When I started planning my Character Education units, I knew I wanted to start with Kindness. It’s typically pretty easy for students to understand and make real-life connections. Before students are ready to talk about things like self-control and mindfulness, they need to be comfortable talking about their feelings. Kindness is a great place to start your social-emotional curriculum and I’m excited to share some of my favorite ideas with you!
I remember in college, we had to add an “anticipatory set” to each lesson plan. While my lessons look pretty different these days, I still try to add a “hook” into most lessons. When we’re starting a new unit, I always make sure to add a book, song, video or hands-on activities to introduce the concept and grab students’ attentions. I love showing 3-5 minute videos to engage students and start our class discussion.
Most of the videos we watch are on Youtube but you can probably find them on other streaming services. I just suggest opening up the video before turning on your projector in case any ads pop up!
If you don’t have time for a weekly social-emotional lesson, read-alouds are a great way to build comprehension and also discuss important topics like kindness! There are SO many picture books and chapter books with themes like kindness and friendship. These are just a few of my favorites. I’ve listed my Amazon affiliate link so you don’t have to spend time searching.
In my classroom, we do a character education lesson at least once a week. Typically we have a time set aside on Monday for a structured lesson/discussion and then we revisit it each day during morning meeting. We are constantly referencing our lessons during the unit and after! That’s why I love having lots of activities to do throughout the unit!
Depending on your students, you can have them draw or write inside the flaps to describe things that are kind and things that are unkind.
I love integrating literacy into our social-emotional leraning and this quick poem template would make a great bulletin board! Simply have students complete the poem and then publish it on construction paper or type it in Word. They love getting to use fancy fonts and it would also be great to hit the technology standard of copying/pasting.
This page is a great wrap up after a lesson or for morning work. I love seeing students’ interpretations of these important words!
As a whole class, this sort leads to great discussion. For strong readers, you could place it in a pocket chart center after you’ve completed it as a class. For an extra activity, have students make an example for kind an unkind words and add it to the sort on a sticky note.
During your class discussion, I encourage you to make a chart for students to refer back to. You can use a simple sheet of copy paper like this one or make a chart on chart paper!
I love this adorable craft for practicing kind words. Students work on a simple and quick directed-drawing of themselves and then add their kind words to the speech bubbles.
Students can work on this activity after they finish their work for the day or you can set a few minutes aside one day for students to color their world and add their own examples.
I love having students catch each other practicing our character trait and they LOVE filling out these “Kindness Catcher” cards.
I also make sure to include a poem into each of my character education units. They are great practice during shared reading and add extra meaning to a poetry journal.
Finally, I make sure to include parents in our learning! I send home a letter at the beginning of each unit to make sure parents know to continue the conversation at home.