I don't know about you, but the middle of the year is tough for my students. Kids are getting very comfortable with each other, and often start to get on each other's nerves. I teach 4th and 5th grade, and this time of year is always difficult. We start to hear about many more incidents of teasing, frustration, exclusion, and drama. While we work on community building and conflict resolution in our classroom every day, this time of year calls for a little something extra. February happens to be the month in which Random Acts of Kindness Week takes place, and it's a great time for a month-long 'Kindness Challenge'! There are many ways to do a Kindness Challenge in your classroom, but here's my super simple & easy plan:
1. As a class, discuss what it means to be kind. Talk about how acts of kindness make you and others feel.
2. Brainstorm as many random acts of kindness as you can. In my classroom, we just focused on school, but you can add ideas for home too!
3. After brainstorming, fill out the Kindness Challenge game board (attached below--there is also a pre-made one!) with your class' ideas and print a copy for each student. I also turned it into a poster to hang up in the classroom.
4. Each day, encourage students to look at their game board and try to pick 1 thing they are going to do that day.
5. At the end of the day as students are packing up or completing independent work, walk around & ask students which act they completed, then give them a sticker (or a stamp) to put in that box. Challenge your class to see who can get a row across, a column down, or a diagonal line (bingo style!)--and see who can fill up their entire board!
1. Be sure to have a discussion with your class about honesty and integrity when they report what they did that day. Praise the student who is honest enough to admit that they didn't complete one that day, and encourage them to try tomorrow.
2. When I started the challenge, I asked my class to think about this question: "Do you think there should be a prize involved?"...about 20 thumbs up shot up right away. I continued on to say, "Think about the point of kindness and why we are doing this. Are we doing this to earn prizes? If we do these things just to earn a prize, is that truly being kind?" and slowly the thumbs up turned to thumbs down. It can still be a challenge without a tangible prize--remind your students that the real prize is the feeling of pride & happiness you get from spreading kindness!
3. You may have some students that complete a bunch of acts in one day. I tell my students that this is GREAT, but if they fill up their board quickly, they will get a new blank board to come up with more ideas and complete more acts of kindness! The point isn't to get it "done" quickly!
4. Finally, at the end of the month, have a reflective conversation with your students. How did you feel this month? Were there certain acts of kindness that made you feel extra good when you did them or received them? How did our classroom feel? What was your mood like at school? And, most importantly, should the kindness stop now that the month is over? See what thoughts they have!
Are you doing a 'Kindness Challenge' or something similar in your classroom? What does it look like? I would love to hear!