Our Kindness Garden

Creating a Kindness Garden (on our classroom ceiling) with flowers of kindness

Do you ever start a lesson with the intention to do one thing and then it veers off into a tangent where you have done something totally different, but much better?  That is what happened with this lesson on kindness.   In the end, we had a gorgeous art piece that showed lots of different ways to be kind that we can display all year long!

I started by reading the story Be Kind by Pat Zeitlow Miller.  It is a wonderful book about a little girl who learns ways to be kind to others when something unpleasant happens to a friend.  (side note: this book smells like lavender and is just wonderful to read.)  After a discussion on the ideas presented in the story that were kind and small ways to show kindness to others, I asked the students to brainstorm their own list on this paper here.  I had them work alone for about 5 minutes, then break into partners to complete the brainstorm.  
Creating a "Be Kind" anchor chart in 3rd grade

The next day, I asked the students to take those brainstormed ideas and complete the I Can statements to the right of them.  Since we are working on expanding sentences, I wanted them to write fully detailed sentences.  Instead of "I can clean my room.", I encouraged them to write "I can clean my room before my mom asks me to."  Just adding in a slight bit more detail and expansion to the sentences.  

I Can statements for how we can be kind in a 3rd grade classroom

Now here is where our lesson took a turn.  I intended to just stop there with the I Can statements, but I ordered this book, Oscar's Tower of Flowers by Lauren Tobia, and it happened to arrive from Amazon.  It is a wordless picture book in which a little boy, who misses someone close to him that has gone away, cheers himself and the entire neighborhood up by planting flowers.  You can see how his little act of kindness made the world a better place.  So we set off to make our own tower of flowers.

Picture Book SEL about Kindness

I gave the students a large piece of paper (24" x 9"....I just cut a large piece of construction paper in half lengthwise) and gave them a circle to trace.  I asked them to trace 5 or 6 circles.  Then, they were to draw petals on the circles in any shape they wanted.  The kids got very creative here!  

Next, I handed each student a sharpie and they wrote their I Can statements in the circles in the middle of the flowers.  They then colored the flowers and we hung them on our ceiling (though you could hang them anywhere you have room!) It truly made for a gorgeous display, reminding us of ways to be kind and that beautiful, inspiring book!

What lessons have you done before that took a slight detour and ended up just wonderful?

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