Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s National Day of Service is the perfect time to discuss with my students the importance of helping others. After discussing with my students what Dr. King meant by “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others”, we got busy helping others. At my school, I not only encourage my students to ask their parents to help them participate in our county’s many MLK Day of Service events, but I bring a service project to our school. One year we created poster sized thank you notes for our local firefighters, and I delivered the four posters to the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department station (where they were thrilled to receive them!), another year we made thank you cards for soldiers at Walter Reed VA Hospital and I delivered them to the Wounded Warriors Project in Germantown. This year we made over 200 cards for the organization Cards for Hospitalized Kids. I told the kids that they were making cards for kids just like them, and to create a card that they would like to receive if they were the ones in the hospital. Many of my students went above and beyond to create meaningful, and absolutely beautiful cards, and I share a few of them below:
Invisible Boy by author Trudy Ludwig and illustrator Patrice Barton is a gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.
Be a Friend by written and Illustrated by Salina Yoon, is a heartwarming story of self-acceptance, courage, and unbreakable friendship for anyone who has ever felt “different.” There is also a wonderful song written by Emily Arrow that is a fun addition to the lesson!
Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, and illustrated by Jen Hill is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.
Small Saulwritten and illustrated by Ashley Spires, is a high-seas adventure and a light-hearted celebration of individuality, perseverance and being true to one’s self.
Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B Lewis, is the unforgettable story of bullying, and regret for lost opportunities to show kindness.
The first week of February is National School Counseling Week, and to celebrate, I read books about kindness to others, and then we showed kindness to our school counselor, Debbie Miller, by writing her thank you notes. Students in prekindergarten drew a picture using this thank you note template I created; kindergarten through grade 2 students used a template I found on Teachers Pay Teachers (which I bound into a book each day) and students in grades 3-5 created their own cards. I asked my students to reflect on lessons Counselor Miller had taught the in their classrooms, issues she may have helped them with, or just say thank you for caring about us. My students have great big hearts, and wrote some of the most beautiful letters and cards to her – the reaction I received each day from Debbie was priceless!
Join me and commit to teaching kindness. Check out the awesome teacher resources on the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s website here.
Share in the comments below activities you have done with your students to teach kindness!
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