“Kindness makes you the most beautiful person in the world no matter what you look like.” ~ Unknown
For several weeks there has been a focus in my classroom on well-being, kindness, and what we like about ourselves. We have looked at books like Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and generated ideas about ways to be kind to others. When children have been ”caught in the act” of filling another’s bucket a note is written on a piece of paper shaped like a water drop, and added to the classroom bucket. Kindness, and the good feeling that comes with being kind is so very important for children to learn, for caring adults to reinforce as children internalize their understanding. Hopefully what we teach lays a positive foundation for how children learn to relate to and get along with people, and to move in the world ready to receive the positive energy they send out to others.
To reinforce these ideas, two creative projects have been part of the process of viewing ourselves with kindness and identifying something about ourselves that gives us a sense of pride, and fills us with well-being. We read the book The Best Part of Me by photographer Wendy Ewald and then black and white photographs were taken of assorted hands, feet, eyes, hair, faces, legs – whatever each child declared to be their favourite part. The children then wrote a sentence about this part, explaining how their feet could run fast, their hands could play with toys, their eyes could see colours, their faces had good feelings inside. Though many of the sentences spoke more to actions (like running) and activities (like drawing), some were very reflective and demonstrated a more sophisiticated understanding of inner worlds, and how this connects to how we perceive ourselves. The display of photographs is quite striking and invites children to make observations about the pictures, to ask questions about the writing, and to think more deeply about their own uniqueness.
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.” ~ Sophie Bush
For the second project, the children drew a self-portrait using a black Sharpie and vibrant watercolour paints. They signed their names with either a gold or silver marker. When this project began, I thought it would fun to put a positive spin on the WANTED poster, to represent ourselves as being “wanted” for a special skill, like drawing, or building. Then I got a great idea from a course I am taking on supporting writing skills in the classroom. We began to explore “sparkle” words (adjectives), to broaden our vocabulary of positive words such as excellent, amazing, impressive and remarkable. This became a wonderful opportunity to share and discuss words we knew already, to learn some new ones, and to ask questions about what the new words mean. As a final step, we created acrostic poems for each child’s name (another idea inspired by my course!). Children selected words from the lists of these new, positive sparkle words we have been learning, and the results were just beautiful. Hopefully this project has given children important tools they need for being kind to themselves, and also to others. After all, we are all WANTED, and:
We All Need Tenderness Every Day