“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
This is so powerful because kindness heals and it’s always a good idea to choose compassion. They are small acts that can make such a big difference. Kindness is so impactful when it comes to getting your class through tough times and simply giving them a sense of a sweet community.
No matter what point you are in the school year, these 5 ideas will help propel the kindness in your community forward. They’ll also help get your kiddos on the right track to supporting one another.
#1 – Set Expectations
Kindness is a core value in the classroom that needs to be explicitly taught AND modeled for students. The best way to set expectations is to figure out what students already know about kindness and what it means to them.
One easy way to help students understand this concept and how it impacts them is by explicitly teaching about what it is and isn’t. We love to read How Full Is Your Bucket? By Tom Rath. It’s a great book that gives students a really concrete way to see the effects when someone is kind or unkind to us and vice versa. Another way is by creating anchor charts with students to collect thinking and build understanding. You can use THESE anchor charts as you read different kindness books together and begin setting your own expectations.
Check out THESE activities to see what kindness means to each student and what fills their bucket!
#2 – Show and Foster It
What is the number one way students learn? They learn from what they see and mimic actions. Modeling and allowing students opportunities to practice is key. Once we have taken time to set our class kindness expectations, we have to allow students time to practice, practice, and practice some more. WE must also be the model we want students to see. We must display kindness and teach students how to express themselves kindly, especially during conflicts or with people we may not get along well with. It’s always easy to be kind to our friends, right? But kindness is something everyone deserves, no matter who we interact with.
One great way to model and allow for practice is by role playing different situations. Students get to act scenarios out, over and over and over again, until they’ve got it down. All of these skills work together to create a safe space for students to express themselves and be kind in many situations. You are setting expectations for an environment where peers are communicating, problem solving, and apologizing when they’re wrong so everyone feels good to speak up when needed.
Check out THESE cards to help students practice role playing kindness in a number of different situations.
Another easy way to help students deal with conflict in a kind way is with one of my favorite read alouds. It’s a great book to help students navigate how to let someone know that something has upset them. A Bug and a Wish by Karen Scheuer teaches a very simple and effective way to say, “Hey, I don’t like that. Please fix it.” You can check out the poster that I love using below! It provides students with the language they need so that they can begin to express themselves in a respectful way.
Handling Conflicts and Problem Solving
#3 – Use Literature
If you couldn’t tell from my other two ideas and how I coupled them with books, I love using literature to help teach topics to students. It’s one of the easiest and most fun ways to teach kindness! Check out some of my favorite read-alouds below.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Kindness is Cooler Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath
One great way to extend the learning is doing a great book companion activity! After reading Kindness is Cooler Mrs. Ruler, I love to give the students the same assignment that Mrs. Ruler gives out! It’s a fun way to engage students in kindness activities at home. Each student gets 5 hearts on Friday afternoon and as they bring them back in, have them share their acts of kindness and create an anchor chart. They LOVE showing off and it spreads more kindness!
#4 – Keep Kindness In The Air
Now that you’ve set expectations, modeled, and practiced, how do we keep that kindness going strong? I like to praise all the kind acts I see! Catch them being kind, make a big deal when you see a student display kindness, and you can set up your own reinforcers like the ones below.
Have you ever heard of a kindness chain? It’s a great visual display that reinforces those acts of kindness. Simply print these strips on colored paper and put them out for students. Have them write on one each time they display an act of kindness or when they catch someone else being kind! Before you know it, your kindness chain will be wrapping all around the room!! Grab yours FREE below!
Grab this free resource now!
You can also reward students when they reach a certain number of links or when they’ve used all their slips after giving them a set amount to use.
You can also keep the kindness going with THESE anchor chart headers. Check out some of the examples we use to spread the love to all of our students below!!
#5 – Build Empathy
Kindness comes easier when you have empathy for others. The problem is, it’s not always easy to have empathy especially when you’re young and still learning. Here are a few great ways to help build empathy! Not shocking, they all include a read-aloud!
For the first read aloud, provide each student with a cutout of a heart and sit down together to read the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Instruct students to crumble their paper a little bit every time they hear something unkind in the story. At the end, challenge students to open up and smooth out their hearts to try and see if they can make it look like before. This teaches an important lesson to students that those little scars will stay on our hearts so we must always think before we act. It helps them visually see what happens to someone on the inside when we are unkind and also shows them that even if we apologize, we can’t undo our actions.
The next book we love to read is Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. We then quite literally have students take a walk in someone else’s shoes and notice how they feel or how they fit. It’s a concrete way to help students understand what it means to have empathy for someone. We end it with THIS fun empathy craft!
Other Social Emotional Resources
Social emotional learning is SO important for students and there are so many important skills to help them thrive in the classroom and in their lives. Below you’ll find more tools to help support your students and ultimately make your classroom a wonderful place to be!
Why Social Emotional is Important
20ish Awesome Read Alouds for SEL
Sometimes we’re not given the tools we need or not sure how to implement these values into our classrooms. I’ve got you covered! Check out the growing bundle of engaging, hands-on, valuable tools, lessons, and resources to support your students, while they learn these important life skills in a fun way! Because this is a growing bundle, when you purchase, you’ll get any new resource ever added for FREE! Grab yours below!
Social Emotional Growing Bundle
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