Kindness is something we talk about a lot – we tell our students to be kind, to make kind choices, etc. But what we really wanted to do this year was talk about putting kindness into action.
We started by reading the book, “How Full is Your Bucket?”. Then we talked about what it means to be kind. Lots of kids in our class were naming regular activities, like feeding the cat. Certainly you can go about your regular day with intentional kindness, but for the purpose of this lesson, we emphasized that kindness is when you go above and beyond, or out of your way, to do something for another person.
Several times a week we add to our kindness chain during morning meeting. The kids are asked to think of an example of kindness that they did for someone else, or that they saw someone do, and then write it on to a paper strip. We decided to make our kindness chain red and green to tie it into kindness around the holiday season, but we love the activity so we’ll definitely keep it going after winter break!
As we extended the lesson, we decided that kindness should not just be limited to the walls of our classroom. So we sent notes home explaining the project to the parents and emphasizing that our kids should be looking for kindness opportunities at home. We also tweet about it so the parents (who follow us on Twitter) can be reminded of the project.
A lot of the kindness chain is made up of comments about helping friends clean up their work space, picking up dropped pencil boxes, and throwing away garbage on the floor instead of walking past it.
We are so impressed with the results of this project. We knew it was good to focus on kindness, but we really didn’t think it would make that big of a difference. But just last week, a student had to leave during library time and asked me to check her books in for her. Another student walked up and said, “Ms. Fauss, I can return her books for her!” That’s kindness in action!
We make an intentional effort to talk about kindness as often as we can. In the case above, I said to the student, “Wow. That is so kind of you! Thank you for offering to check in her books.” The more the students hear about kindness, the more they’re paying attention to it, and the more they’re able to act on it.
This is truly one of the simplest projects we’ve done all year, and the results have been incredible. We tie it into our morning meeting, but you could so easily tie it into a content area, like spelling, or working on capitalized letters, or math by counting the chain as it grows, or the list goes on. We have seen so many kids go out of their way to be kind, and our whole classroom environment has changed as a result.