SPARKLERS / Kindness & friendship

Being A First-Rate Mate!

A habits activity to help Year 7 and 8 tamariki build empathy and learn new friendship skills
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand the qualities of friendships and ways to strengthen these connections.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Connecting with others is a fundamental human need – we all need people in our lives we care about, and who care about us too. When we feel connected to others it makes us, and the people we connect to, feel good.

Tikanga tips

Māori tamariki may refer to ‘friends’ as sisters, brothers or whānau. The names don’t matter at all – this activity can include family and whānau relationships based on aroha, manaakitanga and tautoko.

Tāngia ēnei tohutohu – Print me

For this activity you’ll need to some of our Habit Sticks, so students can use them to practice and develop new friendship skills.

You'll also need to print a Being A First Rate Mate worksheet for each tamariki.


Discuss what encourages friendships.

  • How do we make friends? What can help?
  • What sorts of things help us look after and strengthen friendships?
  • What sorts of things can damage a friendship?

Thinking about how we can be a good friend can help us be an even better one. Like most things in life, friendship is something we learn as we go and we're not ‘stuck’ as we are now. We can all be better friends!

This doesn’t mean we need to change traits that are likeable e.g. if we’re funny, we can keep being funny, as people love this. But if we use humour to laugh at others expense, this might be something we want to work on.

Hei mahi - What to do: Worksheet

Give out the Being A First Rate Mate worksheet and ask students to write a few ideas for each of the four core areas.

Regroup and invite students to share some of their ideas, before moving onto part two, where tamariki will have the opportunity to form a new friendship habit.

Hei mahi - What to do: Habit Sticker

Let tamariki know that they'll have the chance to choose a friendship habit to work on using a Habit Stick.

Why are habits powerful? Forming a habit can help something that initially takes effort, become easier. At first we have to think about it, but before long, we start doing it without thinking. It becomes automatic.

We can form habits to help us achieve goals, and also to connect with people in happy, positive ways. Explain that today they’ll get to choose a friendship or ‘connecting’ habit they’d like to develop.

Talk about what makes a good habit. It’s useful to:

  • focus on one habit at a time
  • go specific, small and manageable, e.g. if you want to...
    • be friendly, your habit could be to say warm hellos and goodbyes.
    • be more easy-going, your habit might be to say “Yes!” to friends' ideas.
    • spread kindness, you could say a compliment or kind word every day.
  • opt for something positive... e.g. choose something you want to do rather than something you want to stop doing (so rather than ‘stop being bossy’ you’d say: ‘Listen and let others make decisions too’).

Give students time to come up with their habit, then ask them to share it with a buddy and check it's: easy, specific and something they want to do (not stop doing).

Once they're happy, give them a Habit Sticker, ask them to write the habit on their sticker and stick it somewhere they'll see it often, e.g. on the front of an exercise book or on their device, so it acts as a reminder.

Encourage them to add a tick each time they complete their habit.

Keep checking in on these – perhaps daily a day for the week – and praise their efforts. New habits can be developed at anytime of the year (or our lives)!

What next?

Sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves. We can be critical of our appearance and abilities in a way that we wouldn't be to someone else.

Explore this with tamariki by asking:

  • How can we be kinder to ourselves? (self-compassion)
  • What are the worst things we can tell ourselves when we're confused or mess up. Would we say these things to a friend?
  • What are positive things we can tell ourselves instead?
  • If we feel ourselves becoming self-critical, what can we do to shake it off?!

There are great benefits to being kinder to ourselves and being willing to accept mistakes – just as we would to a friend.

You may like to try self compassion meditation exercises with tamariki.

This is also a Sparklers at home activity, check it out! Being a First Rate Mate!

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