Want to organize a kindness week but not sure how? I love running kindness week and this will be my 4th year running one at the elementary school (Prek-4). It’s usually scheduled for early January, after we return from winter break. I choose this time because it flows with reviewing rules and procedures, and gives everyone a friendly reminder to be kind to each other. Winter tends to keep us more cooped up inside as well, and sometimes I think that affects attitudes and choices with peers.
So, what does a kindness week consist of? Right now ours includes a theme with spirit days, kindness lessons in all classrooms, and daily challenges on the announcements. 4th grade also helps me decorate the school with posters the Friday before. In the future, I would love to add a drawing of some sort and an item to commemorate the week for each student like a pencil, pin, bracelet, etc. Another idea would be to get the middle school involved (5th-8th). I’ve thought of having them make cards for 4th grade or write on their desks (helping them feel more welcome when they transition in the fall).
Kindness Week Lesson Plans (Prek-4th)
Early Childhood: For early childhood, our lesson is shorter. We start with the video Sesame Street: Try a Little Kindness on YouTube. After the video, we discuss what would be and would not be kind with a sorting activity.
Kindergarten: In kindergarten, we learn more about what it means to be kind. This lesson is also shorter than the other grades, so we read Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and discuss it throughout. I end the lesson by asking for ideas of how to be kind in class, at school, at lunch, at home, etc.
First Grade: For first grade we read The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill. This book is about a girl named Jean who is mean and bossy to everyone. When a new student comes, she challenges Jean, and offers to play with her. That act of kindness changes everything. After we discuss the book, we color and decorate crowns that say Kindness Queen and Kindness King.
Second Grade: My lessons for second grade and up are more interactive. For second grade, I place kindness challenges on their desks before reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. After, they open their challenges and have to complete them before our next lesson. If most completed them, then the class earns a reward like free time or extra recess!
Third Grade: In third grade we read The Jelly Donut Difference by Maria Dismondy. I also pick up jelly munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts and pass them out at the end while we discuss the book. Always a hit!
Fourth Grade: For fourth grade, we watch Color Your World With Kindness from The Ned Show and discuss. After the video, I explain they will be making a kindness chain with their class. If there’s time, we complete a reflection activity by visiting each of the posters around the school. For the chain, I leave strips of paper in their classroom for them to fill out when they have completed an act of kindness. The slips are made into a chain in the hallway, turning it into a competition among the other 4th grade classes! I also make sure to explain what would count and what wouldn’t count as an act of kindness – it has to be genuine.
Themes and Spirit Days
Each year I try to come up with different themes but always easy and inclusive. If you have a club or council at school, this would be the perfect thing to delegate! I also try to title them differently, but there are 3 themes I stick with every year: wearing yellow to represent kindness, wearing pajamas (who doesn’t like this one), and wearing school colors or spirit wear. After the daily kindness challenge is read on the announcements, (smile at 5 people, hold a door open, etc.), a reminder is given for the next day’s theme. Check out the other themes below:
I hope this helped you feel more prepared to organize a kindness week for your school! You might also find these helpful:
My Go-To Books For Teaching Kindness (Coming January 15th 2022)