Students often need reminders about being kind to one another. Teaching students about kindness makes a big impact on student behavior. National Random Acts of Kindness, celebrated every February 17, is a great time to add a few activities into your lessons to encourage kindness.
Check out these ideas including inspirational quotes, stories, short films, and animated shorts into your lessons. In the provided handout, you will find materials for six activities plus links and suggestions for more ideas.
Teaching Students about Kindness Idea #1 – Quote of the Week
Have a special location in the room designated for kindness quotes. Change them regularly. When students become used to seeing the same things in the room they become “invisible.”
Here are a few quotes to get you started.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington
“Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching” – C.S. Lewis
“If you see someone without a smile, give them yours” – Dolly Parton
“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou
Teaching Students about Kindness Idea #2 – Song Lyrics
Substitute quotes from time to time with song lyrics. Add a lyrical quote from a song about kindness to your “quote board.” Play the song for students. After a brief discussion, the “Quote of the Week” will be a reminder of the discussion.
Here are a few “oldies but goodies” to get you started.
Try a Little Kindness by Glen Campbell
Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Al Green and Annie Lennox
I’ll Be There for You – Theme From Friends by The Rembrandts
Count on Me by Bruno Mars
You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story
More suggestions are found in the handout.
Teaching Students about Kindness Idea #3 – Inspirational Stories
Reader’s digest asked readers to submit firsthand accounts of acts of kindness. An end result is a group of 30 stories that will lift your spirits about the kindness of others. These stories are about 100 words long. This makes them great additions to kindness lessons. Select a few and mix them in with the song lyrics and quotes to encourage students to be kind.
Idea #4 – Picture Books that Help Teach Kindness
Picture books can teach great lessons for students in upper elementary.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is one of these books. In the story, a new student with raggedy clothes comes to school. The other students ignore her until the teacher teaches how kindness has a ripple effect. Will the lesson come too late?
Comparing Each Kindness to Dolly Parton’s The Coat of Many Colors works exceptionally well. The stories have a lot of similarities. Dolly comes to school with holes in her clothes and a beautiful coat her mother makes from rags. Dolly’s positive attitude when she is teased makes for great classroom discussions.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig tells about a boy who seems to disappear in a crowd because he doesn’t misbehave or require help from the teacher. The illustrations in this story will really help students understand how kindness affects others.
Idea #5 – Short Films that Help Teach Kindness
In this short film, a boy opens his lunchbox only to discover that it is empty. When he leaves the room to get water to fill his empty stomach, the other students fill his lunchbox up with bits and pieces of their lunches.
Students love watching animated short films. They make great springboards for teaching many skills.
In the animated short Android Rock, Paper, Scissors, three “enemies” work together to scare away bullies. This Good Samaritan Story is very powerful. This film will really get students thinking about how to help one another.
The animated short Wings features a mouse that helps a bird that has been tangled in a string. Not only does the mouse free the bird but also helps him during his recovery. This heartwarming story about helping others shows that kindness can have big rewards.
The Teaching Resources
This handout includes YouTube links to videos for each story.
The handout also contains a printable booklet for students to complete as they watch or read the stories. Illustrated instructions for making the booklet are included as well as answer keys.
For teachers that prefer digital resources, the activities are provided as Google Slides.
Get everything you need for six kindness lessons in this handout.
“Have courage and be kind. Where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic.” – Disney’s Cinderella