No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop
At Lovin ES, a garden of kind words is planting warm feelings and spreading sunshine for students, staff, and visitors.
For the Lovin school community, this positive project started when children in grades 1-3 put together their heads (and hearts) to participate in The Kindness Rocks Project, a national campaign to spread kindness and share caring words with those who need them.
To celebrate the 100th day of the school year on Jan. 22, students in the 1st grade classrooms of Daisy Arias and Lindsey Coleman painted 100 rocks to share 100 acts of kindness. Meanwhile, Gerin Hennebaul— the school’s STEM instructional coach and advisor for the after-school Eco-Heroes Club— was looking for fun and eco-friendly activities for the club’s 2nd and 3rd graders when a Pinterest post on the Kindness Rocks Project caught her eye.
Once the three educators realized they were all working on the same project, the two groups of students teamed up to create a beautiful garden with their hand-painted rocks.
Precious, a 3rd grader, says she enjoyed painting the positive messages on the rocks. “If someone is having a bad day, they can take a rock and be happy,” she says. Another Eco-Hero, 2nd grader Dawud, believes the project help kids at Lovin who take a rock from the garden. “They will learn that they are special to us at Lovin.”
Along the fence line in a corner of the school’s STEAM Garden, the painted stones offer kind words and splashes of color… shades of green, pastel blues, sunny yellows, and pretty pinks. The brightly colored rocks are decorated with smiling faces, rainbows, hearts, and uplifting messages. Be happy! Stay strong! Be the best you! You can do it! Reach for the stars! A sign encourages visitors to choose a rock for inspiration, share a rock with a friend who needs some kindness, and even add their own painted rocks.
While every rock looks different, “they all showed kindness,” according to Naabea, a 1st grader. The children say they hope the Kindness Rocks make a difference for a student having a bad day or a child new to the school. “We need kindness so that other people at our school won't feel sad,” says Nyla. Classmate Kyndal adds, “I hope that new students to Lovin will see the rocks and know that they are important and that someone cares about them.”
“The impact is so much bigger than I had originally hoped which makes this project even more meaningful,” says Ms. Coleman. “My students ask to visit the garden daily to check on the rocks with hopes that another student, who may have needed some kindness that day, has picked up a rock.”
While the kindness-centered project has brightened up the schoolyard and offered encouraging messages for those who visit the garden, it also has ignited enthusiasm across grade levels to pursue a mission of kindness. Other classes have rock-painting activities planned for Earth Day on April 22 and some students chose to spread the love on Valentine’s Day, decorating rocks as a class activity.
All that kindness promotes a caring culture at the school, and that culture has an impact on both academics and behavior, says Ms. Hennebaul. She points out that Lovin is a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) school. PBIS helps schools create and maintain a positive school climate. Under PBIS, students throughout the Archer Cluster practice TIGER Traits, working to show Trust, Integrity, Growth, Effort, and Respect.
“When walking into Lovin Elementary School, you instantly feel the sense of family, community, and kindness we have established in our culture,” Ms. Hennebaul says. “PBIS and TIGER Traits are a part of our culture at Lovin. We practice kindness every day! Because of this, we are always looking for new ways to spread kindness through our school and community.”
And one of the ways to spread kindness started with some rocks, a little math, some artistic creativity, a corner of the school’s garden, and a lot of inspirational words.
The students who “planted” this garden of kindness invite you to visit Lovin to gather your own bit of sunshine. Better yet, look around and see where you can spread some kindness yourself! Because, as the TIGERS at Lovin will tell you, Kindness Rocks!