Creating a positive school culture is such an important step in engaging students in learning. Consistent and frequent kindness activities help build empathy, let students feel comfortable taking risks and create an accepting class community.
Research shows that when students view their teacher as caring and kind, they have better attendance, better grades, and are more engaged in the classroom. Find the spare moments in the day, whether it is morning work or after recess, to integrate simple kindness activities that pack that punch.
Kindness Journals are a great way to have students reflect on what they can do to create a culture of kindness. You can use different prompts that have students reflect on kind acts they have done and kind acts that have been done for them. Even more powerful is having students then break out into discussion groups based on their responses. The Kindness Journal prompts I have used have students think about actions they could take immediately, how kindness can change their classroom, and ways someone has been kind to them before.
At the end of your day or class, have students stand or sit in a circle. The student to your left can begin by choosing another student in the circle to give a compliment too. You can proceed around the circle with students choosing someone else who hasn’t been picked. To keep track and make sure all students receive a compliment, students can sit down (or stand up) after they receive a compliment.
If you are concerned about students feeling bad if they are not picked until the end, pick out a name before you start and then go around the circle.
Kindness Bingo or a Kindness Calendar is a great way to get students thinking about how they can show kindness to others in their class, school, home, or community. I love the idea of having a Kindness Jar in the classroom filled with kind acts students can do right away.
On Monday morning, students can choose one kind act they will do that week. Post them on a bulletin board when they are complete or use them as leaves on a kindness tree or as petals in a kindness garden bulletin board.
Kindness Rocks! Garden
Students in any grade can get on board with kindness rocks. Paint rocks and write an act of kindness on them. When a student completes that act of kindness, they get to write their name on the back, and “plant” the rock in the garden. Check out the Kindness Rocks Project.
Have I Ever Told You?
This is a great activity for classes that might be shyer about sharing their kind thoughts. Each student receives a blank “Have I Ever Told You” printout. They put their names on the top and pass it to the person next to them. Everyone then writes down a compliment or kind thought in one of the categories and passes it along. This continues until each student receives their own sheet back.
Depending on the number of students in your classroom, you may want to break students into smaller groups. Make sure to give students enough time, as well as guidelines for what to write (and not to write).
Thanks a Bunch
Have students take time to thank someone in the school that normally does not receive their daily kudos. Students can make cards for school staff like the custodian, the secretary, the bus driver, the nurse, or the principal.
It can be helpful to involve the students in deciding who to pick so they take ownership. Often, students like to partner up to write the notes. It is awesome to see them brainstorming about all the way these unrecognized folks help them every day.
Make Kindness Sticky
In one class I worked with, at the end of each week, students wrote down on sticky notes someone they wanted to shout-out. The shout-outs were thank yous, words of admiration, and simple warm thoughts they had about someone else.
Did you know you can print on sticky notes?? It’s my favorite. Leave them on students’ desks or a fellow staff member’s door. They are wonderful pick-me-ups that keep that culture of kindness going.
How do you promote kindness in your school or classroom?
Keep the list of kindness activities going in the comments below!
Check out what other Confident Counselors do to promote a culture of kindness in their schools.