By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano
Here are some suggestions on how to celebrate friendship and kindness as a class all month long.
1. Catch kids being kind!
As a teacher, it’s sometimes difficult to “catch” students doing something positive because we’re so focused on making sure everyone’s on task. So, during the month of February (or all year if you can), make it a point to actively look for kids being kind to one another: opening the door, picking up a dropped pencil for someone, inviting a child to join their group, or helping another student with homework. Give these students a “shout-out” at the end of the day to let them know their kindness didn’t go unnoticed. Also, be sure to send a little note home so they can share it with their family.
2. Make your own conversation hearts
Write some fun messages on paper hearts with each message appearing on three or four hearts. On the back of the hearts, write a question or topic that deals with friendship and kindness. Give each student one heart and then tell them to find the other students with the same message. There should be three or four in a group. Students can then read the question or topic on the back of the paper hearts and have a real heart-to-heart conversation!
3. Send secret valentines
This is a good activity to help students get out of their comfort zones and learn that we can be kind to others even if we aren’t officially friends with them. First, talk about how we can positively impact another person’s day with just a single compliment. Next, randomly assign students to a “secret valentine” in the class. Students will then write a positive comment about their valentine on a card. (You can talk to the class about what types of compliments are appropriate beforehand.) Next, collect the cards and deliver them to the correct student. Everyone reads their card and tries to guess the identity of their secret valentine!
4. Read a book about friendship
Books are both mirrors and windows. We can see ourselves in them, but we also get the chance to see the world through the “window” of someone else’s experience. You can find countless picture books about friendship and kindness, but there are just as many middle grades and young adult books, too. Some great ones include Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs, Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson, Just Jaime by Terri Libenson, and Lety Out Loud by Angela Cervantes. You can read the book as a class and have students discuss how the story is a “mirror” or a “window” for them personally. Additionally, have students pick out specific parts of the book where we can learn something about friendship and kindness.