First grade “Kindness Unit” teaches the spirit of giving

TAES first graders donated food, mittens and kind words to each other and their community

Acts of kindness spread throughout the halls of Tyrone Elementary School during the month of December thanks to the first grade “Kindness Unit.”

“The kindness unit is tied to the first grade social studies unit called ‘America the Beautiful’ where students discuss American symbols, geography, and citizenship,” said first grade teacher Sarah Lauder, “We learn about spreading kindness because we want students to have hands-on, real-life experiences learning how to be a good, productive citizens.”

I think its really important to teach kids at a young age that they need to give and that the world is a bigger place than just their little community and family, and that you can make a difference by doing small things”

— first grade teacher Sarah Lauder

The first grade teachers did a variety of things to promote kindness and the spirit of giving in their classrooms, including collecting mittens, writing kind notes and letters to others, and conducting a food drive.

Sarah Lauder’s first grade class organized a school wide food drive for their contribution to the Kindness Unit. About 225 students participated from Kindergarten to 4th grade. They collected 740 food items that were donated to the Tyrone Food Bank.

Lauder’s goal was to show students that giving is fun, and how helping others can make you feel good. She also hopes that this project will inspire students to make impact as they get older and continue to give.

“It makes me feel happy to give,” said one first grade student.

That type of reaction is exactly what Lauder wanted to see from her students. Having the students realize for themselves that giving is something that makes you feel good, makes Lauder hopeful that they will be caring citizens.

Other teachers also joined in the fun of giving.

Lisa Ingle’s class created a mitten tree. Students brought in mittens and used them to decorate a tree. After they were done collecting, the class donated the mittens to the Salvation Army.

First graders in Jessica Black’s class committed “random acts of kindness” for staff throughout the school and at home.

“I wrote my bus driver a letter thanking him for taking us to school every day,” said one of Black’s students.

Megan Myer’s first graders were “kindness elves.” Each day, Myer’s elves did something kind for someone in the class or the school building. One day students handed out candy canes to the teachers. Another day they gave freshly sharpened pencils to another first grade classroom. They even made posters thanking their special subject teachers.

Some teachers even tied pink flamingos into their kindness unit. First grade teachers Sarah Ciampoli and Renee Jamison used a fundraising technique called ‘’flocking’’ to inspire their unit. ‘’Flocking’’ involves placing multiple plastic pink flamingos in a targeted yard. The recipient must then donate to charity for the flock to be removed.

For the first graders, paper pink flamingos were planted around the student’s homes and school halls.  Instead of money, the children were asked to donate kind words. The flock was removed when kind words were written for them. The words were then brought back to the school and hung for everyone to see.

“I think its really important to teach kids at a young age that they need to give and that the world is a bigger place than just their little community and family,” said Lauder, “and that you can make a difference by doing small things.”