To the Teacher:
The election has brought up strong feelings for many students, and, created tension in some schools. This activity aims to help students create a classroom and school community that is safe, welcoming and supportive, despite some turmoil in the outside world.
While students, especially the youngest of them, may feel like there isn’t a lot they can do, it may be helpful to talk about small ways that they can help build community at school and outside of it, in this case, by being kind.
In this activity you’ll think about ways to be kind, create a wall or bulletin board of art and writing to remind students of the power of kindness and ways that everyday actions can make a difference in the world.
- Index cards or post-its
- Paper - possibly cut into halves or quarters depending on how much wall space you have
- Markers, crayons, or pencils
- Any other decorative materials you may want to add
Give students each one or two post-its or index cards and markers or crayons to write with.
Explain that today you’re going to talk about kindness. Ask students what they think of when they think of the word kindness, or kind acts. If you want to, you can share this definition of kindness: "a kind, considerate, or helpful act" (from dictionary.com).
Explain that an act of kindness can be big or small. It can be something as simple as sharing a treat or helping someone pick up things they’ve dropped. They can also be larger gestures, like caring for a sick friend or helping someone move.
Share this quote with the class:
"This is what kindness does... Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world."
— Jacqueline Woodson
Ask students: How could an act of kindness be "like a ripple"? What does Jacqueline Woodson mean?
Pair students up with whoever is beside them. Give students a few seconds to think before each of the following prompts, and then give them a minute or two to share their responses with each other.
1. Share a time when someone was kind to you or helped you.
2. Share a time when you were kind or helped someone else.
Regroup and let a few students share their stories (or go all the way around, if there’s time for it).
Now ask students, in their pairs, to think about how they felt when they were helping, or being helped. What effect does an act of kindness have?
Give the pairs a minute or two to discuss. Then ask students to write the emotion they felt answers on their index cards or post-its. (Skip this for younger groups.)
Ask students to share the feelings that they came up with. Chart the words, and make a note of things that repeat.
Next, ask students to write and/or draw about a time they were kind, or someone was kind to them, and what impact it had.
Gather the stories, drawings, index cards or post-its, and place them all together on a wall of your classroom or on a bulletin board to remind students about how powerful kindness can be.