Service-Learning Toolkit to Grow Kindness
The best service-learning projects are related to classroom instruction, involve student voice and choice, address a researched need, and work with local resources.
Teach Learning to Give lessons to connect service with academic subjects and build philanthropy knowledge and skills. These lesson plans teach about the issues, why we should care and act, and the skills and knowledge of social good, such as writing, advocacy, history, fundraising, and careers.
Types of Service Projects
Student action may be direct, indirect, advocacy, research, or a combination of these.
Article: Great things Happen in the Overlap: Making the Connection between Philanthropy Education, Project Based Learning, and Service-Learning
Article: Education and Community: A Time for Giving: If students tend to learn best through example and first-hand experience, why is the traditional education system so focused on test scores and standards? This article provides the evidence and support educators and parents need to equip and empower their students to be active, engaged, and caring citizens.
Create kindness bookmarks
Have students design and craft bookmarks with kindness slogans and random acts of kindness ideas. Ask the local library if you may put the bookmarks on the library checkout desk for patrons to take as they leave the library. Photo Credit: Handmade by AlivaPam is licensed under CC by 4.0
Handwrite personal cards
Write a personal note to someone. The note should include a compliment or words of encouragement. These notes could be given to friends, family members, people in the hospital, seniors in a nursing home, deployed troops, or anyone else that could use an uplifting card. Attach a candy bar to the notes and deliver them.
Make a simple kindness craft
Have students design and create a craft such as a bracelet, lapel pin, or a small doll. Include an inspirational message or quote. Give the handmade items with the message attached to a designated group as a symbol of empathy and caring. They could be given to a group in another country, to those that recently experienced a disaster or a loss, or anyone who needs support. This craft could also be an inspiration to 'pay it forward'. In the video below, the little girl inspires her community to pay it forward and to 'fill their buckets':
Students can research best practics for combating bullying and create a campaign designed to impact students and community members. They could do programs for other classes, create anti-bullying materials, design PSA videos or brochures, and even write to local and state legislators to try and get them to strengthen laws against cyber-bullying and bullying in general.
- Challenge the students to line the halls with acts of kindness. Set a linear length for a class or school goal, and for each act of kindness completed, fill out a heart-shaped paper with a sentence or description.
- Give flowers (real or artistic models) to residents in a retirement community.
- Make and give out buttons with kindness slogans on them.
- Create a gift basket for a family who has experienced a loss.
- Randomly hand out chocolate kisses or lollipops to people for no reason and say, "Have a nice day".
- Help a family member or neighbor with babysitting, pet care, or house/yard work.
- Invite a fellow student, who appears to be isolated from the group, to join in an activity.
- Wash the dishes or unload the dishwasher without being asked.
- Cook dinner for your friends or family as a surprise.
- Smile at people you pass in the school hallways. Photo Credit Give by Tung Lycan is licensed under CC by 4.0
Potential Community Partners
Find partners in your community who will work with your students on kindness projects. Engage the students in investigating the issue and calling the partners. Connecting with a community resource makes the project more meaningful and impactful.
- Homeless shelters
- Senior care facilities or centers
- American Legion
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
- Needy families
- Food pantries
- Neighborhood organizations
- Rotary Club
- Lion's Club
Other Resources for Investigation and Communication
This is a list of resources that may expand the learning around the issue area and involve the students in identifying needs and solutions.
This nonprofit organization provides background information on a variety of issues that interest youth, as well as ideas for taking action to promote resolution for issues and fostering kindness in the community. Join with other young people to make a difference.
GenerationOn, is one of the main partners of Learning to Give. They are currently working on an initiative called the Rules of Kindness Campaign. Essentially, youth make a pledge to create kindness rules, they then create the rules and establish a plan of action with resources from GenerationOn and their partners, lastly those involved are asked to share their stories and how they aided their communities. This is a great way to involve students in building empathy, kindness and community impact.
Kindr is a simple tool for using social media to do good. Spread kindness on your mobile device and earn points. Users are able to send compliments to their friends and they earn 'points' for doing so. Kindr also posts stories from the Huffington Post to encourage people to be kind and to help others.
As one of our partner organizations, Random Acts of Kindness focuses on promoting kindness in schools, communities and homes. They have many resources related to kindness including vidoes, quotes, research, and facts about kindness. There are also free lesson plans for educators, kindness ideas and stories to help inspire others. They challenge their supporters to become RAKtivists, Random Acts of Kindness Activists.
BullyingInfo.org is a project of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP) focused on providing tools and resources for youth, parents, teachers and mental health providers to prevent and address bullying. There is also information particularly related to cyberbullying.
This video shows how a group of elementary school students befriended a classmate with a disability. The young boy was often teased, but his new group of friends has made him feel included. This is an excellent example of how students can be kind to others that may be a little different.
Education.com. "Help Stop Bullying - Spread the Word" Education.com, 2016. Web.
WorksheetPlace. "Kindness Worksheets" http://worksheetplace.com, 2016. Web.