As part of our study of Georgia government we focus on rights and responsibilities of citizens. I try to help my students understand that for every freedom that is protected we also have an obligation to act responsibly. We spent some time brainstorming responsibilities and characteristics of good citizens. Students were also asked to get input from their parents. In addition to things like voting, staying informed about important issues, paying taxes, and jury duty, many students reported back that volunteering, helping their neighbor, and donating to local charitable organizations were important responsibilities of good citizens. Unlike paying taxes, the ideas of giving back and helping those in need are a little easier for students to understand and to put into action themselves.
|A sign to thank our janitors for their hard work.|
|Finishing touches are added to a sign for our cafeteria staff.|
|"Be the person that starts a kindness trail!"|
Students created and scattered messages of kindness,
happiness, & love throughout the hallways at G.E.M.S.
"What I liked about making hearts is that we had to stick them on the walls and when we put them on the walls I felt happy to do that because I learned to spread kindness to people." - Emma R.
After our brainstorming session, and a democratic voting process, we had total buy-in from the class and we decided that we would focus on our G.E.M.S. community. Students wanted to recognize our janitors and cafeteria staff for their hard work day in and day out. They decided to give back by jumping in to help them with their job for a day. They also decided on a kindness project. Each student would create hearts with inspiring messages of kindness that we would scatter around the hallways at school.
|Students work on compliment hearts for a classmate on Valentine's morning.|
The afternoon before Valentine's we collected all of our kindness hearts and set out to decorate the halls. Students were beaming with pride and excitement as they splashed messages of kindness around the school. They were tickled to think what people would be thinking when they saw them.
On Valentine's Day each student volunteered 20-30 minutes of their time. Some wiped down tables during lunch. Some went to Mrs. Rowell's kindergarten classroom to support students during literacy work time. Some collected trash for the janitors at the end of the day. A few students even sacrificed their recess and P.E. time to complete their volunteer opportunity.
"Being kind made me feel really good inside, Valentine's is one of my favorite holidays of the year." -Marah M.
My hopes are that our hearts put a smile on someone's face, our janitors and cafeteria staff felt appreciated, and all students got a glimmer of satisfaction from giving to others. This may just become a tradition. One student's typo has even inspired a new name for this day...Valinteering Day. Perfection!
"Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear
and the blind can see." - Mark Twain