School is about way more than just teaching academics. Yes, math and reading are important, but so is kindness! With so many subjects to teach (and the stress that comes with it), I have to remind myself that there is always time for kindness. If my students come to school with a smile and leave happy at the end of the day, I have done my job. When kids learn to be mindful and kind in school, it makes teaching the academic stuff so much easier.
A World of Kindness
When we celebrated World Kindness Day last November, I shared R. J. Palacio’s We’re All Wonders with my students. This picture book is based on her bestselling novel, Wonder, and it has a beautiful message of tolerance and every child’s longing to be seen for who she or he truly is. My wrinkled-heart activity was a perfect match for a read-aloud of the book. I made a large heart out of paper, and as I read the story, every time a character said something mean to Auggie, I wrinkled up the paper heart to represent how mean words can affect a person. When the story was over, I asked kids to help me smooth out the heart, but told them that no matter how hard we try, it will always be a little wrinkled from unkind words and actions. This activity encourages students to think before they speak and helps to promote a community of kindness. I hung the heart in the classroom as a yearlong reminder to treat others with kindness.
The book How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids, by Tom Rath, teaches kids to be “bucket fillers,” people who do things to make others feel good. We learn that when our buckets are full, we are happy, and when they get tipped, we are sad. You can fill your own and others’ buckets through kindness. We make a chart showing concrete ways to be a “bucket filler.” Cultivating a kind class takes practice, but the results you’ll see in behavior will be extraordinary.
We have secret Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) buddies. Each person who wants a RAK buddy fills out a questionnaire, so the buddy can do nice things for him or her all year long. At the end of the year, we have a RAK buddy reveal party. It’s so much fun to finally find out who spoiled you with kindness. To encourage kids to perform acts of kindness, I have a “confetti door” with the message “Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti.”
Photo: Courtesy of Shari Carter