Discovery fourth-graders learn to be kind to others, themselves
October 2, 2012
By Lillian O'Rorke
School has only been in session a few weeks, and already the walls of Allison Lehr’s fourth-grade classroom at Discovery Elementary School are decorated with examples of a happy and helpful classroom community.
The white butcher paper that canvases the door can hardly be seen for the colorful text describing good deeds that the students have performed. Scrawled in orange marker, one student wrote “played with my sister nicely,” underlining the last word. In blue was “I opened the car door for my brother,” and in red, another student wrote, “Someone got the wind knocked out of him and I said are you okay?”
Kushagra Verma, who will be 10 on Oct. 7, said he likes to help his friends — if he finishes his schoolwork early, he’ll offer them assistance.
“To you, you think it’s a little bit but to them it’s a big help,” he said. “And by that, you’re helping make the world a beautiful place.”
Kushagra and the rest of his class were challenged by their teacher to do three random acts of kindness every day.
Discovery Elementary School
“Acts of kindness is something I like to do in the fall to build community,” Lehr said. “They start to think outside of themselves and learn to be more helpful and caring for others.”
To help illustrate the lesson, she showed the class a clip from the movie “Pay it Forward,” about a boy who attempts to make the world a better place. A lot of them do it naturally, she added, but others need to be reminded.
“It really helps this place be a better community,” Jake Kacsur said. “It [helping one another] goes on and on and on.”
As the students learn about the importance of being kind to others, they also are learning about being kind to themselves. Based on the book “The Best Part Of Me: Children Talk About their Bodies in Pictures and Words,” Lehr gave the students a writing assignment in which they had to write about their favorite body part.
“It helps them reflect on themselves,” she said, adding that the assignment, by helping kids get to know each other, is also another activity that helps build the classroom community. It also gives students a chance to highlight their talents and hobbies.
Srikar Chava chose to write about his hands.
“I love my hands because I use them to drive a Jet-Ski. I drove a Jet-Ski in Lake Chelan … With my hands I like to eat fried chicken. My hands help me play football,” he read out loud to his peers during the class’ author corner Sept. 19. “The last thing is that they help me to draw. I draw really good. I like it. My hands rock.”
During author corner the children sat silently, doing their best not to squirm as they waited for their chance to read aloud. When it was Reese Kelley’s turn, she spoke about her “beautiful mouth.”
“I love my mouth because I talk a lot. My mouth allows me to yell ‘go team,’” she said. “My mouth asks questions for me. I need help, so my mouth gets help for me. I like complimenting people with my mouth. At dance competitions, I say ‘good job.’ My mouth is awesome.”
Nine-year-old Sara Varsa already knows what she wants to be when she grows up, a writer.
“I love my hands because I could hold a pencil. If I could hold a pencil, I could write many stories,” she read aloud. “The best reason I love my hands is because I can flip the pages of a book, I love to read. I just love my hands.”
Reflecting on the assignment, Sara said afterward, “You kind of have something you can like forever and you can think about how lucky you are.”