Tree and Board Ideas:
Gratitude Tree: craft makes a great centerpiece all year round and is a daily reminder to your child what to be grateful for. Use real tree branches in a glass container to hang tags filled with the things your thankful for.
Take a cut out of the craft paper in the leaf shape.
- Use the craft leaf as a template for tracing the rest of the leaves on a bigger sheet.
- Punch holes in the leaves tie a piece of string in the holes.
- Add rocks to the base of the vase and stick the tree branch there so that it stands erect.
- Ask your kids to draw or write about things that they are thankful for. If they are too young, you can write for them.
- Tie the leaves on the “tree branches”.
Gratitude Board: have your child cut pictures out about what he or she is grateful for. Their pets, their shoes, their house, their teacher, the school crossing guard who keeps them safe, water to keep them clean, their parents, their clothes, their jacket which keeps them warm, photos from family vacations
Friendship Tree: Draw a tree on your board. Have a paper or magnet heart prepared with each child’s name. Have the children close their eyes and choose a heart with another child’s name. They identify the name and think of something nice they could do for that child. Then they hang the heart on an empty branch on the tree.
Lighthouse: Create a lighthouse with good character traits angled out as light beams (e.g. kindness, respect, honesty, responsibility). Discuss how we can best shine our light and talk about these different traits.
Virtue Tree: Create a big tree on your board (or on a bulletin board if you wish it to stay visible for a longer period of time), and attach a different virtue (in the shape of a leaf with the virtue written on it, e.g., courtesy, kindness, helpfulness, gentleness) each week. Discuss the virtue at group time, and have children give examples of how to express the virtue.
Story Time/Group Time:
Storytelling: Create a very short story and have children respond. For example: Johnny is riding his bike. He falls off, hurts his knee, and starts to cry. What could you do to help him?
Friendship: Discuss at group time how you know people are friends (e.g., they smile at each other, help each other, hold hands). Then sing “The More We Get Together” and let the children hold hands in a circle and dance.
Spider Web: Have the children sit in a circle and explain that you’re going to make a spider web. Give the first child the end of the string and the ball. He or she holds the end with one hand and with the other rolls the ball to another child. It continues in the same manner from child to child. Remind them to hang on. At the end, discuss that we are all connected and the importance of being kind to everybody in the class.
Hold Gratitude Story Time once a week, during which children and teachers can share stories of kindness from their daily lives. Children could draw a picture about their gratitude story and share it with the class. After sharing, talk about how gratitude and kindness makes both the giver and the recipient fee1. Also, discuss why gratitude is important to both friendships and families.
Hold a “Gratitude Sharing Day” once a week. Sit in a circle, and have everyone in the class say something nice about one child. The teacher writes all the comments on a “You Are Special” sheet and gives it to the child or posts it on the bulletin board with the child’s photograph.
In a circle, have each child talk about one relative or friend and say why that person is so special. Then discuss what kind act (e.g., give a hug, draw a picture) the child could do to let the person know that he/she is special.
Encourage the children to do one nice thing everyday, like give a hug, lend a crayon, or play with someone new.
Start each day with a story about gratitude from www.values.com.
Uniqueness: At group time, discuss what makes us unique as individuals. Discuss that we all have similarities and differences and the importance of acceptance. Have each child draw a picture of him/herself and a picture of a classmate (perhaps drawing the names out of a bowl). Then discuss the drawings in relation to similarities/differences between classmates.
Friendship Hands: Create handprints of each child. String them together as if everyone is holding hands, and hang it in the classroom.
Mommy’s Favorite Book (or Daddy, Grandma, friend, etc.): Have each child create a book. The children fill in the blanks (Mommy’s favorite food, song, outfit, things to do, etc.) and then design the artwork. This helps children find out about others’ likes and dislikes and can be tied into caring for one another by respecting their preferences. It also makes a treasured gift!
Friendship Salad: Have each child bring an item to add to your friendship salad (e.g., strawberries, grapes). Design a big smile into the salad and discuss how everyone participated to make it smile.
Stone Soup: Read aloud the story “Stone Soup” and have each child bring in ingredients. Prepare the soup. Discuss how each child’s contribution combines with other contributions and they all work together to make something that wasn’t there before. Celebrate the kindness of sharing.
Adopt a local assisted-living home and do some exchange programs (e.g. talent show, holiday treats, visits).
Hop-a-Thon: Hold a hop-a-thon to raise money for your RAK project or for a local worthwhile cause. Have adults pledge money per hop and donate the earnings. The children hop for one minute, with the teacher timing the minute. Make it a fun event with refreshments!
Toy Giveaway: Young children love growing up. Find a local charity that needs used toys, books, etc. Initiate a toy drive at your school: have the children and their parents decide which toys the children have outgrown and donate them.
Peace Rose: The peace rose is used throughout the year after the initial group lesson about it. The peace rose is used when two children are having a difficult time resolving a conflict. It is placed in the same place for the entire year. When two children are having a conflict, one of them (or a third child mediator) retrieves the peace rose. They discuss their problem by taking turns talking and expressing their feelings. One child holds the rose and gets to talk without being interrupted by the other child. Then the rose is passed to the other child so he/she can talk uninterrupted. Whoever has the rose gets to talk without being interrupted by another child. After they have resolved their problem or overcome the difficulty, they all put hands on the rose and say “All declare peace.” The flower is then replaced on the shelf.
Peace Table: Set up a special table with two chairs and a flower arrangement. If two children are having difficulty, they may sit at the table and discuss it. They keep their hands in their lap and take turns without interrupting, and resolve their conflict. Then they may shake hands (or hug if they choose) and go back to their work. The lesson for this activity is given at the beginning of the year.
Angel Box: Have the children look for others being kind. When they notice something, they may write it down, draw a picture of it, or have the teacher write it out. Then they put it in the angel box. At the end of the week, the stories and drawings are read and discussed at group.
Start a “sticker campaign” to spread kindness. Staff members and teachers can pick up stickers each Monday as they sign in, then give them to kids they observe doing a Random Act of Kindness, telling them exactly what they did to earn the sticker.
Have your classroom create a kindness quilt for display at the school, in a shopping mall, or at the mayor’s office. Each child draws a kindness picture on a patch and then asks a group of parent volunteers to assemble the quilt. If multiple quilts are made, they can be distributed to children’s hospitals and shelters for the homeless.
Have the students create an alphabetical list of easy Kindness activities together. For instance:
A: I pet a friendly Animal.
B: I Brought my laundry to the washroom.
C: I helped a person Carry something.
X: I gave someone in my family an eXtra hug.
Then make up a Gratitude page on bright paper with the A – Z activities listed on it. As the students complete each Gratitude activity, they can tell about it and punch out that letter with a hole punch (with help if needed). When the students punch out their letters completely, they get their names on a bulletin board with perhaps a quote from them about why Gratitude is important or about how their Gratitude activities made them feel.
Talk with the children about being kind to animals. Let them tell stories about how they are kind to their pets. Discuss how to take care of a dog or cat, including food, water, exercise, immunizations, and affection. Encourage them to draw pictures of animals, and post the pictures on a “Be Kind to Animals” bulletin board.
Try a “Pizza Gratitude Kids” event, where each child gets a kindness pizza divided into sections. When they do a random act of gratitude for someone, they get that person’s signature on that one section. When all kids in the class have completed their gratitude pizzas, they get a pizza party.