I am a such a big believer in the importance of teaching kids to be kind. As I always say to my kids at the end of the year: if you leave my class with nothing else, I want you to leave with KIND HEARTS. For me, teaching students to be kind little humans is the most important part of my job, and one of life's most important lessons that anyone can learn.
We are all guilty of being selfish or getting caught up in our own lives, and kids are no different. Kindness is something that needs to be practised - but the smallest act of kindness can have a domino effect. We want to help our children to make kindness a part of their daily routines from an early age.
Here is a comprehensive list of kindness activities, favorite kindness crafts and free printable worksheets which you will help to create a culture of kindness in your classroom. Use these activities for Random Acts of Kindness Day, World Kindness Day, International Kindness Week or for kindness lessons throughout the year to promote kind acts amongst your students.
1. KINDNESS CHAIN
These free compliment chains are super fun kindness craft and the kids love them! The kids write their names coloured strips of construction paper.
Their classmates then rotate around the room and write compliments or positive messages on the coloured strips of paper.
The kids can turn their compliment strips into a paper chain to display at school or take home to share with their family members.
This fun activity is also a wonderful way to build fine motor skills at the same time!
2. BUCKET FILLERS
Bucket Filler displays are one of the best ways to help young kids to encourage one another with kind words and build interpersonal skills. I've used bucket fillers with both older students and younger children - they are a really fun way to encourage children to say kind things to one another.
We start by reading ‘Have You Filled A Bucket Today?’ and discuss how we can either be ‘bucket fillers’ or ‘bucket dippers’. This picture book is such a valuable resource for illustrating the concept of kindness to young children.
When we fill someone else’s invisible bucket (through kind deeds and kind gestures such as being inclusive etc) we end up filling our own bucket too, but when we dip into someone else’s bucket (with unkind words, ignoring or hurting people etc) we dip from our own bucket too.
We talk about how we want to be a class of bucket fillers! The colourful buckets are a visual reminder of this. The kids write kind notes (e.g ‘you are very funny’ or ‘I loved your artwork’) on little slips of paper and fill each other’s buckets. Over the years I've used lots of different things to make the 'buckets'- paper cups, party hats, or other similar items from my local $2 shop.
The buckets are a tangible way that the kids can be filling each other’s buckets. Sometimes we write bucket fillers as a whole class activity (which helps me to make sure that all the kids have some notes in their buckets) but I also encourage my students to fill out a bucket filler whenever they find a reason.
One of my favourite notes: sanx for beyen my frend. Translation: thanks for being my friend!
The kids love opening their bucket filler notes every few weeks and reading all of the compliments and encouragements from their classmates. It is always so beautiful to watch them read their kindness notes to one another!
There are also lots of follow up activities that we do to consolidate the idea of being bucket fillers vs bucket dippers - brainstorming important character traits of kind kids, playing kindness games and other such activities.
3. WRINKLED HEARTS ACTIVITY
This kindness activity is a really powerful activity for demonstrating the impact of our actions on other people’s hearts.
With my class, we brainstorm all the ways that we can hurt people through our actions and words. With each new idea we scrunch our hearts a little bit more.
Then we flip it and brainstorm all the ways we can make people feel better.
With each idea we un-scrunch the hearts a little more. When we’ve restored our hearts as much as we could, we discuss that while they are definitely better than they were, it is hard to completely get rid of the wrinkles. Such a powerful and simple way to demonstrate the lasting power that words and actions can have on other people’s hearts.
4. KINDNESS MENU
A few years ago, I created this kindness menu to help my class think more actively about how they could go out of their way to be kind each day.
I chatted to my kids about how much I value kindness and how, like anything, we need to practise kindness so that it just becomes an ingrained part of our day. We brainstormed the ideas for the kindness menu together, so the kids really felt a sense of ownership over it and had a really practical sense of how they can make another person’s day that little bit better. We ended up with a menu full of simple acts of kindness and random acts of kindness ideas.
I hung some whiteboard markers up alongside our display so that the kids could tick off every time they’d done something kind throughout the day. I put the display in the hallway, as all classes across our school walk past our door. I hoped it might inspire kids all over the school to also get involved or to think about how they could do something kind for someone else. And sure enough it did! Before long, there was no room for any more ticks!
This resource has been updated and expanded since then- you can download it here for FREE.
5. FIND WAYS TO GIVE BACK
It's so important to encourage kids to think outside of themselves and their immediate spheres, and to find ways to give back. There are many ways that you can do this with your class or as a school. One year, instead of doing a ‘Secret Santa’ gift at the end of the year, the kids brought in a few dollars and we donated to a charity that we chose together. This was the perfect way to show students that small changes can make a big difference in the lives of those around us.
Letters are another way that older kids can connect with other kids- here is an example of a beautiful letter that a Year 6 student wrote to another kid who had been forced to flee their country and come to Australia as a refugee. These letters from students were sent along with new school supplies packs that my whole school community had put together. To accompany each care package with a letter from these older children was one of the most beautiful things to see.
At my last school, I also had the privilege of organising an annual collection grocery bags for asylum seekers. Each year the kids and their families donated hundreds of bags to families who have nothing. This was an easy way for children to be a positive change in the wider world around them, and such an important part of their social-emotional learning journey.
One little 7 year old boy used my classroom mat to sum up why everyone should bring in a bag of groceries: “We all own one whole mat- some of us even have more than one whole mat. But the people we’re helping don’t even have one square! If we bring in a bag of groceries, to us it’s just one square and we still have all of the other squares. But to others it can mean so much”. What a beautiful way to summarise how the smallest of actions can have such a big impact.
6. COMMUNAL KINDNESS DISPLAYS
Communal kindness displays are a great way to brighten up your bulletin board or school community during kindness month, or at any stage of the year. They are a great opportunity to reinforce the social emotional learning that is happening throughout kindness lessons, and can inspire kids of all ages to carry out a random act of kindness as they go about their day. Here are some of the best kindness activities which can be turned into a kindness poster or kindness display! They are all free templates which can be found at Mrs Learning Bee.
These free kindness dominoes are a beautiful way of illustrating the domino effect that can result from a simple act of kindness.
Kids can draw acts of kindness on the domino templates. There are also three poster templates included- I recommend printing on 'poster' settings with your printer, so that you can print across two A4 or A3 pages to enlarge.
Sprinkle Kindness Everywhere
Create ready made displays or add acts of kindness as sprinkles to the ice-creams. I print the ice-creams on A3 paper to create a larger display.
Jump on board the Kindness Train with this super cute kindness display! Print enough train carriages for every student in your class, and source some sticky notes. The train carriages are sized to fit a standard post-it note, and are available in colour or black/white. Stick a post it note onto each carriage and write each student's name. Then get a different student to take a post-it note and write a kind message to their class mate, before sticking back onto the kindness train. At the end of the day/week, students can take their sticky notes home and you can repeat the activity as many times as you like.
Be a Rainbow in Someone Else's Cloud
This is a super cute little kindness craft. Concertina the rainbow strips together to create your own rainbow, then write or draw some acts of kindness in the clouds. This free download also includes 2 posters for "Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud".
Scatter kindness like seeds! This free resource includes posters and seed templates to create your own kindness display! Students draw kind actions or good deeds on the seeds.
Be the I in Kind Display
This free resource is a perfect collaborative kindness display for any special kindness events throughout the year. It promotes an important message and encourage positive behaviours throughout the school.
Instructions are included for printing an over-sized display which students will have so much fun interacting with.
Alternatively, if you're low on time, you'll love the free digital version that you can display on your classroom screen.
Create your own class Kindness Quilt, based on the book The Kindness Quilt. Students draw or write acts of kindness to create a patchwork quilt display. You could also use this free download as an acts of kindness challenge- use the quilt as an anchor chart that inspires children to find different ways to show kindness within your classroom community.
7. KINDNESS NINJAS
The best acts of kindness are done when no-one is looking. Encourage kids to complete 'ninja' acts of kindness! This free resource includes lots of kindness scenario cards and fun ideas for showing random acts of kindness. Students pick out one of the kindness cards and find a way to do nice things for one another.
The goal is to be kindness ninjas and not be noticed. This reinforces the concept to young students that we shouldn't perform acts of kindness for recognition or thanks.
8. KINDNESS CAMPAIGN POSTERS
This is a beautiful FREE activity from Rainbow Sky Creations. Last year I put these tear off flyers around the school on World Kindness Day. By recess, all of the fun kindness activities had been torn off and I had kids come and ask me to put some more up! At the end of the day, even some of the teachers took these posters home and put them up around their apartment blocks or neighbourhoods!
9. KINDNESS RECIPES
This is one of my favourite kindness ideas which can be linked in with your literacy and writing lessons. We create a kindness recipe as a whole class first. We brainstorm positive behavior, character traits and ways to be a good friend, and create a bank of 'ingredients' for students to choose from. Students then write the directions for the kindness recipe - linking perfectly with procedural texts!
10. READ KINDNESS BOOKS and SING KINDNESS SONGS
There are lots of beautiful kindness books and kindness songs which can be incorporated into kindness lesson plans.
Check out my blogpost here for a list of kindness songs and my favourite books for teaching kindness.
BONUS KINDNESS ACTIVITY IDEAS
- Create a kindness jar - every time you spot a random act of kindness in your classroom, add it to the jar.
- Kindness Tree
- Create a Kindness Calendar for Random Acts of Kindness Week
- Kindness Journal - regularly provide your students with opportunities to journal about the times where they have been kind to others.
- Create compliment cards
- Create a kindness flower - a simple craft where children can draw a different kind action on each of the flower petals.
- Create Kindness posters to display around the school - you might like to include some catchy phrases for students to include e.g. Kindness Rocks, Kindness Matters, Kind people are my type of people,
- Create an Appreciation Station or Appreciation Box - this is also a lovely kindness activity for school staff. Every time you appreciate a staff member, record it on your communal appreciation station.
- Check out my World Kindness Day Activity Pack, which is full of writing templates, printable coloring pages, quotes, kindness posters, kindness activities, kindness message templates and kindness tokens.
If you'd like a sampler, check out my free kindness worksheets for World Kindness Day which include printable kindness colouring pages and kindness tokens with positive affirmations - 'spotted being kind' and 'it's cool to be kind'.
There are a lot of kindness quotes out there. One of my favourites is from Aesop’s Fable: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”.
It doesn’t matter how big or small an act of kindness is, it’s never a waste of time. In the same way, no activity that promotes kindness in your elementary classroom is ever a waste of time! We are all so busy and it’s so hard to cram everything in. But I encourage you all to prioritise some kindness activities and kindness fun in your classrooms. I promise that it’s always, always worth it!Kindness Section of the Freebee Library!