“Each Kindness” by J. Woodson is a wonderful story about judging someone based on the the way the look and missed opportunities for kindness. What I really love is that this story does not have a happy ending. The powerful ending is an engaging way to have students reflect on the ripple effect of their actions.
I like to partner this lesson with the Mind Up curriculum. It’s a great way to make a connection between behavior and mindfulness. So we always start class with a review of the brain and by doing a mindup warm up.
I show the class some pictures of puppies. Although this is a before and after, I do NOT let them know that. I simply ask them to call out the first words that come to mind.
They often say things such as “dirty, a mop, gross, smelly, scary, hurt, or abused.”
Then I show the after and ask them to again share first thoughts.
Next, I ask students to define being “non judgemental.” We discuss what it means to be judgemental and the connection between mindfulness and judgement.
We discuss how “judging a book by it’s cover” is a non mindful behavior.
Next we read “Each Kindness” and look for examples of characters showing non mindful behavior. For example, by calling Maya’s clothes “old and ragged” they are showing judgement and not being mindful.
We use my activity card set to discuss the story. This is a perfect opportunity to build community by using cooperative learning techniques.
Get the re-hooked:
Here I show two videos about the ripple effect of our actions.
The first video is a Rube Goldberg video and we talk about how ripple effects are like chain reactions.
As a class we use a paint chip to talk about the ripple effects from the book. Starting with the darkest color we write down “judged a book by it’s cover” which then leads to a ripple. For example- she turned away, they refused to get to know Maya, Maya felt alone, etc.
The second video is “Color Our World With Kindness.” After watching this video I ask students to complete another paint chip. Only this time with a positive. “What if they hadn’t judged her?” “What if they hadn’t turned away?”
This is a great place to introduce acts of kindness they can do. You can grab ideas and activities with my kindness activity set.
I also like to end with a mindful moment or reflection.
Ideas for a mindful moment:
“Can they think of a time they were unkind to someone? What were they thinking then? What would they do differently now?”
Imagine a person they don’t know very well. Imagine sending love and kindness to that person.
Name 5 friends they are grateful for because they show kindness.
You can grab lots of mindful ideas in my mindful activity set.