If there’s one thing this world could use more of, it’s empathy and compassion. These activities will promote empathy, kindness and compassion in your children, whether in the classroom or the world at large! They teach kids how to be more aware of others and respond to those around them in a kind and caring way. Designed for kids in preschool and elementary school.
The Obituary Writing Exercise: A writing activity and classroom discussion designed to help kids reflect on their priorities and conduct themselves with kindness & compassion. Intended for kids in the later grades of elementary school, junior high, and high school.
Empathy Building Activities
Interview a Classmate Activity: A fun activity for pre-K & elementary school students that helps them get to know their classmates better.
The Needs of Others: A group time activity to that will get kids thinking about how we rely on one another. (Preschool & elementary)
Activities to Teach Children Kindness
Classroom Compliments: This group time activity will help children see that every child possesses positive attributes, and that small compliments can brighten a person’s day, which is why we should give them more often. (Preschool & early elementary)
Kind Acts Dramatic Play: Since children learn through role playing, these role-play activities will teach kids about various acts of kindness throughout the community. (Pre-K & early elementary)
Kind Acts Chart: A teacher directed chart that rewards children for kind acts. (Preschool & early elementary)
Stories of Anguish (Grade school): Provide the kids with pencil and paper and have them go around trying to collect stories from 3 different classmates about a time when they’ve felt especially hurt, sad, scared, and so on, as well as what they did to overcome it. The goal is to promote greater empathy for others by learning about the different trials and tribulations that peers have endured. Once this activity is over, you might consider offering them some type of extra credit throughout the year for each additional story they collect from peers, family, friend’s, etc. (Grades 3-6)
The Kindness Tree
Use brown contact paper, butcher paper, or brown paper bags to create a large tree outline on one of the walls in your classroom. Don’t add leaves, just create the outline of the trunk and its branches. Next get a few pads of green sticky notes from an office supply store.
Gather your kids in a group, and explain that you want to focus on little, everyday acts of kindness. Give them some examples of the types of things that would qualify:
- Consoling someone when they’re sad
- Giving up your spot to someone else
- Giving unsolicited compliments or saying kind things
- Helping someone who needs it
- Sharing something you’re not required to share
- Acting in a way that shows you’re thinking about others
- And so forth.
Each time you witness an act of kindness, you’re going to put a new leaf on this tree. You can also let kids self-report a kindness somebody else did them, though you may have to reign it in a little if things get too out of hand and they’re coming to you with manufactured acts of kindness as opposed to authentic, spontaneous ones. Tell them that over the next month or two, you want to transform these barren branches into a big bushy tree filled with acts of kindness.
Carry a clipboard around with you during the day so you can jot down all the kind acts you observe. For each one, cut a sticky note into the shape of a leaf, writing down the kind act and who performed it. Then pick a time during the day to gather as a group and add all the new leaves to the tree, briefly describing each act of kindness as you go.
Kids will benefit from having kindness represented in a physical way like this, and they’ll be motivated to add new leaves to the tree that have their name on it. So it’s a great way to get them constantly thinking about acts of kindness. Even after you’re through with this project, behaving in spontaneously kind ways will become more of a habit.