#BeKind Resources for Elementary School Educators
Books for Educators
- Secret Kindness Agents: How Small Acts of Kindness Really Can Change the World
By Ferial Pearson, EdD, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Moved by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Ferial Pearson wondered if a simple act of kindness could change a life. She thought of the school where she taught and the students she guided every day and wondered, what would happen if we started secretly carrying out small acts of kindness in school?
- Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness Through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations
By Laminack and Wadsworth
Bullying Hurts is not your same-old anti-bullying guide. Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth show how the read aloud, a familiar and proven instructional technique, can be used as a powerful way to neutralize bullying behaviors, create community in the classroom, and help you meet the Common Core State Standards at the same time.
- Kindness Counts: A Story for Teaching Random Acts of Kindness (Without Limits)
By Smith and Martin
When Cade's and his family find out their ice cream order was paid for by another patron, they continue paying it forward, and so starts the discussion of random acts of kindness. Cade takes this idea and runs with it, showing unexpected kindnesses to others. But when Cade's dad would like him to donate some of his own toys, he has a hard time. Will Cade be able to learn the importance of being kind to others, even when it isn't easy? Find out in this tale about showing kindness.
- Making a Difference: Teaching Kindness, Character and Purpose
Kindness, courtesy, respect and purpose: Through positive and motivating text, Making a Difference assures children that they are important, and that what they do matters. Boost your child's confidence and sense of purpose as you read and affirm that their hopeful thoughts, kind words and good choices can make a difference to themselves and others. Making a Difference is a book that can help build social skills and character, teach life lessons to your children, and put them on a pathway to kindness, courtesy, respect, and purpose.
- The Kindness Curriculum: Stop Bullying Before It Starts
Help preschoolers develop compassion for others with this collection of classroom and at-home activities. These simple but powerful lessons help children practice loving values as they contribute to a supportive learning environment—a place where all children seek out the goodness in themselves and others.
Picture Books that Promote Kindness
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they've put it down.
- The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.
- The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.
- Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
Putting a unique spin on "what goes around comes around," David Ezra Stein’s charmingly illustrated story reminds us that adding even a small dose of kindness into the world is sure to spur more and more kindness, which could eventually make its way back to you!
- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
by John Steptoe
The tale of Mufaro's two daughters, two beautiful girls who react in different ways to the king's search for a wife - one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king takes on disguises to learn the true nature of both girls andof course chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen.
- Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
From bestselling and award-winning author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen comes Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller.
A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in this stunning picture book. With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.
Chapter Books that Promote Kindness
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Review: "Take one disarmingly engaging protagonist and put her in the company of a tenderly rendered canine and you've got yourself a recipe for the best kind of down-home literary treat. Kate DiCamillo's voice in Because of Winn-Dixie should carry from the steamy, sultry pockets of Florida clear across the miles to enchant young readers everywhere." — Karen Hesse, author of the Newbery-award winner Out of the Dust
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is "never going to stand by and say nothing again." This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter. E. B. White's Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. It contains illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E. B. White's Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, among many other books.
- Hallmark Stories of Caring: Secret Kindness Agents (Karolyn Roby’s students at Skinner Magnet School in Omaha)
Watch as Karolyn, an elementary school teacher, turns students into “Secret Kindness Agents” to help teach the next generation about the power of small and big gestures of kindness.
- “The Secret Kindness Agents” TEDxOmaha, Dr. Ferial Pearson
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Does power come from managing fear? Ferial Pearson and her high school students faced down their own fears with experiments in kindness.
Lesson Plans and Activities
- The School Counselor Kind: Cotton vs. Sandpaper Words
This lesson uses concrete objects like cotton and sandpaper to help make the concept of kind and unkind words feel more real to my students. I use it K-2 mostly, but it could be adapted for older grades.
- Kid Activities: 28 Random Acts of Kindness
Check out these 28 random acts of kindness for kids! These kindness ideas will help your kids learn to be kind and generous.
- Family Maven: 55+ Kindness Activities for Kids
We love using these fun and playful kindness activities to teach our kids. It’s so important to begin teaching them about being kind to others and how little things can make a big difference.
What is great about these kindness activities, is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do something nice. We love these ideas!
Websites and More
- Born This Way Foundation
Lady Gaga says that, “In order to heal you have to feel.” So she and her mother Cynthia, founded Born This Way Foundation. We’re committed to supporting young people and empowering them to create a kinder, braver world.
- Born This Way Foundation/Secret Agents of Kindness
We are excited to share a blog by one of our very own researchers, Katie Mosher. A group of insightful fifth graders inspired Katie to share just how easy it is for young people to spread kindness. As teachers and students around the country wrap up this school year, we encourage you to start thinking about next year. How can you create a kinder, more inclusive classroom?
- Teaching Tolerance Magazine/Secret Agents of Kindness
A teacher gave students a simple task: Be kind, but selfless. The results illustrate the contagious effects of humanity.
- Playful Learning: Resources for Teaching Kindness
Kindness. It’s truly one of the simplest ways to connect with one another. It can be exchanged through a smile, a wave, a handwritten note, or a hug. Kindness doesn’t need to cost anything, and it doesn’t have to be extravagant.
- Great Expectations: Resources for Compassion
A sampling of the resource materials that may be used to identify and evaluate the use of the life principle.