February is an ideal month to start a new trend in your home or classroom… Secret kindness pals create excitement and add warmth through kindness to the classroom.
Begin with Literature
To begin our exploration of kindness, I start by reading aloud. I have found that literature provides the perfect introduction and helps weave ideas together for students. The short chapter book entitled, Horrible Harry and The Green Slime by Suzy Kline shares a story of a classroom where the teacher chooses to give her class secret pals. The first time I read this book to a class I had a student ask if our class could have secret pals. I said “yes” for many reasons and one of them being that the timing was perfect. It was very close to Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness week had just started.
A Week Filled with Kindness
Our kindness week is filled with excitement as students think about different ways to be kind to their secret pal and to others. We create lists with simple ideas to spread kindness: hold the door for someone, help another student get their book bag out of their locker, draw a picture, write a poem, bake some banana bread, and many more. We draw pictures for our secret pal making sure to include colors, activities or people he/she enjoys. We discuss how being kind feels and how it feels to be the receiver of a kind act.
Conclude with A Clue Poem
I ask students take part in writing clue poems about themselves to conclude and reveal our secret pals. Each student composes a poem with ten clues about themselves. Students also write the name of their secret pal but not their own name on the top. This way we do not know the writer but do know who it is for. I then read each poem aloud, tell the class who the secret pal is and we all try to guess who wrote the poem. When we figure out the writer, he/she then delivers a special Valentine’s box to his/her secret pal.
A Personalized Surprise for our Secret Pals
I often choose to conclude our mini-unit on the day of our Valentine’s party for the simple reason that my students can make a Valentine’s collection box for their secret pal. You could easily conclude on a different day with a different type of simple gift. I ask students, as a family homework activity, to create a personalized Valentine’s box for his/her secret pal. Students know their secret pal through our classroom community but I also have each student fill out an interview about him or herself describing their favorite places, people, activities, etc. This information is passed along to their secret pal. This way he/she can add personal touches to drawings, poems and the Valentine’s box. The results are often beautiful and varied ~ as students really think about their pal and his/her interests.