Teaching students to show kindness builds culture
Random acts of kindness do not need to be reserved for National Random Acts of Kindness Day. In fact, teaching our students how to show kindness everyday is an ongoing process. It is part of building school and classroom culture.
In a classroom or school with a caring culture you will see students loaning a classmate a pencil, offering a kind word, giving a hug, saying please and thank you, asking a classmate to join their lunch table, and applauding a presentation on a regular basis. You can feel the difference when you enter the room.
Those actions do not take place organically, but rather by teaching and developing expectations. It begins with a kind teacher, expecting kindness from his/her students and teaching them how to express that kindness appropriately.
Teachers who foster kindness are leaving a life-long impression on their students. This in turn will continue through their adult behavior. This reciprocity is the reason that kindness.org began in the first place and how the movement has continued. A day to remind people of its importance is only the beginning of a lifetime of treating others with kindness.
20 class activities to embrace random acts of kindness:
- Write thank you notes to the custodian that cleans the room or school.
- Invite students to create a jar with random acts of kindness ideas and then each week each student draws one to perform.
- Share kindness with many people by having students make a list of all the people they can show an act of kindness to (mom, dad, brother, sister, bus driver, librarian, principal, friend, teacher, etc) Have them think of three things they can do over the next few weeks for each person. Follow-up weekly to see how their list is going.
- Paint kindness rocks with a positive word and hide throughout the school. When a student finds one, they pass on the kindness by hiding it again. (Kids of all ages love this!) See Kindness Rock Project for more details.
- Create a centralized bulletin board and post random acts of kindness that others witness in school.
- Put encouraging signs on the inside doors of bathroom stalls.
- Make cards and deliver them to a senior center.
- Work in some science by having students plant flower seeds and later transplant into cups to give to cafeteria workers, administrative assistants, bus drivers, etc.
- Create an appreciation station with notecards and markers or crayons that students can use to make thank you notes.
- Collect canned goods for a local food pantry.
- Create a space and have students create positive messages with a sign that says “Take What You Need.” Students can grab a positive note when they have a bad day.
- Grab some colored chalk and take students out to write positive messages on the sidewalk for students to see as they enter or leave school.
- After students find kindness quotes they like, create a class powerpoint. Each day show one slide and talk about it before you begin the day.
- Put students in small groups and have each group plan acts of kindness they can do as a group. You will be amazed at their ideas.
- Take a walk around school and have students find things that need to be done and let them do it. (chairs pushed in, trash picked up, books straightened, etc.)
- Plan for kindness by having students create a kindness calendar. They should come up with one act of kindness they can do every day. Give them a sticker for every day they accomplish that act.
- Spread acts of kindness around school. Have students write positive message sticky notes and place them randomly around school.
- Teach students to show appreciation for each other. Give students note cards with each classmates’ name. Have them write one thing they admire about that student, but not sign it. Collect all the cards and hand out a card a day to each student. Students will be thrilled to hear the positive things others say about them and really look forward to it.
- Make a large poster-sized card decorated and signed by your class to someone usually overlooked in your building, thanking them for what they do. (crossing guard, school nurse, counselor, resource officer, etc.)
- Create a kindness board with each student’s photo. Have them tell something they did that showed kindness to others and something that someone else did to show kindness to them. Update this throughout the year and students will start paying attention to the various ways kindness can be shown. It also makes them more appreciative when others show them kindness.
Finally, for elementary teachers, here are also free lesson plans available for teachers grades K-5 from the kindness.org website.