Bullying can happen in many different ways.
It can include teasing, being hurtful to someone, ignoring them or physically hurting them. It can happen at any place and any time. It can happen in and out of school – these days cyberbullying is a growing problem.
Like you, we’d love to see bully-free schools that are safe, positive learning environments.
Creating bully-free environments has a lot to do with teaching kindness. That’s why we’ve put together a list of lessons and activities that will promote kindness in your classroom.
1. The Kindness Jar
You’ll need: A jar and enough marbles to fill it up.
Place the empty jar on your desk, with the marbles next to it (in a bowl/container). Discuss with your class what kindness is, and brainstorm a list of kind acts. For example, paying someone a compliment, inviting someone to join the group, or tidying up without being asked.
For each act of kindness that happens around the classroom, a marble is placed in the jar. For each act of unkindness, two marbles are taken out (use this to highlight to your students that unkindness does more damage).
When the jar is filled with marbles, the class can enjoy a reward – a movie, free time etc.
2. The Week of Kindness
Make a list of 28 kind things children can do, then as a class, see if you can’t get them all ticked off within the week. (Depending on your class size, that’s just one kind thing each!)
3. The Kindness Quilt
You’ll need: Squares of paper, art supplies.
Students perform an act of kindness (they could choose one from the Week of Kindness list), then draw a picture and write a sentence about what they did (and how they felt). Squares will be joined together to make a class ‘quilt’.
4. The Wrinkle in My Heart
You’ll need: A large paper heart. (A3-sized paper is a good size.)
Discuss with your class how things can happen each day that are good and not-so-good. The not-so-good things can hurt your heart.
Ask the class for examples of things that happen each day that are not-so-good (especially focus on the things that people say or do). With each answer a student gives, put a fold in the heart. They might discuss being teased, being called names, having others tell secrets about them, or being left out of play etc.
Continue until the heart is completely folded. Ask children to describe what has happened to the heart, then ask if there is anything that can be done to fix the heart. With each answer students give, unfold one crease.
After the heart has been unfolded, ask the children if the heart has been fixed. They might notice that it’s fixed, but still wrinkled. Allow them to discuss this. (Even though the heart is repaired, the marks are still there.) Discuss what you might do to prevent saying or doing something that could be hurtful.
This is a great activity for encouraging children to think about the words they speak!
5. The Toothpaste Activity
You’ll need: Tubes of toothpaste (they could be travel-sized for each student, or bigger to share between groups/the class).
This activity has a similar objective to The Wrinkle in My Heart – the aim is to develop the understanding that words are powerful.
Begin by discussing the phrase “sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Ask students if they think that statement is true, and if there’s ever been a time someone has said something that made them feel hurt or sad.
Individually or in groups, get students to squeeze out the contents of a tube of toothpaste. Once it’s empty, get them to try and put it back in. Give them toothpicks or ice block sticks to help them.
Call the class back together and discuss how words are similar: once they’re out of your mouth, you can’t take them back.
6. Catching Kindness
You’ll need: A soft ball.
Have students sit in a circle, or stand behind their desks.
Start out by calling out a student’s name and saying one nice thing about them. Throw the ball to the student and encourage them to do the same.
The rule? They’re not allowed to throw the ball to anyone who has already had something nice said to them.
7. Diary of Invisible Me
You'll need: A copy of Diary of Invisible Me by Rebecca McEwen.
This short chapter book from our CSI Chapters series looks at how one character turns the tables on a bully while also exploring some important concepts around civil and human rights.
Want the lesson plan and graphic organizer for this book? Download it free here.
CSI Chapters is a collection of 25 short, original high-interest chapter books that engage students and offer supports and scaffolds to give them the confidence and skills needed to tackle any text. Find out more.