Activity 1: A day or two in advance of this activity, prepare students by
telling them that they will be asked to share one positive thing about each
of their classmates. Have them take a few moments to look around at others
and think of what they might say. Let them know that it is okay if there
are a few students for whom they can’t think of anything. Ask them to spend
the next couple of days observing and getting to know these students better
so they can find something positive to say. This alleviates on-the-spot
pressure, and helps to keep students from the dreaded, “I can’t think of
On the day of the activity, arrange student desks or chairs in a circle
formation. Then distribute large sheets of white or yellow construction
paper and ask each student to write his/her name in large letters in the
center. Ask students to help you brainstorm on the board (or chart paper) a
list of compliments or comments that they might write about others. Some
examples may include: “Nice smile!” “Good worker!” “Wonderful friend!”
“Helpful,” “Caring,” “Funny,” etc. Tell students that they are going to
participate in an activity and that there are a few ground rules they will
need to follow:
1) No talking. Everyone will need time to think and concentrate during the
2) Write only positive comments.
3) Write large enough so the person can read it, but small enough so there
will be space for everyone.
As you give a signal, students will slide their paper to the right one
person. Give students between 30 seconds and one minute to write their
positive comments, and then give the signal for them to slide their papers
to the right again. You may want to do this about 10-15 times and then take
a stretching break so that students don’t get too restless. When your paper
comes back to you, the entire class has written on your sheet. Give
students a few minutes at this point to read and enjoy what others have
Hold a brief discussion by posing the following questions:
? How did you feel when you read through the comments on your sheet?
? Did any classmates notice things about you that made you feel good? What
? How do you think others felt about reading what you wrote?
? Do people like to be noticed and complimented by others?
? What are some things we can do on a daily basis in our classroom to let
others know we care about them?
? Can you think of some others at this school who might need more compassion
? What can you do to show those people you care?
Activity 2: Put students into groups of three or four and ask them to come
up with a list of ways they can show compassion in the following situations:
*at home with their families
*on the playground or in the cafeteria
*in their community
*to their teacher or other school personnel
*to their friends
*to other students in the classroom
Reconvene as a group and share answers on chart paper, board, or overhead.
Ask students to think honestly about which of these things they may already
do. Encourage them to challenge themselves to choose one way they can show
compassion to someone else in the next 24 hours. The next day, have a
follow-up discussion and ask students to share any ways they practiced
compassion and how it impacted them.
Activity 3: Choose a local nursing home, hospital, or shelter and have
students make cheerful cards, signs, books, or pictures to send for display
in these places. Lead a discussion about compassion and how these items
might impact someone else. Ask students to think about and share what they
think the people in these places are like, how they may have gotten there,
etc. If possible, it would be ideal to take students to one of these places
to read to people or share some other type of schoolwork. The benefits are
twofold: students learn about compassion, and others learn that there are
volunteers who care!
– Jen Wheeler, 4th grade teacher, Lomas Elementary,