Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

A Kindness Passion Project for Elementary School

This project integrates technology and SEL to show students that they can add kindness to their communities.

August 11, 2023
Maria-Carluccio / iSpot

Can acts of kindness make a difference in the lives of others? As an instructional technology coach, I have worked with fourth-grade teachers for the past seven years to transform abstract themes of empathy and compassion into concrete learning experiences. Using resources from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and the ISTE Standards for Students, we collaboratively plan social and emotional learning (SEL) experiences in the classroom.

We begin with students customizing a Kindness Journal to record their observations and reflections. Students write weekly about the kind acts they see, receive, or do and share these observations with classmates during morning meetings.

Picture books help to build background knowledge about empathy and compassion. Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts, is an excellent story to help readers make connections between wants versus needs. This story, along with videos created by Kid President to promote “Socktober,” inspire our students to design and implement a schoolwide sock drive benefiting those who are homeless. 

As students plan their sock drive, which includes mapping a timeline for implementation, designing marketing materials, and quantifying donations, they strengthen their skills as empowered learners, one of the seven ISTE Standards for Students.

Making connections: This experience helps our students realize the positive impact of their kindness. As we continue our focused lessons, we introduce additional concepts:

  • Kindness cultivator—someone who helps to grow kindness in another person
  • Kindness boomerang—when you do something kind and receive kindness in return, either from that person or someone else
  • Ripple effect of kindness—the invisible connection of kindness that begins with one person and continues on through multiple people 

Students listened to the story Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed, by Emily Pearson, and made sketchnotes in their Kindness Journals as they identified these concepts in the book. They were excited to visualize themselves in the book’s scenarios, realizing that they, too, could put good in the world!


Following our book discussion, we reveal exciting news: Students will create their own Kindness Passion Projects. After designing and implementing a kindness experience, students share their experiences through a digital presentation, both in person at a Kindness Share Fair and virtually with the world through a Google Sites website. 

Students glue a project planning sheet into their Kindness Journals to guide their project creation and then brainstorm recipients and actions they could complete.

In our district, we submitted a Creative Instructional Grant proposal to the Hanover Education Foundation, a local organization that creates community and business partnerships, requesting $10 for each student to design and implement their projects. Kindness Passion Projects, however, can easily be completed without cost using resources found at school or home.

Project development: Students research businesses, organizations, and other digital sites to build background knowledge about project recipients and additional resources. One student took her passion for being outdoors and researched opportunities to clean up areas around local lakes and ponds. Another student connected with Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service to accept the 50 Yard Challenge, mowing lawns for neighbors at no cost. Other students learned they could write letters to residents at a local retirement community.

For our funded projects, we had students research the cost of the items they would need to construct fruit or treat baskets. Others made lists of the supplies they would need for activities like running a free car wash. 

This time of project development encourages students to become knowledge constructors, innovative designers, and computational thinkers, using the ISTE Standards for student-driven learning and success.

We encourage students to use their project planning page to record additional details about their projects, focused on these six key elements:

  • Title
  • Purpose
  • Materials
  • Procedure
  • Results
  • Reflection

Students also take part in a Kindness Conference with their teacher to discuss their projects in depth. We send home communication to families about their child’s project, which includes asking parents for help with implementation, asking them to provide permission for students’ names and images to be shown in digital projects, and asking them to take pictures of the projects.

Presentation preparation: Students create a Google Slides presentation that includes one slide for each of the six key elements. Each week, we provide mini-lessons on digital customization, such as using a theme, selecting the appropriate font type and size, and importing royalty-free images from Pixabay or our Google Drive folder containing pictures of the projects. We also emphasize the rights and responsibilities that students have as they strengthen their digital citizenship skills, another ISTE Standard of focus for our projects. One student wrote, “You could feel the kindness trifecta rolling off of me. It was probably the best day of my life!”

Kindness Share Fair: To celebrate all the kind acts completed, we host a Kindness Share Fair in our cafeteria. Using Chromebooks to display their presentations, students practice their oral communication skills, sharing their projects with families, community members, and organization representatives. 

Guests are invited to add sticky notes to our “Call to Action” board, sharing how the students’ Kindness Passion Projects inspire them to put good into the world themselves. This is a great way for students to see the ripple effect of their kindness!

Global impact: We upload the student presentations to a Google Sites website that we share in the event program and on social media sites. This allows our students’ projects to be viewed by a global audience. Some projects have a far-reaching effect, like that of the student who wanted to teach her classmates the alphabet in sign language; it bloomed into a garden of kindness, resulting in a weekly video playlist teaching common sign language phrases to others.

To date, we have 239 Kindness Passion Projects on our website, inspiring the world—we’re planting seeds of empathy, compassion, and advocacy so that students can make a positive impact on others. Implementing Kindness Passion Projects is a great way to shine a light on the good that students create.

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Filed Under

  • Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Technology Integration
  • K-2 Primary
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

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