Kindness is an important social skill the plays a huge role in creating a positive learning environment for all. When we have kinder students, kids are better able to work together, share, express differing opinions in respectful ways, and help each other when someone is in need.
To help teach and encourage kindness I’m sharing how a quick and simple lesson on teaching kindness with your learners, as well as ideas for keeping the positivity going. This would be great to do during World Kindness Day, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s, or during the first few days of school. Of course, this is an activity you could do ANY time. Kindness is always cool.
Keep reading for more ideas and a free activity worksheet you can use right away.
Start the lesson by discussing what it means to be kind. Kindness can mean many different things. Sometimes, it is doing something nice for someone else. Sometimes, it is treating someone the way they want to be treated in the moment. Other times, it is doing our part to clean up and take care of the environment. Kindness is even about being loving and thoughtful to ourselves.
Encourage students to come up with a list of ways to be kind. This can be done as a whole group or in small groups. You can even make it a challenge to come up with the biggest list of kind acts before reporting back to the whole class.
Students should come up with lots of different acts of kindness, from opening the door for someone else to helping someone with a homework assignment. What’s most important is that learners notice we can show kindness in big and small ways every single day.
Understanding The Chain of Kindness
Ask students to think about and describe a time someone was kind to them. Have them think about how that made them feel. Have them then share times when they were kind to someone else. Have them also think about how that made them feel.
It’s critical for kids and young adults to see that kindness creates more kindness. It is a chain. When we are kind to someone, it not only makes that person feel good, but it makes us feel good, too. The more kind acts we do, the kinder our entire world becomes.
Making a Kindness Challenge
Come up with a list of kind activities together (or use the one I’ve put together). Encourage students to complete a kindness challenge by actually doing each of the activities throughout the week.
Best of all, this is something you can do again and again by coming up with new lists of kind activities. You could even have a challenge every single week or month.
Make it extra exciting by adding a special reward at the end of the challenge. Just randomly select one winner who completed the challenge and give a special reward, like sitting in the teacher’s chair or getting to choose the movie for the end of the week.
If you want to get started with an activity and fun visual you can use right away, grab this free kindness activity!
Keeping the Kindness Going
It’s important to continually discuss and practice kindness. While one lesson or activity is a great place to start, it’s critical that students see kindness on an ongoing basis. Here are a few other ideas for keeping that kindness going.
Give kindness shoutouts. Dedicate a bulletin board in the classroom to “kindness shoutouts.” Allow kids to write out when they see someone else being kind in the classroom. Have them write it on a piece of paper that you (or the students) can post on the bulletin board.
Model kindness. It’s helpful to get other educators on board with highlighting acts of kindness throughout the whole year. It goes without saying that kids are most certainly watching the adults, how we interact with other adults, and how we interact with kids. Modeling kind behavior all the time needs to be a consistent focus.
Share kindness quotes. One of my favorite quotes about kindness is, “We never know what someone else is going through. Just be kind.” Sometimes, we all need this reminder.
Use literature. There are a number of read alouds that can be used to highlight kindness, gratitude, and giving back. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen are a few good ones to start with. Grab this free Social Emotional Learning read aloud list for a few more ideas.
Do you have a favorite kindness activity? Share it!