Monday, August 31, 2015

Kind Kids Club - Teaching Kids Empthy

Every 2nd grade teachers says it daily: "How do you think that made ______ feel?" Usually, this is followed by a long face and a shrug ... occasionally even a smirk (grrr) ... or if I'm having  a lucky day, I might get the answer "bad". This leads me to wonder if they know WHY that person is feeling "bad" or if they just know it's the right thing to say.

So I'm left with the same question every year:
How do you teach 7 and 8-year-olds empathy?

This year I noticed a particularly high need. Kids were knocking each over without apologies or "are you okay?"s, they were saying hurtful comments, and they were really struggling with working cooperatively in groups because they all wanted to be in charge. As I searched the internet for inspiration, I stumbled across one class that had a Kind Kids Club. They would give Random Acts of Kindness together as a class. That's when I realized, the only way to know how good it feels to help others, is to actually go through the act of helping others. Most 2nd graders haven't really ever experienced that feeling of knowing you helped make another person's day better!  It was on! Here's the Kind Kids Club unit I created! I began with this sheet to introduce the idea to my class.

We kicked off the unit with this AMAZING book about empathy! I highly recommend it!
 After that,  I introduced the "ripple effect". This was a tough concept to explain, so I used them as props to act it out in a line of the carpet. We talked about how one student was having a tough day, but when I greeted her, hugged her, and noticed her feelings, it made her feel better. Then we acted out scenarios to go down the line. One example was that a child dropped his lunch in the cafeteria. It could have ruined his entire day, but the student that I cheered up decided to help him pick up his lunch. In this way, they were able to see the "ripple" going down the line!

The kids loved the idea that no matter how small they are they could still make a difference in this big world!
Once they realized this, they were pumped to join the club! I was so proud of  their applications!! It showed growth already! The pictures aren't super clear, but if you click on them, you can read what they wrote. It's totally worth the time to see their precious answers!

Of course they were accepted!
Next on our agenda: Deciding our first mission!
You can find all of the printables above and also lesson plans in the unit HERE!

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