Kindness and Friendship Activities for the Elementary Classroom

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Like most holidays, I love celebrating with my students in the classroom. There’s something so genuine and exciting about seeing holidays through the eyes of kids. Celebrating Valentine’s Day in February is no different. Instead of the traditional Valentine’s Day focus on romantic love, we focus on the beauty of friendship. In my classroom, February has become a month for celebrating friends, kindness, and the gift of friendship. Come take a peek at some of the friendship activities you’ll find us doing all month long.

This photo shows a group of elementary age students with the words "Kindness & Friendship Activities for the Elementary Classroom."

1. Read Alouds About Friendship and Kindness

One of my favorite activities that I incorporate in my classroom is read aloud books. Truth be told, it’s one of my favorite times of each day. Each month I enjoy choosing the books that teach that season’s values. In February, my favorite books revolve around the values of friendship and kindness.

When you read a book aloud, it is almost guaranteed to be a fun, engaging, and interactive experience, especially in kinder! It’s the perfect time to model what good reading fluency looks and sounds like. It’s also a great time to show how readers think when they read. And last, but definitely not least, it’s a chance for our students to fall in love with the adventures that reading a good book can take you on.

This image features read alouds that go perfectly with kindness and friendship activities including "Enemy Pie", "A Friend for Henry", "Stick and Stone", and "Strictly No Elephants."

My Favorite Friendship Books

In February, I have some definite go-to read alouds. A few of my favorites that focus on the theme of friendship include:

Diving into the theme of Friendship

Read alouds are always the talk of the classroom. Students love sharing their favorite parts, what the story reminds them of, and what they learned. That’s why I like to incorporate fun and engaging friendship activities into my read aloud time in February.

After reading one (or two) of the books above, I talk to my students about what they have learned from the story. When the discussion turns to valuing others, friendship, the importance of kindness, and love, I know we are ready for the next activity!

2. Friendship Bookmarks

At this point, I will hand out strips of white construction paper and tell my students we are going to make bookmarks. The bookmarks are “Friendship Bookmarks” and will reflect the themes and lessons we have learned about friendship. My students always love this activity because they get to tap into their creativity to create their bookmarks.

This image shows a variety of paper bookmarks and colored pencils scattered on a school desk. Bookmarks like these can be used in your classroom friendship activities.

Once the bookmarks are complete, I like to laminate them and add a ribbon to the top. We do a random exchange of the Friendship Bookmarks in our class. Students love sharing the story behind their bookmarks with the recipient.

You can also do Friendship Bookmarks on a larger scale. Simply make color copies, cut them out, and share them with the school. This promotes a sense of love and friendship throughout our school community and my students always love seeing other kids using their bookmarks! Students of all ages love receiving a Friendship Bookmark.

3. Build a Friendship Tree

This is a great classroom activity to complete in February with your friendship read alouds. Its focus is to give students a chance to put a spotlight on acts of friendship that they see around them.

In this photo, a student is cutting out a red heart shaped piece of paper.

To create the friendship tree, make a bare tree (no leaves) and display it in your classroom. Create some paper leaves that will adorn the tree. I have found that die cut hearts folded in half make great leaves. I love to use red, pink, light purple, and light blue to give the tree a festive feel.

Throughout the month students will write ways they see others being a good friend. This is a great activity to help them learn what friendship looks like. Once a leaf has been written on, add it to the tree. I like to collect all the leaves, and then save a few minutes at the end of each day to read them aloud and add them to the tree.

It is so much fun watching the bare tree turn into a full display of friendship during the month.

4. Crafty Friendship Activities

Working together on crafts is a great way to build classroom relationships. When working together on something “fun” the social walls come down and students make connections that don’t happen in other settings. Crafting with others builds positive relationships and helps students build and improve social skills.

Here are a few simple craft ideas that work well in the classroom. And. . . there is no need for special supplies. These crafts can be created using common materials you can easily find.

Painting kindness or friendship rocks is a great way to spread the love.

Friendship Bracelets

Create friendship bracelets using a variety of materials. For younger students, you may be stringing noodles or cereal. As students get older, they can make bracelets using plastic beads. You can choose the colorful beads, the beads with letters, or a combination of both. Students can then share with other kids around the school, classmates, or family members.

Friendship Rocks

Friendship rocks are one of my favorite activities. All you need are some smooth, small rocks and some paint. Let your students paint them with fun designs and “hide” them around the school and playground for others to find.

5. Create a Friendship Quilt

In the quilting world, a Friendship Quilt is a common type of quilt. It is a quilt that is made of one repeating pattern by a group of friends. They were often given as gifts as a family would leave a community. The friendship quilt gave them something to remember their friends by. We can take this idea and use it to create a classroom friendship quilt.

Friendship Quilt Part 1 – The Pattern

This graphic shows the steps needed to make a paper friendship quilt with students. First, students will decorate a shape like a heart. In step 2, students will cut their shape into 4 pieces and then trade 3 of their pieces with friends. In the 4th step, students will assemble all 4 pieces into a paper quilt block.

To begin choose a simple pattern that students will be able to create. A heart, star, or circle works well because kids of all ages can create these shapes. Each student will need a paper quilt square that is a 6-inch by 6-inch square. With this size, you can get 2 squares out of a single piece of construction paper.

Have each student decorate their quilt square using the pattern you have selected. Tell students that they can decorate their quilt square any way they would like as long as the pattern is in the middle of the square. Students can use crayons, markers, paint, chalk, or any other supplies you have on hand to decorate their pattern.

Friendship Quilt Part 2 – The Final Quilt Squares

This photo shows an example of a completed friendship quilt. In this quilt, students used a heart template to complete the friendship activity.

Collect all of the completed squares and get ready for the “twist” on this friendship quilt. You are going to cut each square into four smaller squares. Each student will keep one of their own squares and then receive 3 squares from other students. You can number the squares (1 for top left, 2 for top right, 3 for bottom left, 4 for bottom right) or do an organized trade where everyone exchanges the same piece at the same time. Without this, students won’t be able to recreate the pattern.

Once they have their new pieces, they will put their square back together, recreating the pattern. Give each student a 9-inch by 9-inch square of construction paper to glue their pieces onto. This will be their final quilt square and should provide a solid color border around the edges. Each square is now a unique creation made by friends.

Connect all of the 9×9 squares together to create your class friendship quilt.

6. Go Crazy with Random Acts of Kindness

Kindness and friendship activities go hand in hand. So taking some time to focus on performing random acts of kindness is a great activity when you are teaching about or focusing on friendship.

This image shows 3 girls hugging at school.

Random acts of kindness are a great way to get your students to be intentional about showing kindness to others. Before beginning, it is a good idea to have a class discussion about kindness and acts of kindness. One of the things I like to discuss is that kindness doesn’t always get a thank you. When we do something kind for someone we are doing it FOR them, not so that we can receive recognition. I love to finish the discussion by having the students help make a list of different things that can be done for others that show kindness.

Free Kindness Challenge

Then it’s time to challenge students to complete one or more acts of kindness each day. You can have one act of kindness that the entire class focuses on each day or let each student choose their own act of kindness. Whatever you choose, make sure to build in time for students to share what they did or acts of kindness they witnessed.

Random Act of Kindness Day is February 17. You can plan a special activity for that day or challenge your students to complete a kindness challenge every day for a week, through the month of February, or for a longer period of time. It is a great way to bring kindness to the forefront.

Ready to do a kindness challenge in your classroom? I’ve got just what you need! This Kindness Challenge will challenge your kids to fill a bubble gum machine with acts of kindness. You can complete the activity as a class or give each student their own.

This free resource includes 30 acts of kindness that were specifically chosen for kids to complete. As they do an act, they cut it out and add it to their bubble gum machine kindness tracker. This download includes 3 versions (primary colors, pastel colors, and a black & white version). There is also a sheet of blank gumballs so students can choose their own acts of kindness.

Save these Kindness and Friendship Activities for Later!

Save all of these kindness and friendship activities by adding this pin to your favorite classroom Pinterest board.

This image features the text, "6 Kindness & Friendship Activities for Kids" and a photo of an school age student cutting out a red paper heart.

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