Kindness Campaign Part 2

Celebrate Kindness on Valentine's Day-1

In my last post, I wrote that my plans for Valentine’s Day would center around the “Celebrate Kindness” campaign initiated by youThink. I explained my plans to create a lesson around this and had my students hand out “Kindness Cards” instead of Valentines.

The lesson gave my students a forum to discuss the fact that the cards and gifts exchanged on Valentine’s Day leave a lot of people out. I’ve been thinking about those kids who feel a bit marginalized on Valentine’s Day.

What is really sad is that those who don’t participate in the gift and card exchange are actually the majority of the students – but they don’t know it. This only makes them feel more isolated. Why? The gift exchanging is so high profile, visible and overt that it actually seems like everyone is doing it. You may have noticed the same thing.

Which brings me to the point of this post: It is not too late to initiate a Celebrate Kindness campagin in your classroom. The fact that we often don’t facilitate discussions around the exclusivity of Valentine’s Day makes this week the perfect time for you to kick off this campaign.

Quick “Celebrate Kindness” Lesson Plan

First I had the kids do a few free-writes, one at at time:

  • Write about a time you experienced kindness. (This can be a time that occured any time during your life)
  • Why are some people unkind to others?
  • How would your life be different if you could count on most people being kind to you most of the time?
  • What prevents you from being kind to most people most of the time?
Girlwriting from

Girlwriting from

Then I told them they were about to pick names out of a bag. But, being adolsecents, I had to remind them to not tell anyone whose name they had, and more importantly remind them to not have any visible (or audible) reaction to whose name they picked – given that my student’s favorite expression these days is “Oh, hell no!”. This made them laugh. Kids love to be understood (hard as it can be for us sometimes).

Once the names were drawn, I gave each of them two kindness cards. One was for them to use for this card exchange, and the second was for them to use any way they wanted. They could give it to someone else in class or at school, or they could keep it.

Because this was an exercise in empathy, it was important that each kid receive a card that said something kind. But, many kids don’t know each other well enough to write cards, and, let’s face it, some kids have some bad history that prevents them from being empathetic towards each other. So, I gave them some ideas of what to write if they were stuck:

  • I hope you have a great day and a fun weekend.
  • I don’t know you that well, but I always thought you were cool.
  • I like being in class with you.
  • If you ever need help in ___ (i.e. math), let me know.

The anticipation of writing to someone (and receiving something back) got them so excited, nervous, and energetic that it was hard for them to actually write. But, as they usually do, they came through. They were finally able to stand up, exchange cards, and read what others had written.

These moments were my favorite of the day. Maybe of the whole week. To see their smiles and joy in receiving a card that they knew had to say something nice was precious to watch. I loved seeing so many smiles, so many dimples and so much joy in their eyes. Middle school can be a rough place, but at this moment, it was filled with the sweet kindness.

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