Here in Michigan, it is going to be a lovely day. The sun is shining and it will hover around 70 degrees. Halloween decorations are popping up in every neighborhood, and it feels like the perfect day for something nice.
What is today?
Today is “National Do Something Nice Day”.
It doesn’t need to be something big, and honestly if you miss the day itself, there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate with your students another day. Its a powerful concept.
Here are some suggestions for making it meaningful for your students:
5. Do a quote study of one or all of these quotes:
“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” -Henry James
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart
“How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!” -George Elliston
“One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.” -Sophocles
“He that has done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” -Benjamin Franklin
Students can draw pictures, tell a story, make lists, or build with Lego bricks or play-doh to express the meaning of the quote to them. Include detail about the author, their life, and how they made a difference. Conclude with students making a card for someone else.
4. Have students plan a meal or treat for the helpers in the school: lunch workers, recess moms, crossing guards, janitors, etc. Make sure they take an active roll in the planning. Who is bringing what? How will we remind each other? Who is making cards? When are we delivering the treat?
Depending on the age of your students, you can also work in a conversation about the status of different jobs and how all honest work is not perceived the same. How essential is it to have people performing less glamorous functions, often completely unnoticed, in order for things to run smoothly? Where do we see that in our world today?
3. Bring in a treat for your students and tell them that you appreciate them.
Make it meaningful by writing down something positive you have noticed about them.
2. Organize a donation drive- clothes, toys, etc, and make talk to your students about how donations to second-hand stores work.
How does it benefit people? How does money get distributed in our world? Who gets left behind and how can we help each other?
1. Task students to watch for opportunities to do small, meaningful nice things throughout the course of the day, after watching this video together.
Spend just a few minutes at the end of the day, or the following day, recapping what your students noticed as they went about their day.
There is certainly a lot of opportunity here to talk about things that we generally do not notice: the work that others do to support us, the amount of control we really do have over gratitude during the day, the small ways that we can help each other and the impact that that has, etc.
It is endlessly transferable to other subjects as well. Even in math you can talk about how equations are all about balance, or how math is the language that explains the universe and yet love is what makes humans different and special. There are endless literature and history connections.
This is one of those National Observance Days that is really just that- observance.
Here are some read-aloud books (for any age) that also help build the idea of kindness in just a few minutes of your teaching day:
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth:
“What It’s About: This book is about a boy named Nikolai who wants to be a good person, but is not always sure how. He wants to discover the answer to the three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? His three animal friends help him answer these questions, but they all have slightly different approaches. He eventually learns that the right time is now, the important one is the one you are with, and the right thing to do is good.”
Those Shoes by Marybeth Boelts:
“What It’s About: In this book, we see a young boy dreaming about getting a pair of really cool shoes. Unfortunately, his family does not have the money for this dream to become a reality. He eventually finds the shoes in a thrift shop in near perfect condition and buys them even though they are too tight. Another kid in his class can’t afford new shoes either, and his feet would fit in the cool shoes when the narrator’s would not. So, the narrator decides to give his shoes away.”
The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena:
“What It’s About: This 2016 winner of the Newbery Medal follows a young boy, CJ, and his grandmother on their way home one day. CJ spends most of the journey asking “How come…?” questions about everyone and everything. His grandmother answers each question with patience and eventually they leave the bus to volunteer at a soup kitchen. CJ is asking seemingly simple questions throughout the book, but his grandmother’s responses always elicit empathy toward the other characters throughout the book. It serves as a reminder that everyone we encounter has skills and a story, but we must be kind and open-hearted in order to hear it.”
In what ways do you teach your students about empathy, kindness? Which books or resources do you like to use to do so?