Be Kind

erase meanness


Spring is coming!! Yay! Flowers, longer days, warmer weather, and mean kids. It never fails, as the earth revolves toward that vernal equinox something changes in those 5th grade kiddos. I don't know if it has to do with them being cooped up during the winter months, too many indoor recesses, or their raging hormones. Whatever the cause, I begin to hear unkind words as the snow melts and the trees begin to bloom.

Day 1: A Clean Slate

The day began like any other Monday, except both fifth grades were gathered in my room. The students were busy coloring a mindfulness Kindness page. They were happily working as they observed their teachers cleaning the whiteboard. And I mean CLEAN-ING. All the magnets, cute signs, homework, writing... every single thing was removed! We even broke out the expensive Expo Whiteboard Cleaner and REAL paper towels. The mood was set. They were all so curious, whispering and pointing.

We watched 2 videos depicting how easily words can hurt. The kids sat, speechless for once, listening to and reading words they have said or have had said to them. There were a few teary eyes and a bold confession by one boy who said, "I'm guilty of that". His sad eyes behind his cute glasses made my heart swell. I commended him for his bravery and honesty.

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Day 2: One Word


Written in red, dead center on that incredibly clean whiteboard. It was not easy to ignore as the fifth graders gathered together once again. We teachers each shared a story of mean kids we remembered from school. The remarkable thing was we could each recall the names of the kids who were mean to us some 20, 30 and 40 years ago!

We watched another short clip and ended the session with a discussion about meanness. What does it mean? How do we show it? How does it feel? We could see this little discussion starting to sink in.

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Day 3: Black and Blue

Jerk. You can't sit here. You suck. Ugly. Stupid. Loser.

Over 100 black and blue words surrounded meanness. These were words and phrases we heard our students say over the course of the year. They were hard to look at...all day long. The children were astounded by all the hurtful words they've said.

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Day 4: Toothpaste

Today's meeting started out with lots of laughs. Each group of kids was given a tube of toothpaste and they had to work together to squeeze all that toothpaste out of the tube. It was a fun, sticky mess. Each group was then given a spoon and told to get that toothpaste back in the tube in two minutes. As the timer wound down, the kids realized this was a near impossible feat.

When posed with the question "What does this toothpaste activity have to do hurtful words?", we heard several different responses. One little girl spoke up and said, "The toothpaste is like the unkind words spilling out of your mouth, once they are out there you can't get them back in, the hurting can't be stopped." Nailed It!

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Day 5: How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

The last day was finally here! We could now change all those mean words into kind words. The children couldn't wait to erase a black or blue word and add a colorful word to the board. We teachers loved the words they chose to write, simple words like love and pretty; beautiful phrases like Hey, wanna hang and come sit with us!

The picture below is by far my most favorite. I not only love the girls at the board, I love the two in the foreground, clearly thinking about the week we've shared.

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Be Kind

At the end of the lesson, each student received a BE KIND keychain. A simple, little token for their backpacks. Hopefully they will see it each morning as they put their things away and remember all we discussed. I hope they remember to BE KIND because they truly are!

Thank you to the folks at!

The moving videos we watched