This is the time of year when being thankful and generous are near the forefront of people’s minds. Many want to give back for the blessings they themselves received during the past year. Whatever your reason, cultivating kindness in your classroom will help your students become compassionate in other areas of their lives as well. You can help encourage this behavior in your students with special service projects.
Compassion and kindness begin with a calm, clear mind. Before working on your projects, do some deep breathing exercises with your students. Encourage them to close their eyes as they breathe in deeply for five seconds, then breathe out for five seconds. Repeat five more times. ZENworks Yoga has videos that can help you with calming, mindful activities to get your students in the right mindset. Try our Mind in a Jar video at the very start of a project. You can also try a few sound exercises, such as the Mindful Listening video and Rainstick Listening video.
A few service project ideas:
Pre-K through 3rd Grade:
Toy collection for local hospital
Make cards for people who volunteer or work at the school (lunch monitors, crossing guards, etc)
Put together a puppet show or other performance and bring it to a local nursing home
Middle School (4th – 8th)
Pick up litter in a local park
Team up with a younger grade as a “reading buddy”
Grow a vegetable garden in your classroom
High School (9th – 12th)
Volunteer at a local food shelter
Take a field trip to an animal shelter and spend the day deep cleaning the entire facility
Start a clothing drive for your local homeless shelter
There’s no need to cram in a bunch of service projects now through Christmas – and that doesn’t teach your students to be compassionate all year. Perhaps choose one service project per month. You can use our ideas, or ask your students what they would like to do and hold a vote. Either way, have fun with it!