In my search for a book to use for this year's beginning of the year theme and introductory lesson, I found this fantastic book! Each Kindness -- Authored by: Jacqueline Woodson and Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis. It is a beautifully written story about bullying/exclusion, missed opportunities to be kind to others, the power of kindness, and the far reaching effects of kindness.
I've been pondering for weeks how I would use this book in a lesson K-5 in ol' Fuller fashion...a book and some sort of fun and memorable activity. In the book, the teacher uses a bowl of water and a rock to symbolize the far reaching "ripple" effects that one act of kindness can have. I sketched and I wrote down ideas -- how could I use this analogy in an activity that would leave a lasting impression? How could I visually make a lasting impression? I saw a picture on Pinterest with a rock and YOU written on it (no blog/website attached). So after seeing that, my mind was focused in a bit more.
Here it is folks, my big idea: YOU ROCK KINDNESS!!!
Here is what I did and will do to make this lesson a great one!
1. Get your hands on this great book: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
2. Buy some polished river rocks. I purchased mine at A.C. Moore with a coupon and the educator's discount. But if this isn't an option for you, click here to see some river rocks at Amazon.com.
4. Using a damp paper towel, wipe off each of the polished river rocks and set to dry off.
5. Using your paint marker, write the word YOU on each rock, but leaving one without the word YOU on it. Set out to dry. I did this on a rainy day and it took forever to dry. So, I left them out over night and the next morning they were dry. I would suggest doing this no matter the conditions. This is what they will look like.
6. Store in some sort of sturdy container that will be easy to carry - will weigh a few pounds.
7. Then I created this nifty graphic using Word and some fun Freebie fonts from Kevin and Amanda (Miserably Lose) and Kimberly Geshwein (KG Ten Thousand Reasons). To make it a JPEG, you group all the rock and the words. Then you right click when hoovering over the graphic and choose copy. Open up Microsoft paint and in the upper left hand corner click on paste. Your YOU ROCK KINDNESS graphic will show up. Then, choose Save As, JPEG, and where you would like to store the picture.
8. After making this graphic a JPEG, I then printed out a copy that is the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. In paint, choose Print, Page Set-Up. Under Scaling, choose the % you would like to scale the picture to (it will show you how big it is in comparison to a sheet of paper. Print.
9. Next, I made two sheets of these adorable graphics. One sheet with larger graphics and the other sheet with smaller graphics. The little "buttons" will be printed and cut out to give to students. The larger "buttons" can also be printed out to give to students, but I had staff people on my mind for them. I will be taking these to a local printer who will print out these colored sheets for next to nothing. More about these later, but in the meantime, you can download these sheets for FREE (for a limited time) by clicking here!
10. Finally, find a large bowl - one large enough to hold plenty of water for the demonstration (as was done in the book).
- Gather the students close to you. Read the book to the students. Take your time to discuss the various forms of bullying in the story, the feelings of both the victim and the students bullying, and the feelings of the student who is now feeling guilt. Be sure to discuss throughout, what could have been done differently to include Maya and the feelings that would have come next.
- Tell the students that we are going to practice our "Kindness Ripples." Go to a table or desk and gather students around you for the demonstration. Get out your bowl, fill it with water, and take out the one rock you left unpainted with the word YOU.
- Ask students, "Who does this rock represent?" Guide the discussion to get to the word "YOU" (meaning themselves) or "ME" (meaning themselves).
- Ask the students, "What behavior does this rock represent?" Guide the discussion to brainstorm a number of ways we can be kind to each other. Try to elicit more then the surface kind acts such as telling someone you like their shoes. Get them to think about the really meaningful acts of kindness they could carry out.
- Ask the students, "What does this water represent?" Guide the discussion to elicit responses that have to do with the world around us, the people around us, our peers, our family members, our teachers and other adults; our home, our neighborhood, our community, our classroom, our school, our sports teams, our clubs, etc.
- State, "So, when YOU (hold up the rock) behave in kind ways (give the simple example of smiling at another person or saying good morning) towards one person, ripples or waves of kindness will reach many, many people."
- Ask the students, "What do I mean by ripples or waves of kindness will reach many, many people?" Guide the students to discuss how kindness spreads. Using the smile example or saying good morning example, discuss how that simple single act of kindness will spread. Guide students to brainstorm: then that person who received the smile, might smile to someone else, and on and on. Or that person who received the good morning, may smile and say, "good morning" to someone else, and on and on.
- Now, demonstrate. Review. "Remember, the rock is YOU and the water is someone you see. You can smile at this person (drop the rock in the water) and the ripples of your kindness will reach who knows how many people (watch the ripples)." Repeat.
- Have a few students give some examples of acts of kindness they could do and let them drop the rock into the water. Discuss their kindness ripples ...what might others experience due to their act of kindness?
- Leave the bowl of water and gather the students where you read the story.
- Tell them that this year, our theme is going to be "YOU (students/staff) ROCK KINDNESS." You may have to explain the play on words.
- Show the students a rock with YOU written on it and give some examples of they can "ROCK KINDNESS."
- Explain: "I am leaving one of these "YOU ROCK KINDNESS" rocks in your classroom with your teacher. I am also leaving some of these "YOU ROCK KINDNESS" buttons in your classroom with your teacher. Acts of kindness will be recognized by your teacher and by your classmates. Maybe during a class meeting, you will have the opportunity to discuss some acts of kindness that happened during the week and what kindness ripples happened from that act of kindness. Maybe your class will vote on the person who they feel deserves to be recognized for that act of kindness. Maybe your teacher will spot a act of kindness that is worthy of bringing attention to. If one of these things happen, the person who is recognized for his/her act of kindness will get to set this YOU ROCK on his/her desk for the day and will get a YOU ROCK KINDNESS button to take home or collect."
- Explain: "Here's the thing about ROCKING KINDNESS, you do it just because it is the right thing to do. So, if you do something that is kind to another person, you aren't going to be asking or lobbying for the YOU ROCK. Many, many acts of kindness will be happening without getting recognized by receiving the YOU ROCK. When you are kind, your reward is feeling good about how happy you made someone else feel. But if you are lucky enough to be recognized, you will be thankful and gracious and proud of how many people you affected by your kindness. If you do not receive the YOU ROCK, you will be proud of the student who did receive it and thankful that your classmate has made your classroom a better place for all of you."
Make sure that the classroom teachers hear this explanation and are on board with you. To up the anty, you can tell them to send kids to your office for some extra recognition when receiving the YOU ROCK. Maybe they want to display the names of those who receive the YOU ROCK in a place in the classroom or hallway. Maybe you want to display the names of those students who earn this recognition by your office in the hallway.
I will be making a hallway poster that has the graphic on it. On this poster, I plan to recognize students and staff members!