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Contagious Kindness in First Grade

By: First Grade Teachers Julie Smith and Elizabeth Zurlinden

January 12, 2016

Just this week we noticed one of our first graders writing a "get well" note to a friend who was sick at home. Nobody asked him to write the card, it was simply his own concern for his friend that prompted his act of kindness. Just as many say, “kindness is contagious,” his small, sweet gesture gave another friend the impulse to write a similar note. Oh, the ripples of compassion!

Throughout our day we catch many glimpses of kindness in action: sharing sharpened pencils when a friend’s lead breaks, offers to push a friend on the swings, tying a friend’s shoelaces, and patiently pausing while a friend sounds out a tough word in reading group. We see the “Rossman Rule” of kindness within the walls of our classroom, so we are excited to see our students channel that compassionate spirit to serve others in need in our community.

This week as we honor Martin Luther King, we think of his challenging, honest words regarding service: “Life’s most persistent and nagging question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Our first graders will be putting a plan in motion to answer that question. And we’ll tackle more questions about hunger and poverty and homelessness. Even at a young age, our students will have big ideas and generous thoughts regarding our city’s real and challenging issues. Our motivation is not to solve looming societal problems, but to soften hearts with small kindnesses that make a big impact.

At Rossman, we are raising leaders, and according to Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell in her book, Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship for a New Generation, “Children learn kindness, respect and empathy – internal strengths that connect them to others. You can’t just talk about these feelings and expect understanding; kids need to experience them.”

All Rossman students serve with purpose through class outreach opportunities. This year, first grade students will work to meet the immediate need of a local inner city food pantry. Now that the holidays are over, many food pantries find that their shelves become bare more quickly with fewer donations. So armed with the knowledge of a specific need, our first grade students hope to stock some shelves with soup. And with much lunchtime chatter revolving around NFL victories and losses, we plan to create our own version of the Super Bowl — a Souper Bowl! If you want to fill some empty bowls too, be sure to ask a first grader how you can help. With great kindness and a simple can of soup, we CAN make a difference.

In our first Monday Morning Gathering of the New Year, Mrs. Shipley encouraged all Rossman students and faculty to share a kind word or commit an act of kindness because through kindness our community is strengthened, our character is sharpened and our care for others is contagious. Our first grade students are taking her words to heart (and deed)!

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

Check out some great books about kindness here.

“Souper Bowl” Update

February 4, 2016

The first graders surpassed their goal to collect 100 cans of soup during their “Souper Bowl,” collecting a total of 335 cans! The children created commercials about the Souper Bowl that were distributed each night to parents. They worked in groups to write their scripts, list what props they needed and practice their lines. Using green screen technology, backgrounds were added to the videos to bring the students’ fun ideas to life.

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