Try these six kindness activities for the classroom, including setting goals, random acts of kindness challenge, children’s book ideas, and lesson suggestions.
Kindness Activities to Build a Kind K-2 Classroom
Kindness matters, and it can turn a child’s whole day around. When you have kind children, the day is brighter and more productive. How can we as teachers improve our kids’ behavior and attitudes towards each other and create a pleasant learning environment through teaching kindness?
These six kindness activities for the classroom are easy to implement. I know you and your classroom students are going to love them.
Why Include Kindness Activities?
Kindness activities are just as important as teaching Math, Reading, and other subjects. Kids learn from a multitude of methods on how to behave and how to retain book information. The most important way to teach anything in the classroom is almost always direct instruction.
Unfortunately, some students aren’t seeing kindness in their homes and haven’t been taught by example. So anytime you can take a moment to teach children how to treat others with kindness, you should seize the opportunity. In doing so, you’ll see an improvement in the classroom climate, student behavior, and in your morale.
6 Strategies for Teaching Kindness
1. Brainstorm Kindness Ideas as a Class
Anytime you are introducing a new concept, try to provide a basic understanding of it at the beginning. Some children may not have experience giving or receiving acts of kindness, and you will want them to feel they can quickly meet expectations. They may need you to provide clear examples of what kindness in the classroom looks like. One way is to activate prior knowledge by brainstorming ideas as a class.
Whole Group Brainstorming: Ask an open-ended question such as “What was something kind you saw someone do lately – big or small?” and jot down the responses on the whiteboard or chart paper. Two categories: Big Things and Small Things, so that the children can see that it doesn’t always have to be something big, but that small things count just as much!
Independent Acknowledgement: Pass a notecard out to each child and have them write down something nice done for them lately and how it made them feel. Collect them, and read them aloud for everyone to hear and understand how kindness makes the heart happy.
Bucket filling is a system that encourages students to act independently to fill each other’s invisible buckets by doing kind acts.
2. Random Acts of Kindness
One of the simplest things to encourage students to do is to find opportunities to show each other kindness in random, unexpected ways.
“Complimentary” Notes: Provide sticky notes in a noticeable spot in the classroom for students to take at any time (they’re “complimentary”!). Students can use them to write a compliment or SMILE-a-GRAM to another student and stick it anonymously on someone’s desk when they’re not looking.
Thank-you Notes: Have children think of people who have done something nice for them lately. Let them pick whom they want to say “Thank you.” It could be the lady who serves them lunch at the cafeteria, the bus driver who takes them to school every day, or the older sibling who helped them with their Math homework. Give them an opportunity in class, just a few minutes a week, to write a thank-you note for someone. Encourage students by reminding them that the person they thank will be delighted at the unexpected kindness shown.
3. Acts of Kindness Challenge
Challenge students in the class to meet a goal to do kind things for others regularly. A challenge can motivate and excite kids into completing a task and create a positive habit. In this case, the task would be to recognize when others do something nice for them unexpectedly or to surprise others with random acts of kindness.
Give them goals: You could give them a goal to meet, perhaps 5 acts per week, and a checklist or calendar to help them keep track. When they’ve completed the list or calendar of acts of kindness, they could add a star to a classroom chart or a shape cutout to a classroom bulletin board dedicated to the challenge. The things your kids do randomly for each other might be to sharpen a friend’s dull pencils, take a classmate’s trash for them at lunchtime, or send an anonymous note of encouragement to a peer who needs it.
The Compliment Experiment: Make a point to compliment each child during the day without the other children noticing. At the end of the day, tell the students that you held an experiment all day, that you complimented each child during the day, to see if their attitudes improved throughout the day. Tell them you noticed a change in the classroom atmosphere for the better and that showing kindness could do that. Encourage them to show kindness to others throughout the day themselves and see what a difference THEY can make.
4. Read Books About Kindness
Literature units are a fun way to introduce and expand on topics in a meaningful way. Use a favorite book to teach your students about kindness, such as these. Add them to your list of kindness activities!
The Kindness Quilt: One of my favorite books for K-2 that teaches kindness is The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. In this delightful book, the main character, Minna, is assigned to report on an act of kindness that she does. She can’t decide what to write on, so she ends up making a quilt with many kind acts represented, along with the help of her friends, classmates, and eventually the whole school.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: “This heartwarming book encourages positive behavior by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love by “filling buckets.”
Sharing examples and stories with kids is an excellent way to encourage kindness. Any of these titles would make beautiful additions to your classroom bookshelf!
Check out my list of kindness picture books on Amazon.
5. Kindness Lessons
Lessons about kindness don’t have to take long. A short mini-lesson or discussion during your SEL morning meeting may be all you need. Or, a classroom meeting may be the perfect time to address or introduce what kindness means. If you feel a longer lesson is necessary, here are some ideas for you to check out.
- Inspirational Words: Write this quote from the Dalai Lama on a thinking map: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Ask students what the quote means, and jot down their interpretations and extensions of the meaning. Give students a writing assignment to describe how we can be kind always. Teach them kindness quotes and have them color them in and display in the classroom.
- Literature-based lessons: Use The Kindness Quilt to teach a lesson on working together to promote kindness, and create a classroom kindness quilt of your own. Or, use the book The Cool Bean to teach a lesson about how being cool means being kind.
- Kindness Role Playing: Children need practice being kind, especially if these examples are not evident in their lives. Give them simple scenarios they can act out or play a kindness game using Kindness Cards.
- Make it an occasion worth celebrating: Make a point yearly to celebrate “National Kindness Day” (February 17th). Here is a plan to encourage acts of kindness for kids.
- For more information and resources, check out the educator resources page at randomactsofkindness.org. There are tons of resources there for each child in your room.
6. Positive Reinforcement with Kindness Notes & Rewards
A well-timed word of praise or a cheerful award can be all it takes to reinforce good behavior. Here are several ideas for ways to positively reward acts of kindness in your classroom.
- Try some of these ideas for when you catch your students in the act of showing kindness to their classmates. Praise and kindness go a long way, as do simple things like coupons, a marble jar, certificates, and brag tags. Read more about these creative and cost-effective rewards.
- Give your students something they can give too! These kindness cards are the perfect way for students to announce their pride in themselves for doing good, and to spread the word and motivate others to do the same.
FREE Random Acts of Kindness List of Ideas
Download a free copy of RAOK ideas to promote kindness in your classroom. Print and post your copy as a helpful visual for kids!
Click the image below to sign-up for your free copy!
FREE Kindness Calendar Poster Kit
Encourage students to complete acts all month long with this FREE Kindness Calendar Poster kit.
This kit gives you over a month of ideas ready for you and all the materials to put together a reusable calendar. Create a kindness challenge together!
Click the image below to get a free copy!
Kindness Classroom Resources
Kindness Lessons & Activities Unit for K-2
Are you looking for detailed lesson plans filled with activities and discussion ideas to help you teach kindness? This Kindness SEL curriculum is teacher-tested and includes five detailed lessons filled with hands-on and mindful activities that teach children about kindness, have them complete a kindness challenge with random acts of kindness, and ways to be a bucket filler.
Through various thought-provoking lessons, discussions, community-building ideas, and engaging activities, children will learn…
- What is Kindness? This lesson teaches kids to understand what kindness is and describe what it means to be a kind kid.
- How to Be Kind to Others: This lesson teaches children to describe and demonstrate ways of being kind to others. They will make efforts to show kindness to others each day.
- Generosity & Giving: This lesson teaches children to describe what generosity and giving means and demonstrate ways of being generous.
- To perform acts during a Kindness Challenge: This lesson teaches children to understand what random acts of kindness are and perform as many acts as they can during a kindness challenge.
- Bucket Filler System: This lesson teaches children to understand the bucket filling system and make an effort to be a bucket filler who helps fill other people’s buckets.
Create meaningful learning opportunities with these additional kindness resources!
Kindness Classroom Challenge Pack
Social Emotional Learning Curriculum
Teach children in K-2 essential life lessons when they need it the most with units and activities on emotions, self-regulation, growth mindset, empathy, social awareness, friendship, kindness, respect, and responsibility. Click here to learn more!
Promoting kindness in the classroom is a win-win situation for you and your students, especially with these kindness activities. Everyone will enjoy giving and receiving acts of kindness, and as a teacher, you’ll smile at the uplifting attitudes of your students as they do.
More Activities that Promote Kindness
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Hi, I am interested in the December acts of kindness calendar. How can I get a copy?
Proud to be Primary
Hi Peggy. There is a free kindness calendar you can sign up for on the right sidebar. If you wish to have them for the whole year, they are available in my resource called The Kindness Classroom. It’s available in my teachers pay teachers store!
Hi, I am looking for the head band that has the bucket on it. How do i find it? i would like to purchase it so that my students can do this for themselves?
Proud to be Primary
Hi Nadeen! You can find the bucket filler hat and activities in our Kindness curriculum for K-2. You can find it here: https://shop.proudtobeprimary.com/products/kindness-bucket-filling-social-emotional-learning-character-education