World-Changing Kids has started doing monthly Kindness in the Classroom Workshops at St. Anthony Catholic School. These Kindness Workshops are based on our book, Plant a Garden of Kindness, A Child’s Guide To Filling a Year with Weekly Acts of Kindness.
On October 23rd, at our first Kindness Workshop, the children made Kindness Cards for their van drivers. We started off the workshop by talking about why it is important to thank people. One of the great points raised by their fantastic teacher, Ms. Rupnik, was that the kids make thank you cards for their van drivers at the end of the school year, but the fact that we were making them on October 23rd, for no particular reason, was almost more special because the drivers will not be expecting it. She explained that it was important to be thankful and kind all year long, not just on the special days like Thanksgiving.
We then asked the kids to give us some reasons for why they were thankful that their van drivers take them to school and bring them home. One child had the most wonderful answer – “Because my legs would be really tired if I had to walk all the way home.”
Then we got to work on the cards.
Each child was to write “Thank you for driving me!” at a minimum, and then they could add whatever else they wanted.
One of my favourite additions was, “Thank you for giving me a booster seat so that I can tell you where you are going.”
The children then drew pictures of whatever they felt inspired to draw. Quite a few of them drew their van and the road, with stop signs and streetlights. Some drew rainbows and hearts and happy faces.
There was one little boy in particular who really made an impression on me. Ms. Rupnik had told me that he is working hard on staying focused and completing work independently. Well, it turns out that he was really engaged with this project. He filled every piece of available space on his card. He drew a whole map of the city on the inside of his card for his van to drive on. And on the back he made what he called, “Happy Letters”. He would draw the letter “P”, for example, and then add some eyes and a mustache and a hat – so that you could not really tell that it was a “P” any more. And he put these letters all over the back of the card. Not in any particular order, just as he felt was right. And he was so excited to show me each letter he drew. I asked him if I could write “Happy Letters” at the top corner of the page so that his driver would know what he was looking at. This boy thought that was a great idea – I think having an official title to his work made him feel special.
While this boy was especially engaged in the project, every child put a lot of effort into their card. I think that they had this high level of engagement because they knew that this project really mattered. They knew that they were going to give these cards to their van drivers and make their day a bit brighter. This project had real life results that they were going to be able to see and feel when they gave their cards to the drivers, which I was able to be there for!
The kids get picked up by three separate vans. Each child took a turn climbing into the van and stopping at the front to give the card to their driver. They each thanked their driver for taking them to and from school. The drivers were very touched by this act of kindness. One of the drivers, Maria, said that she was going to take these cards home and put them on display on her table. It was such an amazing experience.
You could see the children beaming as their drivers thanked them for the beautiful cards. The children got to experience first hand the happy feeling that comes from doing an act of kindness for someone else. Hopefully the positive reinforcement they received from this act of kindness will encourage them think of ways to perform more acts of kindness! I hope that by working with them monthly from now until the end of the school year, we can really create a foundation of gratitude and empathy that they will carry on for the rest of their lives.
Stay tuned for next month’s Kindness Workshop!