We have included a few ideas for activities in this package that teachers could facilitate in their classes to share the message of Pay It Forward May.
Have your students color a picture or poster to brighten someone’s day!
Break students into groups and give each child a piece of paper. Ask them to tear it into pieces–one for each child in the group. On each piece, they should write the child’s name, and then list all of the positive characteristics they can think of about that student. Try to have them focus on personality traits and behaviors, not physical attributes. When finished, have all of the responses put into a box. The teacher can read aloud all of the positive comments about each child. The children are usually very surprised at how many great things are said about them!
Have each student trace their hand on a piece of paper. Ask them to think of different ways people can be kind to others. Have them write their ideas on each finger of the hand drawing. It can be completed as described or cut out, mounted and decorated. It can also make a great ‘Kindness Collage’ in your classroom!
Storytelling is the basic tool we have for stepping into the shoes of someone else. These printable story prompts are great for class activities and can be tailored for any age group. Turn your final products into a storytelling festival!
Teachers of younger students can download the printable story starter from our web-site page and allow students to pick the theme they like. Options are: Superhero, I can Help!, What if Nobody was Kind? and Blank. Students can work alone or collaborate within a group. Discuss possible responses to get ideas started. Students write and illustrate their story, adding more pages as required. Teachers can follow up with questions after the stories are complete. Who is your story about? What problem or challenge is your main character facing? How could your character have acted differently? How could Kindness have changed the story or the ending?
Make a list of great ideas for showing Kindness with your class (print out our 101 Act of Kindness Ideas to get ideas flowing). Students then create their own Kindness Origami games, inserting various ways to be kind behind each flap. Some ideas could be “say one thing you are thankful for”, “hold the door open for someone”, “say thank you”, “speak nicely”, “comfort a friend”, “tell your mom you love her”, “pick up 2 pieces of garbage”, etc.
CAUGHT BEING KIND: Where do you see kindness in your school? Create bulletin boards that provide students with opportunities to recognize and share kindness with others.
PAY IT FORWARD TREE
A huge leafless tree is drawn and painted by the students and displayed in the school. Students also design the leaves which are photocopied on various shades of green card and printed out, along with a fewer number of spectacular flowers. [refer to the Giving Tree in Shel Silverstein’s book]
Whenever a child is seen to be doing a good deed or tells a teacher that he/she has done a good deed [the little ones in particular can’t wait to tell the teacher about their good deeds], he/she is given a leaf with his/her name on it. This is then placed on the tree. For every five [ten ?] leaves placed on the tree, a flower is then added.
This is a visual representation of kindnesses shown within the school community.
Children could also be asked to give out leaves to teachers they see being particularly kind.
THE GOOD DEEDS JAR
Start with a clear plastic peanut butter jar. Ask students to write down an acts of kindness they saw or did on sticky notes and read them at circle time, and the children put them in the jar. As the jar gets fuller, challenge them, “Can we fill it up? Can you find someone doing a kind thing? Did you do something kind today?”
You can focus on specific acts of kindness: kindness to animals, our friends at school, our family, our neighbors, ourselves, the earth. The joy on their faces as they do kind acts and get “caught” saying kind things is worth a million dollars.
Create a clown for a pin board. The clown holds the strings of lots of balloons. At discussion time, encourage the children to contribute ideas for kindness and doing good deeds (e.g., lend a crayon, hug a friend, pick up toys). Place the ideas on the balloons.
STICKY NOTE KINDNESS: Grab a stack of sticky notes and spend five minutes writing positive statements on them. Then place the sticky notes anywhere that needs a little kindness like an office, a bus stop, a gas pump, a parked car, a hallway, or hidden around your home!
Students make cookies or decorate biscuits and visit the local police station or fire station [having booked a tour previously to learn about these careers]. The children thank the staff for the work they do protecting the community while endangering their own lives. They then give out the cookies, asking that the police officers in turn to ‘pay it forward’.
GIFTS OF ART / GIFTS OF THANKS
Each child paints a picture of their choice [connected to family, pets, helping someone or to the current curriculum]. Present the artwork to elderly at the personal care home.
The children make suitable bookmarks, placemats or cards to thank the parents and staff who work in the school, perhaps in the office, the library, reading groups etc.
WHO HELPS US IN THE COMMUNITY
Children discuss the people who are helpful in the community, people who are always thinking of others. e.g. police, fire brigade, ambulance officers, nurses, doctors, vets, garbage collectors, postmen, delivery drivers, florists, etc. Create “Thank-you” posters for these community groups and have students deliver them.
Kindness essay about the benefits of helping others.
Poem or song about Kindness
Artwork depicting some act of kindness
Poster of kind words and compliments
Create a Kindness slogan
In small groups or pairs, write a story which encapsulates the idea of Pay It Forward May. Write, illustrate and publish for presentation.
LITERACY WITH A PURPOSE
Students could read to the elderly at a personal care home, at the senior centre or invite seniors or grandparents to come listen to students read.
Students could chat with elderly residents of a retirement home and make notes on the stories they impart. The students could be armed with interview type questions to break the ice. Back at school they would then publish these stories into a booklet which is then given to the resident with a thoughtful card and of course the Pay It Forward May card attached. A lovely photo of the resident could be scanned onto the front of the book.
NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF KINDNESS
Scan local newspapers and find reports of kindness.
Write newspaper article about an act of kindness you observe. Pretend it is for the front page of a major newspaper and give a dramatic headline.
Visit this fantastic website for lots of great ideas: www.doinggoodtogether.org