Thursday, September 6, 2018

Kindness and kids.

We recently finished our unit on kindness for "school," which we had started before we went on our summer vacation.

When I thought about this past year and Everett's "homeschool" experience coming to an end, I thought, what do I really want Everett to know? We have had tons of fun learning about underwater animals, snow, polar bears, dinosaurs, bugs, and magic school buses going to the moon. Mostly, our homeschool experience this past year has been led by things Everett loves or wants to learn about and we have gone from there. It has been a lot of fun for all of us. But, I decided that for our final unit together before he started preschool this week, I would choose the topic, and I think it is the most important thing to me when it comes to parenthood and raising my kids: kindness. When I think about sending Everett out into the world and off to school, I worry like a normal mother, but what I hope for him to offer up to the world as he slowly ventures out into it is kindness.

Books we checked out from the library:
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Last Stop on Market Street
Because Amelia Smiled
Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace
Baby Be Kind (board book for Cambria)
If You Plant a Seed
Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed
Little Bird
Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler!

Books we bought, because we couldn't get them from the library, and I don't mind owning books about kindness that we can read over and over again:
The Spiffiest Giant in Town
Be Kind
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
Pass It On
What Does It Mean to Be Kind?

Confession: I cried in three of these books, although that might say more about me than the books.

Steps for kindness unit:
Step 1) Read all the kindness books. Sometimes, cry as you read, because books about kindness are good.
Step 2) As we read each book, we added to our list of "Ways we can be kind." After we finished each book, Everett told me what to write to add to our list based on what he learned from the story. Don't forget to decorate the list.

Step 3) Kindness rocks
Everett and Cambria colored on the rocks with paint pens, and then we talked about what we could write on the rocks to spread kindness and encourage people to be kind. It took us a lot longer to create the rocks than I anticipated. Finally, when we were finished, we made a sign and spread the kindness rocks out along the fence that borders our front yard for people to see and take. This was my favorite activity we have ever done. We met people who live on our block we never had before, and one girl even made Everett a kindness rock in return.

Got to love that no clothes, one shoe look:

Proud of their final rocks:

Step 4) Kindness puppet show and field trip
Everett asked if we could make puppets and do a puppet show about kindness, which led to a field trip to the puppet theater in Balboa Park to gain some inspiration. Everett designed the puppets. He wanted to use markers, googly eyes, a red fuzzy ball for a nose, and he wanted his puppet to have long hair, so we looked through our supplies, and he chose balloons to make the hair. Cambria, in true Cambria fashion, just did whatever Everett did. He performed his puppet show for Matt and me. In true Everett form, it involved a T-Rex.

Step 5) Kindness checklist:
Based on all of the things on Everett's list about "ways to be kind" and based on what we read in the books, Everett created a list of what he wanted to do to spread kindness, and one by one we worked to check them off. It included making art for our mailman, bringing balloons to a few friends, sending something in the mail to brighten someone's day, making art for a neighbor, buying popsicles for a neighbor, putting out the kindness rocks to share with the neighborhood, and making art for Daddy to take to work. Once Everett completed everything on the checklist, we had a family ice cream cone party to celebrate. 

Cambria checking off items from the kindness checklist:
For Mikey the mailman:
Excited about bringing balloons to a few friends, and getting to keep a couple for themselves:

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