Monday, January 24, marked the beginning of the week-long Great Kindness Challenge, a national initiative centered around a checklist of 50 kind acts for students to complete. The checklist includes items like, say “good morning” to 15 people, pick up trash around your school, and make a kind poster for cafeteria helpers.  

Twp children holding handmade thank you cards

The children were encouraged to write thank you notes to people who help them at school and in the community.

“My favorite thing was to give an apple or a note to my teacher,” said Plymouth Elementary School (PE) third grader Alexandrea Vazquez-Martinez. “My teacher is nice and sweet, and I just love her. I wanted to show her that she is the best teacher.” 

“My favorite item was inviting a new friend to play with me,” said Chase Purcell, also a PE third grader. “It was great to have someone new to become friends with and share our opinions. We played kickball, and we had a great time!”

At PE, second and third graders made kindness stations students could visit to help their peers check items off their lists. 

“We loved the stations, because we had the choice to pick what we wanted,” explained PE second graders Eldho Geevarghese and Dakshan Balaji. “Our favorite station was making a kindness poster, because we are great at drawing together and giving each other compliments.”

While many of the items on the list reflected kind things to do for other people, some of the items focused on being kind to yourself, such as say three things you like about yourself and pat yourself on the back.

two children holding drawings

At one of the kindness stations, children could make entries for a poster competition.

“One thing that I thought was surprising was being on time for school,” said student Avery Costello. “I didn’t realize that I was really being kind to my teacher and to myself. It is kind to her, because she shouldn’t have to be waiting for me and holding the other kids up from learning what they are supposed to be learning. It is kind to me, so that I don’t miss things I should learn.” 

While the first through third graders have the full list of 50 items to complete, the kindergarteners only have 12 items. However, once the children begin completing the items, it quickly becomes more than putting a checkmark in a box. 

“I love the excitement the students have when they complete a challenge,” said PE Social Emotional Learning teacher Laura Grimshaw. “It is rewarding to see them become more motivated to continue spreading kindness, rather than being the first to check everything off of the list. Students start to see that they do many of these acts each day without even realizing the positive impact they have in someone else’s life.”

Five children holding kindness posters in front of a wall of handmade posters