Fostering kindness in your classroom is a helpful way to build community and teach students empathy. Through hands-on kindness activities for elementary students, you can engage them in showing compassion to others. Keep reading for five simple ideas you can do this week that get students to express kindness through their actions.
Group Brainstorms to Promote Kindness
Give students common social scenarios that happen at school. Events might include games at recess, someone getting a bad grade, forgetting their homework, or feeling embarrassed because they fell during gym.
Brainstorm ways to show kindness to someone in the situation as a group. Discuss how it would feel if someone did one of these for you. You could also role play a few of the scenarios with students.
Children's Books About Kindness
Children's books are chock-full of kindness themes. They are an engaging and familiar format for students. Walk into your library and grab any of the ones below. They are great examples of kindness that students can relate to.
- Be Kind
- Recess Queen
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
- Cool Bean
- The Invisible Boy
Possible Discussion Prompts
- How does the main character show kindness in the story?
- How did their kindness affect others?
- How can you show kindness to others like (character)?
- What did you learn from this story about the importance of kindness?
- How has someone shown kindness to you?
Sharing Kind Thoughts
Discuss with students how one kind act we can do for someone else is to share our kind thoughts with them or about them. For example, someone may need encouragement when trying something new or challenging. They could reassure someone after a setback. Simple notes expressing gratitude or a compliment are a great exercise also. Work with students to think about people in their lives they could share these types of kind thoughts with. Then give them a simple template or organizer to help them write the note.
Download free compliment stem cards here.
For one week, have students express their gratitude daily by noting one kind act they saw. These can be small everyday events, like someone holding the door or offering to help carry something. Discuss with students how small acts of kindness can have significant impacts and create a positive environment.
Okay, so this one is more complex, but you can make the brainstorming, planning, and execution something that the students do. Think about possible projects at your school or in your community: picking up trash, planting a garden, volunteering at a food bank, being a pen pal for a senior citizen, and mentoring younger students.
One of my schools had a buddy program where fifth graders and kindergartens got paired up. Their classes would do recess together, have joint class parties, help them get packed up, and more. Students would look forward to becoming a big buddy when they reached fifth grade.
When I was a fifth grader, my teacher created a pen pal program with a local nursing home. We wrote letters to senior citizens and visited them at the end of the year.
Keep it simple and find ways your students can express kindness to their community through tangible actions.
Get Started Teaching Kindness
Teaching kindness to elementary students is a great way to build community and teach empathy. With the five easy kindness activities outlined in this article, you can engage your students in showing compassion to others. From roleplaying scenarios of everyday social events at school, reading children’s books on kindness, sharing kind thoughts, keeping gratitude journals, or even doing service projects for the local community, teachers can use these activities to build a kind classroom.
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Teach kindness to students through quick, engaging activities. When students see kind acts and reflect on them, they are more likely to do them in the classroom community. Use these activities throughout the year to encourage kindness!