How can you integrate kindness activities for kids throughout the school year to encourage students to treat each other with respect and kindness? I used to focus class kindness activities during the holidays in December and Valentine’s Day, but I thought it was important to create an ongoing focus on kindness throughout the school year for my first grade students. These are some of the ideas and activities I used to promote kindness in the classroom and at school throughout the year.
1. A Schoolwide Approach
It was helpful to have a schoolwide effort to promote kindness. My school had four main school rules. BE KIND was at the top of the list:
- Be kind.
- Be respectful.
- Be responsible.
- Be safe.
The Great Kindness Challenge
Our school participated in The Great Kindness Challenge. You can check out the site for positive and proactive activities and projects that can be done schoolwide or used for individual classrooms. It’s an opportunity to focus on kindness in a bigger way to create a school kindness culture. The official date for The Great Kindness Challenge is usually in late January, but schools can participate at any time during the school year.
The Great Kindness Challenge schoolwide activities include a checklist of 50 kindness challenges, a kindness art contest, Kind Coins, and class kindness banners for a “Wall of Kindness,” and more!
For example, one year we had a spirit day themed: “Peace, Love, and Kindness.” Both students and staff dressed up in hippie attire. A different student each day recited kindness quotes over the intercom to start each morning. PTO volunteers wrote kindness quotes with chalk on the blacktop areas of our school. Each class designed and decorated classroom doors with a kindness theme to participate in a door decorating contest.
💟 Check out The Great Kindness Challenge for more information.
2. Kindness Picture Books
Read picture books about kindness to the class throughout the year. Place a basket of kindness books in your class library for students to reread. Below are some of my favorites.
❤️ Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
One of my favorite kindness books is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. It’s a heart-warming story about a lonely man. He receives a mystery package one day with a note that says, “Somebody Loves You.” Mr. Hatch thinks he has a secret admirer. He is happy with the thought that he has someone who is a secret admirer. He, in turn, begins to interact more with others and extend kind acts to others. At the end, he is surprised with the kind and loving way others return his kindness. It’s the perfect book to show how kindness can spread. You can also use this book as a Valentine’s Day read aloud book.
❤️ Pink Tiara Cookies for Three
Another kindness picture book that I’ve used is Pink Tiara Cookies for Three by Maria Dismondy. It’s a story about a new girl who moves into the neighborhood and how two friends work thru accepting her into their friendship.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is a book about a new girl in school who tries to reach out to others but is ignored. It’s a lesson on how even a small act of kindness can make our world a better one.
❤️The Potato Chip Champ
The Potato Chip Champ: Discovering Why Kindness Counts by Maria Dismondy is a story about a boy who loves potato chips. Even though he has everything, he wants more. He learns an important lesson about kindness from a classmate who has very little. Your students can listen to Maria Dismondy read the book.
3. Kindness Posters
Keep kindness posters up on the walls of your classroom to promote kindness. Kindness can encompass being considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, respectful and thoughtful. Use the posters as helpful reminders and to prompt discussions about being kind to others.
4. Classroom Challenge Task Cards
Challenge your students with challenge task cards. Post a different challenge each day for students to perform an act of kindness. Or, place challenge task cards at a kindness activity center. Your students can choose an act of kindness to focus on for the day.
5. Kindness Counts Challenges
Start by having your students brainstorm ways to be kind to others. Post the ideas on an anchor chart for student reference.
Create kindness challenges for students from the ideas that students have brainstormed. Challenge your students to complete them throughout the school year. Use them at school or as homework. It’s a fun way to get families involved.
6. Kindness Writing Prompts
Have your students write about their acts of kindness. Writing about kind behavior is a great way to prompt discussions or follow up on student discussions about kindness.
I’ve used these kindness activities and ideas throughout the school year. You can easily adapt them for individual, class, and partner activities. Challenges can be assigned for class activities or as homework activities.
💟 For more of these kindness activities and challenges, check out Kindness Counts.
I hope with the Great Kindness Challenge, kindness read aloud books, and activity ideas and projects, you can encourage a kindness culture in your school and classroom.