Often, the most important skills that students learn are social-emotional skills such as kindness, empathy, and self-control. There are many fun ways to encourage, promote and celebrate these skills in the classroom. And they should be celebrated, as the results are long-lasting and invaluable. Any teacher can use these fifteen activities to develop a positive classroom culture!
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1. Use a Care Bear to celebrate.
All you need is a Care Bear and a slip of paper to celebrate students who have shown kindness in the classroom.
The simple act can be written on a slip of paper and attached to the bear. The student can take the bear home for the night to celebrate.
2. Assemble a kindness jar.
Students can write their thoughtful deeds on small pieces of paper and place them in a mason jar. Each day, the teacher can randomly choose one paper from the jar to read aloud. If you want to, hand out Jolly Ranchers to celebrate the kind behavior.
3. Handing out kindness like confetti.
This is an easy way to decorate your classroom door. The students can be given markers and fill the sticky notes with examples of their courteous behavior, and place them on the classroom door. This will start the day out right as students can read them as they walk into the room. More awesome sticky note ideas for your classroom here!
4. Write sidewalk chalk sentiments.
Sidewalk chalk is very popular this year as students haven’t been allowed to use playground equipment due to Covid restrictions. Students can write something nice they did for another student on the playground for all to see and celebrate.
5. Be the “I” in kind.
After students show generosity they can take over the spot of the I in a mural or bulletin board display that says Kind. Take a picture of each student and compile them into a special photo book.
6. Hand out kindness coins.
This is a great way to recognize students who display friendly and empathetic behaviors on a daily basis. Teachers can give students the kindness coins as a token of appreciation for building a positive classroom culture.
7. Create a chain reaction.
Every time a student exhibits a charitable act, a link made out of construction paper can be created with the kind action written on it. The word LOVE or KIND can be constructed when enough links are made.
8. Make a kindness tree on a bulletin board.
The bulletin board can be left up the whole year long. Use brown butcher paper to make the trunk and branches. Different colored cupcake liners can be used by students to write down an empathetic gesture and place it on the branches as leaves.
9. Read the Jelly Doughnut Difference.
In my opinion, sharing junk food is the best way to share kindness. The book, The Jelly Doughnut Difference, has both. After reading this to students, have them create doughnuts out of construction paper. Label the kind deeds they have done this year as the doughnut filling.
10. Create clouds of kindness.
In this activity, students can draw and cut out cloud shapes from white construction paper. Hang the clouds in the classroom. Add colorful strips of paper as you catch students doing nice things for others. At the end of the year, hold a Sunshine Party for chasing the clouds away with kindness.
11. Display kindness rocks.
A painted rock garden is a fantastic way to document all of the wonderful gestures of generosity that have been expressed throughout the year. Craft rocks can be painted with bright colors. As people in the class commit acts of kindness, students can write down their actions with Sharpies on the rocks. Display them on the playground or in a school garden.
12. Make kindness POP!
This is a wonderful kindness culmination activity. The teacher can write down all of the amazingly thoughtful things that students have accomplished throughout the year. In May, write these behaviors on tiny pieces of paper and put into balloons. Pop a balloon each day to reveal the students and their gracious gestures.
13. Fill a bucket with kindness.
You can easily recreate this year-long activity with red solo cups and pipe cleaners for the handles. Students can read the story Have You Filled a Bucket Today? at the beginning of the year. Students can place tokens in individual buckets when others express positivity or friendliness towards them. When students collect a certain amount of tokens, they can turn them in for prizes!
14. Light up the room with kindness.
This is a great way to celebrate and reinforce goodwill and thoughtfulness during the holiday season. Make a holiday light pattern on construction paper with lines for students to write in their deeds. Display around the room or on a bulletin board.
15. Have a 100th-day kindness celebration.
Elementary teachers often celebrate the 100th Day of School in some way. Keeping track along the way of courteous acts each day would make the 100th Day even more special and unique. This could be as simple as writing them down on a sticky note each day of the school year until teachers have collected 100 days of notes. Assemble the notes into a kindness book or display.
When we encourage our students to carry out warm-hearted acts, we provide them with invaluable opportunities to live out positivity and grow as people. Students will develop an innate desire to spread thoughtfulness and positivity when they see how powerful the results can be.