It’s back to school time!!! Here is an engaging (ALREADY FINISHED) social & emotional learning lesson for you to use the first weeks of school with your young learners. Enjoy!!
- Connection and understanding in a community can be fostered through mindfulness practices and time spent in nature.
- The learners will cultivate an understanding that a community is a group of people who work, learn, and play together.
- The learners will explore ways to practice mindfulness and spread peace within their classroom community.
Time: 30-45 minutes (depending on class size)
- “A Little Peace” by Barbara Kerley
- Anchor chart and markers
- Safe Outdoor Space
- Jar, tin, or bucket, large enough to hold about 100 medium sized stones
- Creative art items (googly eyes, wire, pipe cleaners, clay, paint, ribbon, etc.)
- Bring your students outdoors and seat them in a comfortable area. Write the word PEACE on the anchor chart. Ask the students what they think the word PEACE Write down some of their answers. If they are unsure, explain to them that Peace IS when our families, classroom community, and friends listen to each other and spread kindness and love. Peace is togetherness: when we work together, share our things, and wish for everyone to be happy.
- Read “A Little Peace” by Barbara Kerley
- Encourage the children to make connections with the pictures. For example, on the first page it says, “All it takes is one hand.” Ask the students to show you their hands. Ask the students to hold the hand of a friend sitting next to them. Ask them how their body feels when they hold their friend’s hand. You can continue using the same process as you read.
- After you read, ask the students to think about places at school where they see their friends and other people. Some answers may include the lunchroom, playground, garden, beach, classroom, hallway, outside, inside, etc. Ask the students what they can do to in those common areas to spread peace. Example prompts include: Can you give a smile? A wave? Help a friend in need? Share your toys? Help clean up? Take some time to show and verbalize examples. Draw a picture of some of these areas on your anchor chart and show their ideas using pictures/symbols (smiling face, heart, holding hands, etc.).
- Explain to the students that nature/their common outdoor space is a wonderful place to spend time together and practice spreading a little peace.
- Next, ask the students to go look for a very special stone. Allow the students at least 10-15 minutes to search for their stones. Help the students if they struggle to find a stone.
- Bring the students back to the comfortable area and ask them to make a circle. Put the container you chose in the center of the circle. Explain to the students that they will be giving their “peace” stones to the person sitting next to them. Model the process. For example, say, “Tyler, I would like to give you this peace stone. You are kind to me.” Give the stone to Tyler and encourage him to put the stone in the peace jar. Continue this process until all students have a chance to give and receive a stone. Explain to the students that your peace jar will stay in your classroom all year. Explain to the students that they can give stones to their friends, teachers, family members, or pets they think of whenever they want to spread “a little peace.” Explain to the students that it is important to spread peace within a community so every member of the community feels loved and important.
- When you are finished with the peace stones, ask your students to close their eyes. Encourage the students to take a deep breath in and blow the breath out of their bellies. Breath together for a few minutes.
- Close the lesson by saying, “May all members of our community be peaceful, loved and kind to one another.”
Extension Ideas—ART/Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
Our Peaceful Community
- Get out art supplies and allow students to make a “Peaceful Me” portrait, model, or drawing. How do they spread peace in their community?
- Set up a table with a bulletin board with the heading “A Little Peace” and display their pieces of artwork with the anchor chart you created in class.
- You can also leave the Peace Jar and “A Little Peace” by Barbara Kerley on this table for students to have access to.
- Allow students to leave various objects that make them feel happy and loved on this table, too. Some examples may include flowers, leaves, stones, sea-glass, a special toy, etc.
- This display will help cultivate and foster peaceful practices within the classroom community.
- Pair your students up & head outside to a comfortable area.
- Explain to your students that they will create a portrait of their buddy. Encourage the students to pay attention to the emotions their buddy is expressing on their face or through their body language. Remind your students that paying attention to their partner is being mindful and shows their buddy that they care about them. Prompting questions include: How can you tell how your buddy is feeling? Where do you look on your buddy’s body to find out how he/she is feeling? Do you look at their eyes? Their mouth? Their eyebrows? Do we all look the same when we are happy? Sad? Angry?
- Offer students a wide selection of art supplies including crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, etc. You could also use only watercolors, pencils, or sharpies; depending on how much choice you want to offer your students.
- Allow students to add details to their portraits. Prompting questions could include: What do you notice in nature around you? Do you see trees? Animals? What does the sky look like? Can you feel the wind? What would the wind look like if you were to draw it? Encourage students who finish their buddy portraits quickly to add details to the background of their picture.
- Display the buddy portraits in the classroom!