Making the transition to 5th Grade three years ago was a little challenging. After teaching Kindergarten for six years, I quickly came to realize that in 5th grade teaching kindness is just as important as any other content area. Teaching empathy and kindness in my classroom does not mean lectures, or essays or laying down the law. I model kindness by how I treat my students, resolve conflict, and respond to world events.
One of the most impactful ways I bring this to life is the Kind Kids Club. What is it and how can you create one in your own classroom? Here are some ideas!
How to create your own Kind Kids Club…
Use Books to Get Started: at the start of each new school year, I use books to spark discussions about compassion, respect, sharing, and kindness. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and J. Alison James, and Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully by Audrey Penn are all great ones to try out. Each day, I read a different book and, at end of the week, we read How Full is your Bucket. We discuss ways to fill the “buckets” of others, and how we can also fill our own buckets at the same time.
Kick Off the Club: to start the Club, I put a “Wanted Poster” on the wall for when the students come back from recess, looking for the newest members. It gets my kids really excited and they all want to take part! In order to become a member, they have to fill out an application, and write a response to an essay prompt about ways they can spread kindness.
Come Up with Roles: to keep everyone engaged, students can apply to be “Kind Kids Club Managers.” It really brings out the best in my students! Once they’re chosen, the Managers call up each student who has applied to be a member of the Club and they make the Kind Kids Club Pledge. At the end of the year, each member of the Club gets a certificate.
Use Random Acts of Kindness: each week our Club Managers come up with ideas for our our weekly “Random Act of Kindness” challenge, which we then post on a class bulletin board along with kindness quotes, projects, and more. The ideas they come up with are amazing! Things like cleaning up trash to help the custodian, baking cookies for the principal and/or office staff, making get well cards for children in hospitals, and more. We’ve even completed larger service projects like creating and shipping care packages for our soldiers, collecting toiletries for the homeless, or performing a skit for seniors in a local convalescent home. For each act of kindness, the students drop Kindness coins in a bucket and once we reach a certain level, we’ll have a Kind Kids Club party.
Bring the Kindness Home: many times our acts of kindness take place at home (like helping Mom or Dad with the dishes). ClassDojo really comes in handy here, since the students are able to post pictures of themselves being kind and helpful at home. I also post pictures of the activities of our club for parents and families to see. Our parents love the Kind Kids Club and…the students?…well they ‘light up!’ with excitement each time we complete an Act of Kindness!
There are infinite ideas on how to implement kindness in your classroom! I encourage teachers to incorporate ideas that best fit the grade level they teach. With so much negativity in the world today, it seems more important than ever to encourage kids to understand and be kind to other people. Through the Kind Kids Club, I have learned to work with my students, drawing from their innate character qualities and ideas. The Kind Kids Club has helped kindness become a part of every lesson, every day. Will you make a Kind Kids Club for your room? I’d love to know! 🙂