Yoko’s World of Kindness
By Rosemary Wells
Kind and Gentle Week with Yoko:
Initiate a kind and gentle theme week with Yoko and help your children get off to the right start in school. In this guide you’ll find activities, lessons, and projects that will help your class become a supportive, positive place for kids to learn. Each child deserves a class that helps them grow both intellectually and emotionally and Yoko and her friends are the perfect examples to share. Adding this theme to your curriculum could pay big dividends for the rest of the school year and can be instituted painlessly by considering the following questions first:
Is there anything in the environment that I can change to support the theme?
Place desks in cooperative groups
Put up pictures of kids working together
Make a banner celebrating kind and gentle week
Are there any daily activities that can be reworked into the theme?
Create a kind and gentle box that students write (or draw a picture of if they’re emergent) with the names of students they see working kindly together. Review what’s in the box each morning at circle time.
Calendar: Students can be encouraged to do an act of kindness for each day of the week- they can even brainstorm what they might do for a parent, friend, or classmate. Share the results of their work the next day.
When students visit their resource teachers this week (music, gym, librarian) have them make a class thank-you card where they brainstorm what they love most about the class.
How will I reward students who are being kind and gentle?
Allow students to sign the banner when you “catch them being good” by cooperating with their peers, diffusing and argument or being helpful.
Send home small certificates of praise.
Place a stamp or sticker on children who act in a kind or gentle way.
Make positive examples of good behavior by noting the students to the class and then dropping a penny in a jar. When ten (or however many you think is appropriate) are in the jar the class gets extra story time, or five minutes more recess.
What are other activities that can support the theme?
Have secret friends. Students pull a name out of a jar and then they should do nice things for that person all week without them figuring out who it is! On Friday, have a meet your secret friend time and share a sweet treat together.
Kindness Collage Project:
Have students make a poster size collage from magazine pictures that show children (and adults) being kind and gentle to each other.
On Monday Share:
Mama Don’t Go
Read the Golden Rule the First aloud to students. What do you think this story will be about? What makes you think so? Have you ever wanted your parents to stay with you? When?
Get to know YOKO: With your students make a list of words to describe Yoko. What does Yoko look like? What kind of things does she say? What does she like to do? Who are her friends?
Each day at school means new things Yoko looks forward to. Make copies of a weekly calendar chart. Have students fill in which resources and activities occur on each day of the week (if you’re resources only occur every other week you may want to give them a generic monthly calendar instead). They can even add pictures to remind them which items (like gym shoes) may be needed. Have students highlight their favorite activities and write at least three sentences about what they look forward to at school. Share the calendar with mom and dad.
Yoko gives her mom a day off in Mama, Don’t Go. What does her mom do with a day off? Draw four pictures of what you think your Mom or Dad might do with a little extra time. Now, draw a picture of what you would like to do with a day off! Share your pictures with your friends and you parents.
On Tuesday Share:
Read Golden Rule the Second to your students. What is a genius? Do you know the names of any geniuses?
Create three art centers that your students can explore a variety of media in an open-ended project. At one center provide paints and plenty of paper (and towels!). At another supply students with a variety of scraps of fabric, tissue paper, construction paper, string, glue and other small items like buttons, beans, beads, etc. At the third able have play-doh, sculpey or other three dimensional product (even aluminum foil works nicely!). Give students twenty minutes at each station with no direction except to clean up their mess when they hear the warning bell. Display the students’ favorite piece in the hallway. Discuss, too, who from Mrs. Jenkins’ class would have liked this assignment and why.
Find reproductions of Henry Matisse’s most famous works and display them in the class in a numbered gallery on the blackboard. (There are usually old calendars available of the great masters’ art available at many bookstores). Have students walk around the gallery and finish these sentences. “When I look at number ___ I feel….” “Number ____ makes me think of….” “The colors in number ____ remind me of….” “My favorite picture is number ____ because …..” Discuss the student responses. Choose a new artist each month!
After the students’ open-ended art projects dry, create fancy frames out of construction paper for them and put them up around the room like a gallery. Teach the students to talk about art using some of these terms: color, shape, line, background, figures and media. Explain that responding to art isn’t just whether you like it or not but how it makes you feel and think about. Have students take a notebook around the student gallery and jot down a nice note about each piece using the terms you taught them. Share the results with the artist.
On Wednesday share both
Bubble Gum Radar & The Secret Birthday
Read Golden Rule the Third:
What is the difference between teasing and joking? How can you tell the difference? How does teasing hurt? Do you get bruised? What does it mean that it is “under the guise of joking.” What is an example?
Have students pick one of the following names: Timothy, Doris, Claude, Nora, Yoko, or Grace. Have them write a letter to the Franks about what happened in class. Tell them how it made them feel and how they want to be treated from now on.
As a class, brainstorm a list of things that friends do for each other. Write responses on large pieces of bulletin board or butcher paper. Then make a list of things friends Don’t do to each other. Post these two lists for an instant bulletin board and a good reminder for students!
Sing the Friendship song (p.77) from Bubble Gum Radar. Have students stand in a line as you sing and each student gets to say one of the “nevers” as you point to them.
The Secret Birthday
How can a birthday be secret? Why is it important not to talk about birthday parties at school? How can you keep from hurting people’s feelings? Have you ever found out about a party that you weren’t invited to? How did it make you feel?
Mrs. Jenkins definitely had rules about birthday parties at school. What were they? Do you think this is a good idea? Why? With your class brainstorm a list of rules about birthday parties. cake shape and have students copy the Birthday Rules inside. Share with parents so feelings at school are spared. Be sure to include a list of things kids Can do to share their special day. For example, bring in cookies for the whole class to share at snack time, or donate a book to the class library in honor of the day.
Create birthday cards to give to kids who are in the hospital. With parent help, kids can create special treat bags with small toys, crayons tied with ribbon, stickers and a get well note.
Ask at least ten people which of these activities are their favorite part of a birthday party: playing games, eating cake and ice cream, making a craft, or watching presents get opened. Graph the results!
On Thursday share:
The School Play
Have you ever seen a school play before? What’s it like? Do all the kids get the same number of lines and parts? How come?
Act it out:
Write the play the kids are performing about dental health. After several practices, perform it for parents or another classroom. Try to find other objects that when rubbed together make the drilling sound for the dentist.
Write a new play:
Brainstorm as a class characters that could be involved in a play about healthy eating. Make poster in the shapes of good foods, and write lines that each character can say. Practice the play several times and share it!
On Friday share:
Make New Friends
How can you make a new friend? Is it easy to make new friends? Can you always have another friend?
Captain Friend Ship:
Buy a small plastic boat from a toy or dollar store and write The Friend Ship on the side with permanent marker. Then, add a ship dye-cut to your jobs list and assign a student each week to the job of watching out for others. Brainstorm with your class the things the Captain of the Friend Ship might do on any given day, and another list about special days like when a new student arrives.
New student guide:
After students have settled into the class routine, ask them to brainstorm all the things a new student might need to learn about your classroom and school (songs, schedules, lunch routines, etc.) and make a list. Then, assign each student one of the things on the list. This is an excellent example of process writing! Students should break the task into small steps and number them, and then they should illustrate their picture. Bind the results to share with new students on their first day. Make extra copies to send home to the families of new students.
Make Friendship Salad:
Have each student bring in a different piece of fruit. Then, cut up the pieces, add them all together and enjoy friendship fruit salad.
Juanita tells Yoko: “Everybody in Hilltop School does something special.” And, of course everybody at your school does too. Have students draw a picture of themselves doing something special. At the top of the page have them finish the sentence “I am special because I…” Bind the individual pages together and title it. Leave it in the class library for all to share.