Sometimes we get caught up in everyday life stresses that we forget how we act towards others. Not only does this happen to us, but it is most likely happening to our students as well.
Even though as educators we have seen some crazy things, it still hits us a little bit when we see our students being unkind towards one another. There are a few simple activities that we can do to engage our teens in interactive projects and conversations about acts of kindness. This can help our teens to understand the importance of and how to demonstrate acts of kindness.
Our students sometimes need a push in the right direction to become kinder to one another. These activities will do just that!
Below are several ideas on how you can engage students to perform acts of kindness:
- Discuss the acts of kindness students have done in the past – Sometimes our students can forget that they can actually do nice things. A great way to engage teens is to ask them to, “Name acts of kindness that they have done for others.” This helps them to start thinking about past incidents and to begin to feel good about themselves. We want them to realize that kindness does need not take a lot of effort and is something that they can easily continue to do in the future. I created this to use with my students in order to explore their past acts of kindness – Acts of Kindness Activities.
- Brainstorm ideas for acts of kindness – There tends to be a belief for some of our students that helping the elderly to cross the street, carrying groceries, or donating money to the homeless are the only ways to demonstrate kindness. Although these are great ways to demonstrate kindness, they are not the only ways.
Divide students into small groups and have them brainstorm ideas on how they can demonstrate acts of kindness. Here are 60 Free Ways for Teens and Young Adults to Show Intentional Acts of Kindness. These are great ideas that you can share to help guide them with this activity. You can also make this activity into a fun challenge!
- Write thank-you notes – Have students write paper thank you notes to express their appreciation for others. It is always fun to get snail mail! Your next thought might be, “Well some students don’t know how to address an envelope, let alone write a note.” This is often an issue with my students, so I created a full lesson plan for students to learn how to write thank you notes, address a letter, and demonstrate acts of kindness.
- Have a school-wide, class, or individual challenge – This is fantastic to get students engaged and excited to demonstrate acts of kindness! I love school-wide challenges, it gives the students a great sense of pride and helps build skills such as leadership and collaboration. I had a lot of fun involving students in the challenge: creating bulletin boards, creating fun notes, and celebrating their acts of kindness. To make it easy for staff, I created the school and class-wide challenge in order to get students involved in demonstrating acts of kindness. It even includes letters for staff and easy to follow activities.
This is always one of my favorite times of the year to get teens involved in school-wide activities and see how creative they can be. It is great to see an overall change in school and organizational climate from the kind actions done by the teens. It’s great to see how much energy they put into the kindness activities. I also love to read the comments that they make on the Expressions of Kindness hearts activity. One of my all-time favorites was one when a student wrote on the Kindness Heart,” I will not act up in Mr. X’s class today”, as their best example of an act of kindness. Sometimes I just have to be entertained by their humor, and use the lesson for them to understand acts ok kindness. Those were just a few ideas on how to get teens engaged in thinking and demonstrating acts of kindness.
What are the activities or ways you get your teens involved in acts of kindness?
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