The "Be Kind Kids" Project
The purpose of this group project is to celebrate the uniqueness in children and help them to realize similarities by using a visual display that will highlight friendship and kindness together with images of children that might need a friend.
We use this poem in our anti-bullying program and encourage schools to use the project to emphasize it's positive message. Although the poem and project are simplistic in nature, the results are vivid. Children take pride in creating the display and it serves as a reminder to the emotions and empathy invoked when discussing kindness, friendship, and understanding.
Bullying is a first step to prejudice. Name-calling, taunting, and harassment at a basic level might focus on generalizations, but as the bullying behavior is fueled, it quickly spreads to derogatory statements about race, color, and creed, often mimicking words heard in the home or media.
The "group" can consist of a single classroom, an entire grade, or even the entire school.
It is suggested this project be placed in a highly visible an area where bullying frequently occurs, such as the hallways or cafeteria.
The first stage of the assignment is completed at the classroom level:
1) Read and discuss the Be Kind poem.
Be kind to others,
take a good look around,
although we are different,
Try not to judge, pick on, or tease,
treat each other fairly,
with kindness and ease.
Wait until you know
what's deep down inside,
you might find a friend
standing right by your side.
-Patricia Gatto ฉ2004
2) Instruct students to collect four (4) pictures from magazines, clip art, or personal photographs.
2 pictures will illustrate kindness and friend, and
2 pictures will illustrate children needing friendship.
3) Instruct students to write their name in an artistic style (block, balloon, graffiti) on a 5 x 7 piece of paper, decorate it, and cut it out.
4) Instruct the students to create positive words or phrases such as "kindness", "friendship, or "Don't be a bully!" in the same manner.
5) Prepare the poem on a large poster board or banner. A teacher or a group of children can prepare this. Note: this poem looks wonderful with different handwriting and a variety of colors--again, it symbolizes uniqueness, yet emphasizes togetherness.
6) Trace and cut out the words "The Be Kind Kids Project".
If possible, the second stage of this project should be moved to the cafeteria or hallway and presented as a ceremony.
The ceremony can be as simple or as involved as time and circumstances allow. If you use the cafeteria, children can sit at the tables, enjoying a snack, while waiting their turn. And the teacher might be able to use a microphone to address the students. When we have time at the end of our presentations, we allow students to come up to our microphones, and they love it.
7) Hang the poem in the center of the display.
8) Place the letters spelling our "The Be Kind Kids Project" in an arch around the poem.
(Items 7 & 8 can be completed ahead of time if necessary)
9) One by one, call on the students and have them step up to the display and add their images and words in a sporadic, collage manner.
10) As they do this, ask a few pointed questions about the words and images they selected. If using a microphone, children will step up to the mic to answer.
What characteristics/feelings are illustrated in your picture? (Kindness, friendship, giving, happiness, loneliness, sadness, etc).
What do you think the children in your pictures have in common with you?
Why do you think the boy/girl in the picture would be a good friend, or why do you think they need a friend?
What games, television shows, or music do you think these children would enjoy and why?
Where do you think this child lives?
11) Take pictures to document the event.
12) Have the next class come in and add their pictures to the display, building on the first class, until complete.
If you decide to take on this project in your school, please take pictures and send them to me. I will follow up with an interview and submit it to local newspapers and ezines covering your event. In addition, I will add a link/or pictures to my website featuring your school. Also, share the project with parents by placing the results of the activity in your school's newsletter.
I also have a number of other projects and activities focusing on anti-bullying and friendship themes that I will be happy to share. Please contact me through my website.
About the Author:
Patricia Gatto, together with her husband, John De Angelis are the authors of MILTON'S DILEMMA, a 32-page children's book. Richly illustrated by Kenneth Vincent, this is the tale of a lonely boy and his struggles with the school bullies. With the help of a mischievous gnome, young Milton embarks on a magical journey to friendship and self-acceptance.
MILTON'S DILEMMA addresses the issues in an entertaining, yet thought-provoking manner. The authors present their story at schools, libraries, and community events in an effort to help children identify and cope with the negative and aggressive behavior of bullying. Their goal is to foster awareness and provide children with an understanding of their rights to a safe and healthy learning environment.
Inspired by John's personal childhood experience, this husband and wife writing team share their message with an animated and entertaining reading from their book, original songs, and practical advice. In addition, the program provides a platform for educators to build and enforce anti-bullying policies throughout the year as they encourage children to come forward and report incidents of bullying.
Their personal goals include using film and printed media as a means to present a positive, educational, non-violent format for families and especially children.