Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bring Kindness into Your Classroom

There are so many fun ideas for kindness that all grades can bring into the classroom! To me, I think taking the time to circle back to being kind throughout the school year is something we can do fairly easily and has a long-term impact on our students. Try out my #KindnessIsContagious year-long idea to use as a touchstone of sorts to keep the conversation going and inspire students to look for and take part in random acts of kindness. Bonus is that it will also decorate your classroom quite nicely!


To Begin
Share a time during the week when you (the teacher) either saw a random act of kindness or performed a random act of kindness. Tell students the story and explain to them that when you were getting ready for this project, you started to notice a lot of different ways people were being kind. Then share with them the thinking that when people see acts of kindness, it is an inspiration for them to do something kind.

You can choose to read a book about kindness. I like Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson.

Next Step
Tell students you all are going to try to inspire EVERYONE who walks into the classroom to do something kind when they leave. You decided that by creating a chain of kindness and hanging it up in the classroom, people will see it and be inspired by the stories. The chain will be called #KindnessIsContagious. (Kids LOVE hashtags!).

Write the act of kindness you described earlier on the strip of paper and then tell students you are waiting for someone to write on another strip so you can begin making the chain. Ask if anyone has something they did or saw that they could write. If not, that is fine. I would tell students to be on the lookout and that you will check in with them at the end of the day to see if anyone has done or seen an act of kindness. (Be sure to leave enough time at the end of the day). I collect the strips throughout the day and after students pack up for dismissal, we meet in a circle and students share their links with the class. When they leave, I staple them to the chain and the next day, they see it and get all excited! It's great!

Final Product!
Students will get a kick out of the chain growing longer and longer! Ours was about to touch the ground on Friday and the kids were excited to see it on Monday after I will have added the 15 strips we collected this week!

Strips of paper (I used the colors of my classroom)
Sharpie or Marker
Bin for Strips of paper labeled "#KindnessIsContagious"

Set Up
Place the strips, Sharpie and bin in an easily accessible area of the classroom. Establish a clear time when it is appropriate for kids to write their acts of kindness on the strips. I say during read aloud, lunch, snack, before and after school or if they finish an assignment early. 

Where in your Curriculum Can you Sprinkle in some Kindness?

Take a moment and look over your curriculum. Find areas where you can tie in being kind or how kindness or not being kind has effected an outcome of a situation. Teachers of younger-aged students can use books about kindness, anti-bullying and making friends to teach how to read and/or comprehension strategies.

Teachers of older-aged students, when teaching history for example, can find out about the groups of people who supported troops or countries through nonviolent acts of peace and tell your students about it. This article tells about Quakers who fed children and helped those in Germany after WWII following the principle that every person in need has to be helped. Math teachers can use the example of helping others and the cost of natural disasters. Make a graph for the types of supplies you collected for victims!

An 8th grade student himself came up with a kindness project that involves challenging middle school students to be kind. It has now been used in over 4600 different middle schools! Maybe it is exactly what your school is looking for or something you might want to adapt and use in your own classroom! Bonus: All the resources are free!

Reestablish Classroom Unity and Togetherness in the Middle of the School Year

Click on the picture to check out the lesson plan and puzzle pieces for this really amazing and super important student activity 

Sometimes bringing students together in the middle of the school year with a project or lesson is a good idea because it reminds students that they are all on the same team and need to look out for each other. I never assume that my students are always on the same page as each other. There is almost always trouble in paradise among friends at some point or another and unfortunately, I am not always aware of it. Therefore, I want to make sure I am not only teaching the skills to deal with conflict, but also fostering a sense of unity in my classroom even after the beginning of the school year. Using games where success can only be achieved if they work as a team is a great way to show the value in teamwork and trust. There are so many good ideas in the book called Great Group Games. This book also offers really great ideas for challenges, trust building, and get-to-know-you games. I use this a lot at the beginning of the year and then pull it out a few times a month thereafter. 

Classroom Discussions Can have a Wonderful Impact

Sometimes just talking to students about what peace means to them can be really empowering. Through discussion, students will start to see that being peaceful can mean so many different things! When I facilitate this type of discussion in my classroom of 5th graders, I like to allow students to really guide each other in seeing that there is no one, correct answer. For younger grades, you might want to pose questions for students to think about. Such as: What would peace look like in your neighborhood? What would peace look like in our school? What does peace feel like? 

Kindergarten - 2nd Grade Book Suggestion for Conversation 
The Peace Book by Todd Parr

3rd and 4th Grades Book Suggestion for Conversation
What Does Peace Feel Like? By Vladimir Radunsky

Click on the picture to check out the lesson plan and activity 

Building Kindness into your Curriculum can only ENHANCE the learning and opportunities for your students to practice one of the most valuable life skills! 

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