How to encourage random acts of kindness in your classroom this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the most precious holidays because of its emphasis on one of the most valuable and uplifting feelings - gratitude. Doing good deeds is an essential part of being grateful. Random acts of kindness are uncalled for selfless acts performed to make other people feel good, without expecting anything in return.

There are several ways to encourage and catalyze random acts of kindness in your classroom this Thanksgiving.

7-day Gratitude Challenge

Ask your students to create a list of five things they are grateful for from the top of their heads. Then in the coming days, ask them to think about and write down one thing they are grateful for each day, the one that makes the greatest impression on them on a particular day. To make the task more engaging, you can ask them to create the list in the form of a poster. You can analyze if their lists have gotten more profound as they dedicate more time to thinking about things they're grateful for.

Ho'oponopono: "I'm Sorry, Forgive Me, Thank You, I Love You!"

Saying these four magical expressions has become more popular in recent years through the practice of Ho'oponopono. Originally, Ho'oponopono was a traditional practice of "setting things right," of resolving conflicts and "errors of thought" within individuals and families in Hawaii and Oceania. The now-popular Ho'oponopono is something of a new age spin-off of the original practice. In the modern version, it comes down to repeating these four important words "I'm Sorry, Forgive Me, Thank You, I Love You".

Without diving deep into philosophy, ask your students to stand in line. One student should turn towards the other and say these words (they don't have to be in a particular order). It is incredible how simple but profound words can open little people's hearts. Watch the mood and emotions change as this chain of kindness comes to an end.

The art of writing thank-you notes

Thank-you notes used to be common. Now, with instant messaging options, they are going extinct, but it is amazing that along with forgetting about thank-you notes we seem to be forgetting to thank each other enough altogether.

Help your students learn how to write proper thank-you notes. Besides practicing kindness, it is a good skill to have in life.

Thank You Letters for School Community

Here's the first opportunity to practice those Thank-you note skills. Talk to children about jobs and chores people in the school community do every day in order for your school lives to run smoothly. Imagine together how a janitor's day must look like. Try to really imagine yourself in their shoes. Then after a discussion, write short letters of gratitude and deliver them to people in the greater school community: the janitor, food staff, the gym teacher, or the principal.

Good-doers society

Ask students to form small groups - "secret societies" made out of two to three kids that will do random acts of kindness for other students. Whether this means leaving a candy or a flower on their desk, or cleaning their table, or leaving anonymous positive notes, the only rule is that others must not discover them. At the end of the week, groups can "confess" the things that they have done if they wish. Children will love doing the undercover tasks. This way, you're subverting the usual secret mischief stereotype and using it to do good. You will see how profound effects the secret good-doers societies will have on your students in the long run.

Looking for a low prep option this Thanksgiving? Why not check out my Thanksgiving Celebration Study? Students love this resources and learn so much about Thanksgiving from it. 

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