So much of the back-to-school season is about kindness and classroom community. But during the winter months when the excitement of the new year has worn off and there are a million school events going on, many students need reminders to get back on track. Including kindness activities in your December lesson planning is one thing worth adding to your plate during this busy time of year!
These kindness activities are low-prep but high-impact when you’re needing some fresh ideas to improve the community in your classroom around the December holidays (and really all year long).
“Students Are Gifts” Craftivity
Everyone loves to get a compliment from the teacher, but it’s even more powerful when it’s from your peers!
This feel-good kindness craftivity is a super cute and meaningful way for students to recognize the “gifts” that others bring to the world. It’s perfect to use around the winter holidays and even later in the year for Valentine’s Day.
Bonus, it gives upper elementary students a chance to cut and color (which they really need sometimes!) and it’s perfect for a quick-win writing activity or your sub plans.
There are several different options for sizes and lines/no lines so your students can make it what they need to be. This is also a great buddy project if you’re paired with a younger class!
Random Acts of Kindness
December and January are perfect times to introduce a Random Acts of Kindness challenge with your students! This can be as simple as writing another student a kind note or pushing in someone’s chair.
Tear-away kindness posters are great to put up all around the school for students – or staff – to grab when they need a little pick-me-up. This set has 2 options – one for compliments and one for acts of kindness.
There are so many wonderful picture books with themes of kindness and empathy that it’s hard to pick just a few to include here! These aren’t necessarily winter-themed, but they are sure to become fast favorites! I love these for reading workshop plans or just a nice read-aloud with no strings attached!
I remember the first time I picked up Those Shoes at the library and I knew instantly I needed to buy my own copy. The themes of compassion, empathy, and giving make this a meaningful read-aloud with a conflict that students are sure to relate to.
The Little Red Sleigh
This Christmas-themed book is a heartwarming read-aloud that will work well for a discussion on the themes of friendship, kindness, and adopting a growth mindset.
The Red Bicycle
The Red Bicycle is a touching story that follows a bicycle’s journey as it is passed along from its original owner to more and more people. A great pick to discuss the importance of giving and much more. Boxes for Katje is another great read-aloud along these lines!
Seeds and Trees
Seeds and Trees is told in rhyme and focuses on the power of our words. The metaphor of words as seeds makes it easy for students to visualize the impact that our words and actions can have on others.
Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindness
Wordless picture books can be a really powerful tool during SEL lessons. Zero Local is a great choice that explores the impact the smallest gesture can have in the community.
What Is Given from the Heart
I had to include one more book about giving! What Is Given from the Heart is an incredible story with messages of generosity and community. This is a really timely read-aloud to remind students that gift-giving comes in all shapes and forms.
Last But Not Least
One last thing I want to mention is not for the kids but for you! Just a reminder to be kind to yourself. I know you’ve heard it so many times but I want to say it again. You are appreciated!
It’s easy for December to become centered around the presents and the wanting and the things. That means it’s a perfect time of year to focus on kindness, empathy, and giving in the classroom. I hope you try some of these kindness activities with your 3rd and 4th graders!