Building Classroom Community With Kindness

One of the most important components of classroom management is being able to build a sense of classroom community. When your students care about themselves, you and each other, it makes a world of difference in terms of attitude, effort and cooperation! Today I'm sharing some of my best tips for building classroom community by incorporation Kindness into your curriculum!

First up is my Kindness Playlist on youtube. Click the link to find 30+ teacher-approved videos that you can play in class to help teach your students Kindness as well as well as manners, resiliency and honesty! These are great transition activities, or to play during morning meeting!

For example, this episode of "Can You Teach My Alligator Manners?", focuses on the sign language for please and thank you and gives your students the chance to identify scenarios where the alligator is using good manners. The videos in this series are only about 2 minutes long, so they're perfect for Circle Time to introduce different concepts such a taking turns, sharing and being a good sport!

Sesame Street has an Everyday Super Heroes Club with videos, printable badges and more!
You can find the free membership materials here!

One of the things that has really changed my classroom community is instituting this "Saying "I'm Sorry" is the FIRST step" policy. Basically after saying sorry, the child has to ask the person they hurt how they can help them feel better. Sometimes its as simple as giving a hug, sometimes they request that the child not do whatever it was again, sometimes they ask the child to play a new game with them. It empowers the "victim" to decide how they want the other child to make amends! While I never force a child to say "Sorry", when they truly are repentant and want a way to make up with the other child, this works wonders!

Daniel Tiger is a great show for social and emotional skills, and I'll play it during inside recess or if we have lunch in the classroom because so many of the skills are applicable to my kiddos, and give me a quick, singable reminder any time an issue came up - like the one for when a friend doesn't want to play with you, which comes in handy when friends want to branch out and play with other people.

Next up is incorporating Kindness into your literacy block! Here are some of my favorite picture books that teach kindness and other character traits (affiliate links for your convenience) just click on the picture to see it on Amazon. These are great read aloud books that I love to use to teach about being kind and taking responsibility.

Another thing that I use in my classroom are these Kindness & Character Songs & Chants (freebie!) These are also great during your morning meeting or just to start your day with a quick reminder to be kind! Once your students learn them, you'll often hear them singing them during the day - or referring to them during disagreements! Click on the picture to go download them for free!

One of the things that I started last December was a Daily Act of Kindergarten Kindness. It was wonderful! My students were so happy to do sweet things for other classes, our principal and even each other! It truly made a difference in my classroom, and I was disappointed that I had waited until December to start it! Well after that I decided to start our RAKs in September! We start each school year off with a bang by doing a random act of kindness every day! Each of the acts is simple, most don't cost a thing (the few that do are inexpensive!) and require little prep, so they're easy to incorporate into your Back To School lessons! I'm sharing my September 2018 calendar with you all today, so download the calendar for free here: Random Acts of Kindness Calendar for September 2018.

Each morning we talk about our kindness act (RAK) for the day. We discuss what it may look like, how we'll feel and how the recipient might feel. We role play the different interactions, like asking someone new to play at recess, so that my students have the "script" for performing the RAKs - sometimes even the most outgoing and confident students need help opening a conversation! At the end of the day, I take a quick ten minutes to discuss the act of kindness we performed. Students share their individual stories or how they felt about a class act. Then we look at the next day's act so that we can start thinking of ideas for the upcoming RAK! For weekend activities, I try to make the acts of kindness super simple so that the kids can remember and perform them on their own (I also send home the b&w copy of the calendar so parents can help!) On Fridays we review the upcoming weekend's RAKs and discuss how we might accomplish them. For example, on the 14th, I'll make sure to teach my students a couple of jokes so they have some handy for telling to family members the next day! On Monday morning, the students will share if they completed their RAKs and how it made them feel! It truly makes a world of difference when your students are looking for ways to commit random acts of kindness!

And finally, I always taught about Martin Luther King Jr. in January. I think that's too late in the year as well. With the social climate these days, it just makes more sense to talk about these issues at the beginning of the school year as well. My Martin Luther King Jr. Pack has activities that are accessible for our young learners. It teaches the important concepts of changing the world through peace and love and that the change has to start with us.
Here are two of the activities included in the pack, easy for pre-k to 1st graders to understand!

If we start teaching about tolerance, kindness, fairness, honesty, peace and most of all LOVE at the beginning of the school year, we will reap the benefits all year long! I hope you'll be able to take these ideas back to school with you to build your classroom community! If you have tips of your own to share on building classroom community, please rustle up a comment below and share them!

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