SPARKLERS / Gratitude

Bunches of Aroha

Expressing gratitude and giving back through special surprises.
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He aha ai? – Why we love it

The benefits of giving and showing kindness are endless.

When we take notice of and recognise the people around us, research shows we feel good, experience more positive emotions and even have stronger immune systems.

This activity gives students the chance to recognise others and experience how rewarding special bursts of kindness can be.

Kōrero

After you’ve completed our Everyday kindness and/or Sneaky thank you card activities, discuss the idea of 'random acts of kindness' and surprising someone at school or in your local community.

Start by brainstorming who might deserve a special thank you or surprise.

  • Is there someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes (e.g. an office person, cleaner, grounds person or librarian)?
  • Or someone who’s recently had a tough time?
  • What about a hard-working charity?
  • Or an awesome youth centre, library, marae, community garden or skatepark, etc.

Hei mahi - What to do

Work together to choose your first recipient (reassure students that there’ll be potential to repeat the activity throughout the year).

Discuss how different people like different things and that the best acts of kindness are things the person might like or appreciate.

What might your chosen person/group enjoy best? You could:

  • make them a Compliment poster
  • bring homemade bread, muffins or fudge
  • make thank you cards (or a poster)
  • clean their car and leave a note under the windscreen wiper
  • write a heartfelt letter
  • surprise them with some flowers
  • create a gift basket
  • get them a voucher to a local café
  • make a special voucher with something you’ll do for them
  • do a big job for them (i.e. a voluntary rubbish collection)
  • perform a special song or waiata.

Discuss keeping the act a surprise and support students to organise and carry it out. Early on, create opportunities for tamariki to see the person’s surprise or reaction (i.e. invite them to your class under the guise of something else).

After each burst, give students the chance to reflect. What worked well? What was difficult? What might they do differently? How did the action make them feel?

The science of kindness and giving

Tamariki may be interested in why kindness and the act of 'giving' (sharing our time, skills or our presence) is good for us. And it's really interesting that it is!

Basically it's one fo the things that is a true indicator that humans are social beings - we are supposed to work in groups, be part of whānau, have friends... When we're kind to others, it actually releases a hormone called oxytocin which is all about feeling warmth towards others and connection!

So, being kind and giving are always great things to do.

NB: we did think hard about oxytocin as an enquiry learning topic, but oxytocin is also often referred to as 'the love drug.' So we aren't recommending sending curious tamariki off on that mini mission with Google!

This is a great source for additional information.

What next?

Praise students for their efforts and tell them what it means for you as their teacher. You may like to get a photo of the person with their surprise and create a kindness wall in your classroom.

And let us know how you get on! We’d love to send a letter of thanks to you and your students and hear about your kindness activities.

Check out this awesome Sparklers at home resource How to help kids be grateful and kind and other at home activities:

Ngā mihi

To Libby Overend, Sintayhu Alemu and Bonnie Li who extended this mahi for us as part of their HLED122 paper at University of Canterbury.

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