a challenge, frustration, or something stressful they experienced. The bud is an opportunity or something they are looking forward to.

Fill Out the Rose, Bud, Thorn Template

Distribute the Rose, Thorn, Bud Handout and have students take a minute to think back on the past day or week and then respond to the prompts on the handout.

Debrief the Exercise

Model the debrief by sharing your Rose, Thorn, Bud reflection. Ask students for advice to help with your thorn. Then have students debrief in pairs or triads, giving advice to help each other with their thorns. Collect the handouts so you can check in on students’ well-being, offering support and guidance where needed.


Follow instructions above if this is your first time using this routine. Distribute the Rose, Thorn, Bud handout or create a three-column Padlet that replicates the handout to create a communal space for reflection. If using a Padlet, after students have finished writing, invite them to give shout-outs verbally or in the chat, acknowledging the roses and buds in the class and offering suggestions to help peers navigate their thorns. If students recorded ideas on the handout, you can model the debrief by sharing your own reflection and asking students for advice to help you with your thorn. Then have students debrief in  breakout rooms.

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