Guest Blog by Michelle | Lakeshore Blog Ambassador from Apples & ABC’s
Parents and teachers love to focus on reading, writing and math, but it’s just as important to teach social skills! Here are my favorite ways to bring kindness into the classroom.
1: Start the year with kindness.
To set the tone for the year, I like to teach kindness, friendship and inclusion as early as possible. This year, I started by talking about how we should treat each other in the classroom. Then we discussed feelings. I used Lakeshore’s Moods & Emotions Mirrors to provide examples of different emotions.Read More →
The children shared what makes them experience the feelings on the mirrors—proud, angry, happy, shy, sad and scared. Then my students flipped the mirrors over and practiced expressing these emotions!
All the kids said they feel sad when their friends are mean to them. This was my chance to discuss ways to make our friends happy instead of sad!
We talked about ways we can spread happiness and make everyone feel like part of our big classroom family!
2: Read about kindness.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is one of my favorite ways to spark discussions on friendship and kindness. In the book, a little fish learns that sharing his beautiful, shiny scales with others makes him happy.
I love the big book version because its giant size lets the whole class easily see the pictures. I invite kids to come up and point to the text, and we do fun activities, such as picking out sight-words.
As I read, I pause to check for understanding…and to discuss how the pretty fish feels after sharing his sparkly scales. Then I ask the kids to talk about how they feel when they share. I also like to remind them how wonderful it is to spread kindness and make friends at school.
3: Play interactive games.
Encourage your class to practice sharing with an interactive game, such as the Lakeshore Magnetic Fishing Set. We played during small-group time so I could show students how I wanted them to work together.
We sat in a circle, and each student got a turn to fish. We practiced counting the fish (including the total we had in the end) and naming the colors with each catch.
As we played, we talked about sharing and waiting patiently. We even cheered for our friends while waiting our turn.
I loved seeing my students take pride in rooting for each other!
4: Create task cards.
Kindness task cards are a great way to help older students learn social-emotional skills. I created these cards after witnessing some not-so-kind behavior in my class last year. The cards feature 16 different scenarios that actually happened in my class…and that I wish I could go back and change.
To play, students draw a card, read the scenario and then respond with an idea for showing kindness. The cards also come with editable slides so students can invent their own scenarios. This is a great circle-time activity. I like to use colored containers to keep the cards organized and easy to put away.
5: Work kindness into your decor.
I love to hang kindness quotes around the room—it’s one of my favorite ways to set an expectation for positive behavior. I use quotes as bulletin-board titles and as accents to fill space on the wall.
Quotes are great reminders that we are one giant family and need to support and respect each other.
Academic success is very important, but so is treating others with respect and kindness. We want our classroom to be a safe place where we “stick together,” build each other up and can be ourselves.