(Part 2) Showing Kindness from a Distance: Words of Encouragement

The following activity is part of a series we’re creating to support students, teachers, and caregivers, during this unprecedented time. Read more about the project here. If you try this activity with your student(s), we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform. 

Created by: Jenna Fournel
Discipline: Literacy / Art / Civics
Age level: Good for all ages.
Time: As long as you like.
Materials: chalk, pens, paper, markers, etc.

Students learn many things in school, and while we don’t tend to focus on the social aspects of their education as much as the academics, learning to connect, cooperate, support, and build friendships with peers may very well be some of the most important things they gain from their preK-12 experience. 

As most schools move to remote learning across the country, social skills will likely take a back seat to academics. And even in our communities, the opportunities to connect with other children in our neighborhoods, on playgrounds, or in after school activities are off limits. 

But there are ways to keep practicing kindness and connection, even as we stay 6-feet apart. This is the second in a series (see post one) of activities we’re sharing that provide opportunities to talk with your learners about people outside the space you’re currently inhabiting, and to think about how our actions can still have a positive impact on others, even if we can’t be together face-to-face right now. 

What to do: 

Speak Through Your Windows: I saw a Twitter post recently from someone who lives in an apartment building and their neighbor in a building across the street posted a sign saying, “What is the name of your white cat?” And the person posted a sign in return that said, “David Bowie.” It was a popular post because it spoke to the creative ways folks are finding to fill the need for connection right now. Your learners can do the same thing! Have them make signs with positive messages that you post in your windows. Change them up every few days so people taking walks learn to look to your windows for inspiration. 

Talk with Sidewalk Chalk: When you get outside to stretch your legs, whether it’s around the block or down a trail, consider taking along a piece of chalk and having your learner write little messages of encouragement as you go. These will wash off in the rain so you’re not harming surfaces, and they can bring some unexpected light to other walkers who travel this path. If you’re on a natural path where there aren’t surfaces to write on with chalk, consider writing with a stick in the dirt.


Noting that these activities involve writing, and you may be working with young learners who don’t know how to write yet, pictures work just as well. Or you can have your learners dictate to you while you write what they want to say. But have them be as involved as possible in the act of writing; so even if you write down what they say in chalk (for example), have your child decorate the space around the words so they feel very much a part of the process. 

Inspired Teaching Connection
These activities tap into the social emotional learning that is central to the Inspired Teaching approach. Learners are driven by Purpose, Persistence, and Action to create writing and art that has an audience and reason for being. In the conversations you have with learners as they create these things, you can engage them deeply in the Wonder-Experiment-Learn Cycle by having them observe the impact their actions have on others (i.e., When you see someone walk down the street and look at our window poster, what do you notice about their facial expression?)   

See our instructional model here.

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