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Kindness Calendar: How To Teach Empathy In The Classroom

Teach empathy with a Kindness Calendar! Foster compassion and instill values through daily acts of kindness in your classroom.
Teach empathy with a Kindness Calendar! Foster compassion and instill values through daily acts of kindness in your classroom.

Kindness and empathy have no season, but December is a month of giving and kindness. Why not highlight kindness and compassion in your classroom? We have ideas about teaching kindness that you can use in this month and beyond. 

One of the best ways of teaching kindness and compassion is to model it. If kindness and compassion are not named in your classroom expectations, could or should they be added? How do you demonstrate kindness and compassion daily? 

You can also “catch” students being kind or showing compassion. Consider a kindness tree on a bulletin board. You can add a leaf any time you see a student doing something kind. Encourage students to add kindnesses to the tree too!

Teach empathy with a Kindness Calendar! Foster compassion and instill values through daily acts of kindness in your classroom.

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Practice kindness and empathy with meditation

Take a few minutes for loving kindness meditation each morning or after lunch. The standard language of this meditation is “May you feel safe. May you feel happy. May you feel healthy. May you live with ease.” You can modify this with your students to language that makes sense and expresses kindness and empathy. 

The meditation begins with people the child is close to—a parent, grandparent or good friend. Then it can be extended to somebody the child doesn’t know as well. Follow that with a difficult person, and then all people. 

kindness-calendar

Teach empathy in the classroom with books

Books and stories are a great way to explore any theme, including kindness and compassion. Read and discuss books like these:

  • Kindness Week — Use this story as a springboard to encourage students to do one kind deed. 
  • The Kindness Quilt — After you read this story, have students make a paper quilt, with each square depicting a kind act. Or create a class quilt in which each student contributes a square. 
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee — Ask students to think about a kindness somebody has done for them — and what they have done or could do for that person. 
  • Stick and Stone — This book can lead to a discussion of bullying and standing up for friends. Ask students if they relate to either character. 
  • Kindness Tales: World Folktales to Talk About — This is a great way to explore stories from around the world, while also talking about kindness. As you read different stories, you can talk about the theme and also encourage students to compare and contrast the different folktales. 
  • The Invisible Boy — Another great story to inspire acts of kindness to somebody who has been kind to you. Students can write about their experience or have them write a kindness note to somebody else. 
  • Each Kindness — What happens when you aren’t kind? This is a great book to demonstrate the ripple effects of kindness, and to have students reflect on times they were not kind. 
  • Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed — How long would it take to reach 100 people if everyone in the class did one random act of kindness each day? Use this story to launch an acts of kindness calendar

Teach empathy with a Kindness Calendar! Foster compassion and instill values through daily acts of kindness in your classroom.

Create a class kindness calendar 

After reading and talking about kindness, create an Acts of Kindness Calendar. 

For each day, identify a small act of kindness students could do, either at school or at home. For example, they could write a note of appreciation in school and do a chore unasked at home. They could invite somebody who looks lonely to sit with them at lunch or share a toy with a sibling. 

List other acts of kindness with students. Here are some others to get the brainstorm started: 

  • Help make dinner
  • Smile at everyone you see
  • Make a gratitude list (alone or with family) 
  • Give a compliment
  • Clean up a mess (even if you didn’t make it)
  • Make kindness rocks and leave them around your neighborhood
  • Help a neighbor
  • Pick up litter
  • Play with somebody new at recess

There are so many things to do! Consider sharing your kindness calendar with the rest of the school. How many random acts of kindness can each person do? How many can your class do? How many would you do all together … and what ripples would that have?

Teach empathy with a Kindness Calendar! Foster compassion and instill values through daily acts of kindness in your classroom.

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