Why I Wrote This Kit
Responsibility sees a need and helps; but, kindness and compassion set out to look for needs to meet. I was very sick for a year. My friends, family, students, and the people I work with showered a thousand gifts of kindness on our family. The cards, flowers, emails, hugs, and pictures filled my kindness bucket and my walls, encouraging me and helping me to fight cancer. Each gift of kindness encouraged me to be kinder and more compassionate to the people around me. Each gift of kindness reminded me that no kindness is too small. Everyone can choose to look for needs and become kinder, more compassionate toward the billions of neighbors we share the earth with.
Talk About It
Part of friendship, family, and community is kindness. Talk with your child about kindness in these settings and think of ways you can set out together to be kind. You could begin by thinking about what kindness and friendship look like. Ask your child, “What makes someone a good friend?” If he or she is having difficulty thinking of specific traits of a friend, think of a friend or family member who is kind, helpful, or compassionate. Ask, “What kind of friend is ____?” “What does _____ do or say that makes him or her a good friend?” Listen to his or her thoughts and ask, “Who else do we know who is kind, helpful, and caring like _____?” and “What kind of friends are we to the people around us? Are we kind, do we look for ways to help or cheer up other people?” Continue talking about the kind things you notice about friends, family, and even strangers. You can wrap up a conversation by asking, “What do we learn about kindness from this person?” and “How does this person inspire us to be kind?”
To start a conversation about kindness based on a story, choose a book below. As you read, ask questions like, “What do you imagine about this character?” “How does he / she feel in this picture?” “If you could talk to the other characters, what would you suggest they do to show kindness to him / her?” “If you were a character in this book, what choices would you like to make?” “How can we make a difference for our neighbors?”
Accept your child’s ideas and attempts to show kindness, rather than criticizing his / her ideas or efforts. In an interview with Parents Magazine, Dr. Schonfeld, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, says "‘Kids want to help cook dinner, wash the car, and do the dishes, and, sure, they'll do it slowly and imperfectly at first.’ You're teaching them that they can make a difference at home. Just imagine how good they'll feel when they step out into the world.”
Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, illustrated by David Messing
Through simple prose and vivid illustrations, this book encourages positive behavior as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well-being of others and ourselves. (Nelson Publishing & Marketing)
The up-beat song Fill Your Bucket, helps us think of ways to be kind and sings of the way filling kindness buckets helps others and brings kindness back to us, too.
Activity: Memory Making Kindness Bucket
What you will need:
- Colorful Origami Paper (any very thin paper will work)
- Scissors or paper cutter
- A bucket (any size)
What to do:
- Cut paper into narrow strips – for small stars cut paper thin, for larger stars cut paper ½ inch wide or larger
- Every time someone is kind to you or your family, select a strip of paper, write a note and add drawings to remember how someone has filled your bucket
- Fold an origami star with the paper to remember the kindness & place the star in your bucket. On sad days, you can pull out a star & remember a special kindness
Bluebird by Bob Staake
I love wordless picture books but it is difficult to make them work. Bob Staake’s “Bluebird” makes it work by allowing “readers” to craft their own deep tale. Each page has an array of expressions and actions providing the potential for many stories. My daughter picked out the themes of friendship, bullying, loneliness, and magic quickly and was able to craft a tale for me. I loved that. I loved that this book allowed by daughter to tell me a story. The depth of each page even provides fodder for a new story each night. (John P., Zoobean Curator)
Check out the Bluebird Book Trailer
Listen to the Manassas Symphony playing Jerry Bruaker’s “Bluebird” based on the book by Bob Staake. I love the serene opening of this piece, the jazzy phrasing of city and school scenes (that remind me of Gershwin and “West Side Story”), and the sound of joy and triumph as the symphony and story conclude. Listen for the instruments that tell the tale of the boy and Bluebird. Can you hear them? Which instruments do hear? Can you hear the piccolo? It has a bright, “high” sound that we hear when Bluebird is active. How do the music and story teach us, together about kindness? Listen for the changes in the music to help you understand the emotions that both kindness and unkindness make us feel.
Ten Things I Love About You by Daniel Kirk
Rabbit decides to make a list of the 10 things he likes best about his friend, Pig. Pig is a little impatient with Rabbit's frequent interruptions to show him his progress, but each little annoyance from Pig becomes a positive thing for Rabbit to add to his list. When Rabbit rings Pig's bell to ask for his help with the list, Pig replies, "This is your list, Rabbit. Only you know what to say." This sentiment is reflected in item #3 on the list: "I love Pig because he believes in me." The book ends with Rabbit discovering why Pig has been so busy - he has been writing his own list of reasons why he likes Rabbit. (School Library Journal)
Follow Up: Write letters to family members telling them 10 things you love or appreciate about them. Include drawings to illustrate your letters.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson, illustrated by Fumi Kosaka
Can one good deed from an ordinary girl change the world? It can when she's Ordinary Mary--an ordinary girl from an ordinary school, on her way to ordinary house--who stumbles upon ordinary blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop, she starts a chain reaction that multiplies around the world. Mrs. Bishop makes blueberry muffins and gives them to her paperboy and four others--one of whom is Mr. Stevens, who then helps five different people with their luggage--one of whom is Maria, who then helps five people--including a man named Joseph who didn't have enough money for his groceries--and so on, until the deed comes back to Mary. (Gibbs Smith)
Author, Emily Pearson, shares how Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed changed one group of children.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed
Read Aloud App with Vocabulary Building (Ages 3-6)
Platform: iTunes ($3.99 for iOS device with iBooks 1.3 or later and iOS 4.2 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later) and Google Play
The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz, illustrated by Steve Adams
Rink Bowagon is not like other boys. Not only does he live on Lonesome Mountain, a "hotbed of strange and exotic talents," but he is shy, quiet, and sprouts flowers from his body during each full moon. Shunned at school, Rink keeps to himself--until a kind, honest girl named Angelina Quiz with a short right leg joins his class. Rink instantly likes her and decides to ask her to the school dance, painstakingly crafting for her a pair of snakeskin party shoes with one extra-thick right sole to balance her out. When Rink shows up at Angelina's door with green shoes and pink roses in hand (they had previously sprouted from his head), her heart flips, and the rest is history. (Booklist)
Rink and Angelina show us the beauty of accepting others for who they are, differences, sprouting flowers and all.
Activity: Plant a seed of kindness
What You Will Need:
- Small buckets or jars
- Seeds for flowers, herbs, or tomatoes
- Potting soil
- A small shovel or large spoon
What to do:
- Fill buckets 2/3 full with potting soil, follow directions on the seed packet for planting, amount of sun and water
- Share with someone who needs to have their bucket filled with kindness
Extend this activity by practicing measuring as you plant and water the seeds
What you will need:
- A measuring cup
- A kitchen scale
- Your nature journal
- A ruler
What to do:
- Measure and weigh potting soil, water, and the seeds before you plant them
- Record measurements in the nature journal
- Estimate and take note of the number of days it takes for the seeds to sprout
- After the seeds sprout, measure the height every day
- Draw and label the seed, sprout, and plant in the nature journal
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
A little girl longs to see beyond the scary sights on the sidewalk and the angry scribbling in the halls of her building. When her teacher writes the word beautiful on the blackboard, the girl decides to look for something beautiful in her neighborhood. Her neighbors tell her about their own beautiful things. Miss Delphine serves her a “beautiful” fried fish sandwich at her diner. At Mr. Lee’s “beautiful” fruit store, he offers her an apple. Old Mr. Sims invites her to touch a smooth stone he always carries. Beautiful means “something that when you have it, your heart is happy,” the girl thinks. Her search for “something beautiful” leaves her feeling much happier. She has experienced the beauty of friendship and the power of hope. (Amazon)
Don’t Laugh At Me by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin, illustrated by Glin Dibley
Do you wear glasses? Ever been picked last for the team? Afraid you’ll be called on in class? Don’t laugh at me. Don’t call me names. Have you laughed at someone else for the same reasons? Someone you thought was geeky or slow--someone different from you. Don’t get your pleasure from my pain. For anyone who’s ever been bullied--or been a bully themselves--it’s time to change your tune. This is not a book for whiners, but a new language that will give you the words you need to take charge and stop the cycle of teasing. (Publisher)
The song Don’t Laugh At Me accompanies the text and pictures of the story, putting to music the lesson that we are all the same, even if we have some things that make us unique.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
A monochrome town gets a change of color and attitude with the help of a box of yarn and a girl named Annabelle. From the seemingly endless box of Extra Yarn Annabelle knits clothing for everyone around her, tempering the ill-tempered, and creating beautifully patterned warmth for people, animals, and objects, alike. When a greedy clothes-loving archduke tries to buy--then steal--the box for himself, he discovers that ill-gotten gains bear no fruit--or in this case, yarn. Mac Barnett’s elegant and clever story is complemented by Jon Klassen’s illustrations, and fans of I Want My Hat Back will enjoy the familiar faces that show up in this picture book about the magical properties of kindness and generosity. (Zoobean)
Mom, Tracey, from We-Made-That.com shares directions for summer-y yarn butterflies that help children develop an appreciation for each individual, builds fine motor skills, and strengthens concentration. I think these butterflies are a great way to cheer up someone who needs some kindness.
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
Young Amelia grins as she and her parents splash through a city street. “And because Amelia smiled,” well, Mrs. Higgins, looking out her window, smiles, too. Happy, she sends cookies to her grandson teaching in Mexico, who shares them with his class. One of his students decides to teach dancing in the park, a video of it goes online, and a ballet club in England sees it and adds some new moves. They tour in Israel and . . . lots more happens after that until Amelia’s smile comes full circle. Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken (2010), uses a quite different style here. Realistic, heavily colored, and intensely detailed, the illustrations invite children to look closely and see the way people across the globe are connected: the smiles, the pets, the music. Certainly, there’s a lot to discuss here, and some adults may want kids to make connections with their own actions, but this is also just a lovely way to look at life. (Booklist)
Talk About It:
How did each individual in Something Beautiful and Because Amelia Smiled make a difference? Did each of these people have to be kind? What made them want to be kind? How do these characters encourage us to be kind?
The Can Man
Joe Peters, "The Can Man," lived in Tim's building until the auto body shop where he worked closed. Unable to find a job, he's now homeless and relies on the cash he gets from redeeming empty cans to survive. When Tim learns that his parents won't have enough money to buy him a skateboard for his birthday, he takes his cue from The Can Man and decides to earn the money himself. However, while he amasses several bags of cans, The Can Man finds almost nothing. Tim has been venturing out ahead and collecting in the homeless man's territory. Joe Peters harbors no hard feelings, though, and even helps Tim at the redemption center. But when the boy weighs his skateboard against the man's urgent need for a winter coat, he gives him the money. The lengthy text describes the homeless man's situation without judgment, and Tim's parents don't pressure him to stop encroaching on Mr. Peters's turf, leaving him free to make his own decisions. The large illustrations, rendered in oil, depict an urban neighborhood of shops and multiethnic apartment dwellers. (School Library Journal)
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Jones
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants. (Amazon)
Kindness at School
The New Girl … and Me
On her first day of school, who will be her friend? Raise your hand if it's you. You'll meet someone — and something — surprising. Two...girls named Shakeeta and Mia become friends when Shakeeta boasts that she has a pet iguana and Mia learns how to help Shakeeta "feel at home" even when she is in school. [Barnes & Noble]
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Chloe and her friends won't play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe's teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she'd shown a little kindness toward Maya. (Barnes & Noble)
Each Kindness Book Trailer
Mama Mae: Mookey by Alicia Keyes
Use an app, like Mama Mae: Mookey, to talk about differences and how being unkind hurts others. When characters in this app story laugh at other characters differences, stop and talk about the choices each character could make. Ask your child, “If you could talk to the children who are teasing other kids, what would you want them to know about how being unkind makes other people feel?” “If you were the character being teased, how would you feel? What could you do about it?” “If you saw someone being teased like this, what choices would you have and what would you want to do to help?” Discuss different options and help your child understand how you would respond with kindness and how you would encourage him or her to respond with kindness.
Available on iTunes
Character education experts urge children to practice tolerance and acceptance, and this app conveys this message through a story within a story about Bali and his cousin Ankita, games, and song. If your child enjoys Mama Mae: Mookey by Alicia Keys and wants to access more of LeeLee’s world, you could click on the “Play in LeeLee’s Room” link on the home page. It’ll take you to the accompanying app, Alicia Keys: Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee (free with in-app purchases) for more activities, games, and music. (Sheila F., Zoobean Curator)
Kind Kids (Random Acts of Kindness for Kids)
Kind Kids is the first app to help children learn about acts of kindness that they can do themselves.
Every day, the child will be presented with a random act of kindness they can do for themselves, their friends, their family, their teachers, their community, or even the environment. Each act is accompanied by a random picture of something interesting or nice to look at. The child is presented with two choices: "I promise" or "Pick again". If they choose "I promise", the app keeps track of promises made (kind acts done), so the child knows how many kind things they have done overall. If they choose "pick again", another choice is presented. They can pick up to 4 things every day, but then they will have to wait about half a day before they get more choices. Occasionally, a "gold star" act will appear. These are acts that take a little extra special effort, or take more time to do or learn to do. If the child promises to do one of these, they get a Gold Star. There are 16 of these to earn. In addition, when a certain number of kind acts have been done, the child earns a bronze, silver, or gold heart. (iTunes)
Available on iTunes
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Spatter & Spark
Follow along with Spatter & Spark as they reach new heights in their friendship through creativity and innovation! New York Times bestselling children's book author Deborah Underwood brings wonderful characters to life in this adorable story of how friends with diverse gifts and talents can collaborate together for a common goal. Each page is filled with interactivity, from a Rube-Goldberg doorbell to the perfect (well, almost perfect) bouncy shoes that your child can customize. The twist at the end will bring you and your child to giggles! (Tara P., Zoobean Curator)
Spatter the porcupine is an artist who sees the beauty of the world around him and wants to share it with others. His friend, Spark the fox, loves to create inventions and solve problems – though as kids will discover, sometimes her inventions might cause more problems than they solve! Despite their differences, Spatter and Spark are best friends because they appreciate each other’s strengths and rely on one-another for help when they need it. (Developer)
In the classic song, The More We Get Together, children’s singer and song writer, Raffi, reminds us that togetherness and friendship make us happy. Talk about the ways we show friendship when we are together. You can ask, “How do you know someone wants to be your friend?” “How do you show others that you are a friend?” Suggest some ways, like smiling or helping, that we can show kindness and friendship. Ask, “How should we show kindness and friendship while we are out at the library, store, or park, today?”
Use Try Some Kindness (The Letter K Song) to talk about the choices we have, when friends need someone to show them kindness. Someone wants a turn? Ask your child, “If someone wanted a turn before you got your to take your turn, what could you do to be kind?” and “If you prefer not to let someone else go before you, how could you ask them to wait for their turn in a kind way?” Your friend is sad? Ask your child, “When you see a sad friend or classmate, what are some things you can do to try to cheer them up?” What can you do? Try some kindness!
Elmo & Louie sing to each other, sharing how proud they are of each other for the care and kindness they show to each other and to those around them. This Sesame Street song is also a tribute to military families, showing pictures of members of the military with their children.
In the beloved Dr. Suess story, Horton discovers the nearly invisible society of Who’s living in the jungle. Horton cares about the Who’s and sets out to keep them safe. Horton’s efforts lead the other jungle animals to think Horton is crazy; but, Horton and The Who continue their struggle against impossible odds to protect the Who’s because every life is valuable, no matter how significant or seemingly insignificant. “A person is a person, no matter how small.” (Zoobean)
“One” by Kathryn Otoshi
Watch and listen to “One” by Kathryn Otoshi. After watching, talk about the ways the colors and numbers showed kindness and friendship to each other. Ask, “How did 1 help the colors?” “Did you notice that when the numbers and colors stood up to Red, the were not mean? When someone is unkind to you or your friends, how can you stand up for each other and still be kind?”
Create a Positive Family Word Jar
What you will need:
- 1 Large jar or vase
- Scissors or paper cutter
- Markers or colored pencils
What to do:
- Cut each sheet of card stock into 4 or 5 strips
- Write positive words on each strip
- Words to get you started: kind, kindness, generous, selfless, compassion, friendship, accept, hug, share, smile
- Talk about the meaning of each word – write the meaning of each word on the word strip and ask a young artist to draw their understanding of the word on the word strip
- Ask everyone in the family to think of ways to act or live out each kindness & record their ideas on the back of the word strip -- to get the conversation going, share ways people have been kind or compassionate toward you
- Place word strips in jar
- Use card stock and markers to decorate the outside of your positive word jar
- Draw one word strip each day or week. Read the meaning of the word and choose of the ideas to live out that day or week. Use each word in conversations, adding new words each day or week
Additional Resources: Website
Sprout: Kindness Counts & the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation websites share ideas that children and families can use to show kindness, a photos of children showing kindness. Have you found a great way to find people who need kindness? Has someone looked for a way to be kind to you? Use Sprout’s personalized kindness counter or Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Share Your Story feature to record kindnesses.
Use a website, like VolunteerMatch or Create The Good to find a location or cause near you where your family can volunteer. Add your volunteering to your Sprout kindness counter or add it to Random Acts of Kindness’ stories.
For more ideas on encouraging kindness, see 14 Little Ways to Encourage Kindness, from Parents.com/
About Rebekah K.
An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."