Random acts of kindness. They’re small moments in the school day that can make a major difference in students’ lives, and yet working this concept into a busy school year can be complicated. With 180 days and countless directives, how do you manage to encourage your students to be generous and gracious and sprinkle these random acts of kindness into the day?
Whether you’re looking to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17 (just after Valentine’s Day) or just looking for some random acts of kindness ideas for kids to add to your social-emotional lessons, here’s a guide for teachers to make this concept both easier to teach and truly inspiring to kids.
What is the Origin of Random Acts of Kindness?
The concept of doing kind things for other people has been around for as long as there have been people, but the origin of the phrase Random Acts of Kindness is a bit murky — there’s no way to know who said it first.
Most credit the phrase’s popularity to a California woman named Anne Herbert who wrote an article titled “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” in a 1985 issue of the countercultural journal “Whole Earth Review.” Herbert went on to co-write a children’s book of the same name in 1993, securing the term’s place in the zeitgeist.
Republished 20 years later with a foreword by Bishop Desmond Tutu, the book is a good start for elementary school teachers looking to implement random acts of kindness in the classroom.
In addition to Herbert, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation in Colorado has played a crucial role in establishing “Random Acts of Kindness” as a worldwide phenomenon. The non-profit was formed in the early 1990s and has been the driving force behind making February 17 the official Random Acts of Kindness Day, focused on a mission to “Make Kindness the Norm.”
The non-profit offers teachers, students, and other individuals a chance to sign on as RAKtivists, short for Random Act of Kindness activist. Apply for your class, and you’ll get free monthly missions to spread more kindness plus access to the RAKtivist Facebook group!
Random Acts of Kindness Ideas for Kids
Looking for immediate random acts of kindness ideas for kids to do in the classroom? Start with small, manageable tasks that kids can do to show them random acts of kindness are for everyone, no matter their age.
Some ideas perfect for school include:
- Holding the classroom door open for classmates
- Allowing a friend to go first in a recess game
- Asking another student if they need help
- Throwing out a friend’s trash at lunchtime
- Waving to a classmate on the school bus
- Picking up another student’s pencil when it falls
More Ways to Promote Random Acts of Kindness at School
Some random acts of kindness ideas you can kick off as a teacher:
- Use our Random Acts of Kindness calendar with your students for the month. It includes 16 different kindness tasks for your students to do for others.
- Set up a “kindness” board in your classroom with sticky notes where students can write kind things about their classmates and post them.
- Sign your class up for the Great Kindness Challenge for a week of challenges.
- Brainstorm random acts of kindness ideas and make kindness fortune tellers with your class.
- A simple hello could lead to a million smiles. Have your students use our Hello Greeting Cards template to write a nice compliment inside for a class member.
- Create a kindness chain for the classroom. Give students paper slips to write down ideas for random acts of kindness, and link them together to display on your bulletin board or even out in the hallway. Kindness might be catching!
- Post a “sprinkle kindness” banner in the classroom as a visual reminder to practice random acts of kindness.
Looking for more ways to encourage kindness? Try these kindness teacher resources!
Banner image via shutterstock/Maximiliano Gagliano