Friendship Begins with a Smile

K, 1, 2

This lesson introduces children to the importance of facial expressions and their impact on other people. The feelings behind different facial expressions are discussed and the benefits of smiling at each other are emphasized. Students prepare to fill an unmet need for friendship by creating a banner to be given to a group selected by the class as part of a lesson later in this unit.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Thirty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify and describe emotions behind certain facial expressions.
  • tell how people feel when others smile at them.
  • speak with a smile and good eye contact.
  • identify and demonstrate the characteristics of "active listening."
  • Visual aids for stimulating discussion, such as photographs of faces from magazines or picture books. (optional)
  • Chart of lyrics for a teacher-created School Smiles Song or Chant (optional)
  • One piece of medium-grit sandpaper per student, approximately 4"x5"
  • Wax-based crayons
  • One piece of pre-washed muslin, approximately 26"x46" (or size desired) upon which "Friendship Begins with a Smile" should be written before the lesson. The lettering may be done with fabric markers, printed with alphabet sponges, or iron-on letters or any other available teacher method.
  • Teacher produced sample of artwork transferred to scrap muslin
  • Hot, dry iron
  • Newspapers
  • Clean paper to protect the iron while transferring the drawings


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    If the teacher has written a song or chant about smiling, begin the lesson by teaching or reviewing the song or chant.

    Discuss facial expressions and the emotions that are behind them. Visual aids or acting out emotions may be used. After you discuss several facial expressions and emotions, focus the discussion on smiling. Some questions to help facilitate discussion could include: "When do you smile? How do you feel when you smile? How do you feel when other people smile? Do you ever worry when other people smile? Whose smiles do you like the most? Why?"

  2. Pair students up. They are to take turns smiling at their partners and completing the sentence stem, "I smile when…" Direct students to be aware of maintaining good eye contact. Allow about three minutes for this teacher-directed activity.

  3. Seat the class in a circle where all can see and be seen. Have the students choose one of their ideas to share with the class. While speaking to the rest of the class, they are to smile and maintain good eye contact. Students are to practice good "active listening." They are to sit still, refrain from talking, look at the person who is sharing and refrain from negative remarks.

    • If the class is sufficiently mature, you may add a layer of complexity to the lesson. Have some people smile at the speakers, others maintain a neutral expression and others look bored. Students are to observe what happens during the sharing time. Students should focus on remembering the things that make their classmates smile and on noticing those students who practice good "active listening."Periodically during the sharing time, ask students who finished sharing to identify others who practiced good "active listening," and what that person was doing that let you know that he or she was practicing good "active listening." When all have had a chance to share, ask for a few volunteers to identify a classmate and tell what made that person smile.
    • Ask students how they felt when they were sharing and when they were listening.Did the listener's facial expression make any difference to the student who was speaking? Did listeners notice anything concerning how they affected the speakers? Can the class reach any conclusions? Does smiling make a difference?
  4. Student Practice:

    Demonstrate technique of drawing on sandpaper with wax crayons and instruct students to draw pictures of themselves smiling. Be sure to show a sample. Students need to be aware that their drawings will be mirror images when they are transferred to the banner. For this reason, they should not write their names in crayon on the sandpaper. Names need to be written in pencil or marker on the back of the sandpaper. Do not write in crayon on the back, as it will melt during the transfer process. If crayon is used on the back, you can still transfer the drawing. However, you need to be sure to protect the iron with enough paper to avoid getting melted crayon on the iron's sole plate.


    If help is available and time allows, pictures may be transferred to the banner during class. To do this, cover the work surface with a pad of newspapers topped with paper that does not have ink on it before placing the unfinished banner on it. Students' artwork is then placed face down on the banner one piece at a time and covered with a clean sheet of paper that is large enough to keep the iron from touching the banner. Place a hot, dry iron on top of the white paper until the image is transferred. Take care when moving the iron not to shift the artwork until transfer is completed. Allow it to cool slightly before lifting paper. Change paper if it becomes soiled.

  6. Closure:

  7. After students have finished their artwork, you may have students share their pictures with the class before turning them in to be transferred to the banner. If the banner has already been finished, students may compare their sandpaper picture to its image on the banner.

    • Ask students to recall the beginning of the lesson when they were sharing the things that made them smile with the rest of the class. Select students or ask for volunteers to share what they remember. Also, have students share the names of people they observed practicing good "active listening" and why they selected that person. What did that person do that showed good "active listening?"

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.