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Schools – Pay it Forward May Ideas

The message is simple: Do something nice for someone and ask nothing in return other than they do something nice for someone else. Part of the beauty of this initiative is that it doesn’t have to cost a cent.

ABOUT Pay it Forward May

This is the 8th year the Winkler Community Foundation has been organizing and celebrating Pay it Forward May in Winkler & Morden!  Even though we support demonstrating kindness every day, we set aside May to revitalize the kindness concept on a mass scale and band together as a community to spread it around.  Companies, students, community groups and citizens are encouraged to plan their own activities. We supply support material templates and ideas to encourage participation.

This year we want to continue reaching students in elementary and high schools to learn about how they can make a difference in their community through paying it forward.

The activities around good deeds and kindness help children learn a most important life-long interpersonal skill and raises the self-esteem of those children who may go unnoticed and unloved far too often.


There are numerous benefits attached to paying kindness forward and helping someone else in need. Specifically:

Ideas to get your students Thinking about Paying It Forward:

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.

Website Resources

Visit this fantastic website for lots of great ideas:

Pay it forward/Kindness Colouring:

Have your students colour a picture showing them doing an act of kindness and have them give it to someone to brighten their day!

 Compliments Game:

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!

Kindness Lesson:

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!

Research Study on Kindness:

Teachers lead the class and help them to come up with a list of possible research questions.  Narrow down the best questions and pick 4 – 6 of the best ones.  Sample Research Questions to Consider: Have you ever done some-thing kind for no reason?  If so, what?  Has someone ever surprised you by doing something really nice?  If so, what?  Have you done something kind TODAY?   What is ONE idea how to show kindness in our school?

Teachers then divide students into pairs of Kindness Researchers.  The students then take turns asking the other pairs to answer their survey (rotate until they have enough to discuss).  Students can then compile their answers and organize the YES/NO responses, as well as the list of various idea answers.    Students should be encouraged to come up with some conclusions based on their research findings (for example “90% of people have done some-thing kind for no reason, but only 50% have ever been surprised by a kind act.  The most popular idea for showing kindness in our school is to make a thank you card for the school secretary”) .

A discussion after the findings are revealed will generate feedback on how Kindness can be added into our daily lives a bit more.

Story Starters with Heart:  Encourage Imagination and Empathy

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?

Origami Game for Kindness

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.


The Vision of Pay If Forward

While we are blessed to live in such amazing communities and schools where so much kind-heartedness happens every day, we hope that people will slow down just a little and recognize when someone does something nice for them. And, then hopefully they will pay that thoughtfulness forward. By doing so, our communities become better places to live, work and play!

We’d love to hear your stories of how you engage your students!

Kindness is contagious – so let’s pass our stories on to encourage others! If you witness, or experience a Pay it Forward act of kindness, please post to your Facebook or Instagram, tag the Winkler Community Foundation and include the hashtag #PIFMAY or email the Winkler Community Foundation  to share Pay it forward events and stories.


Together we can impact our community through Pay It Forward this May.

NB – additional activities. The following can be adapted for different ages.
With the younger children, it is suggested that the teacher engage them in discussion about kindness and how they feel when someone says something complimentary to them or when someone does a thoughtful deed for them. Role play would be really helpful and lots of fun. Brainstorming: ideas of how they could help others; kind words and compliments.

With older children, discussion would be more specific and philosophical. What is a Pay it Forward act of kindness? Is it a good deed to give your little sister a candy you have been given if in fact you don’t really like those candies?


Quote from a high school student:
“ When a person experiences that brief shining moment where they go beyond what is expected of them and do something for another person for no reason other than love, then that is the best emotion a person can feel. One unique thing about these deeds is that they are unconditional. This means that regardless of what someone might have done to you or might not have done for you, the kind act will still exist.”


 Ideas for Celebrating PIF May visually:

(1) 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.


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.


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.


Ideas for Celebrating PIF May:

(1) STICKY NOTE KINDNESS: A simple and quick way to bright up someone’s day

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!

Here are a few phrases to get you started:


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’.


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.


The children can make paper flowers then visit a nursing home or senior centre and delight the residents/participants there with their creations.


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.



The students are placed in groups of about 4 or 6 students. Each group researches a charity that they might be interested in helping. They are encouraged to write letters to the charity to ask how they could best help. e.g. a local nursing home, a family refuge, a foster home, local children’s hospital, cancer research unit, nearby preschool. [A charity list is available through the Winkler Community Foundation].


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.


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.


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.



Boost staff morale and reward ‘overlooked’ staff by stealthily depositing little gifts into staff mailboxes with a personal note acknowledging the person’s contribution. Each typed note was signed “Someone Who Cares”. There was a noticeable, positive difference in the atmosphere of the staff room and the sneaky givers got an absolute thrill out of making a difference.

For more information contact: Myra Peters, Executive Director, Winkler Community Foundation

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