Have you heard about the Kindness Rocks Project? The trend started several years ago with the simple mission of "one message at just the right moment can change someone's entire day, outlook, life." This mission spoke to me and I wanted to bring it to life in my classroom. 
Rock painted with the word kind surrounded by other rocks.
The project started as a simple paint and hide rocks in our community but then grew into a Kindness Rocks Garden at my school. There are many ways to incorporate Kindness Rocks at school. I am excited to share the things I have done with my students. I like to start this project at the start of the school year, but it can be done at any point in the year. Before I get into the specifics, let's talk about decorating the rocks. 
Creating Rocks

I asked my students to find a smooth rock, wash it if necessary, and bring it to school. I collected some from home, too. Recently I discovered that you could buy rocks at craft stores. Who knew?! You will also need newspapers, paint or paint markers, and outdoor Modge Podge.

I created Kindness Rocks centers during my ELA block. Students were asked to come up with a positive word or quote that they wanted to share. Next, they created a simple plan for the rock design.  Then each student wrote about why the specific word or quote was chosen. 

Rock plans were passed in when finished. Then I had small groups of students come to the painting station. We used Sharpie oil-based paint markers to paint the rocks. (I listed these on my classroom wishlist during Open House and many parents donated sets.) If more than one color is going to be used it is a good idea to let the base coat dry first. 

Once the rocks are painted they will need to be covered with a waterproof sealer. I used Mod Podge for Outdoor Use. It can be easily applied with foam brushes. I recommend putting two coats of sealer. This should be done in a well-ventilated area. When the rocks are completely dry you can decide how to share them. 
Rock painted with the word smile surrounded by other painted rocks.
Sharing the Kindness Rocks

Community Rocks
Take a walking field trip, with parental and school permission, and "hide" the rocks for people to find. My class did this the first year I had heard about the project. 

Options: Add a school-specific hashtag to the bottom of each rock. Publicize the project in the local newspaper, school website, etc. Ask community members to post to social media if a rock is found using the hashtag in the post. Follow the hashtag on your classroom Instagram account. 

School Rocks
1. Decorate rocks for students to keep in their desk or cubby. The rocks can be taken out and enjoyed whenever they are needed. 

2. Rocks can be decorated by students for school staff and then shared on Teacher Appreciation Day. They can also be shared on a normal day as a random act of kindness. 

3. Paint a rock in honor of a classmate. Have students pick a name and design a rock for that person. This is a fun way to build community in the classroom. 

4. Place decorated rocks around the school for everyone to enjoy. 
One decorated rock in front of the school
Kindness Rock Garden
This is my personal favorite! The mission of the Kindness Rocks Project really spoke to me. The idea of one message - at just the right moment - changing someone's day - kept rattling around in my brain. Then it hit me. I wanted to create a space where students could go to find that one message when it was needed. The Kindness Rocks Garden idea was born. 

The first garden was created by our school's playground. Each 5th-grade student painted two rocks. All the rocks were placed in the garden for students to enjoy. It was beautiful! Until the following September when we returned to an empty rock garden. I was thrilled people had enjoyed them over the summer, but sad that the students wouldn't be able to see them anymore. 
Empty rock garden
My students wanted to create a new garden in a more secure space. It was placed in our school's courtyard. My students dug out the area and filled it with gravel. Then we talked to all of the teachers in the school and had every student make a rock. 
Partially filled in Kindness Rock Garden.
It is a place that we all can enjoy. Our students love reading the messages. More rocks will be added each year, too. 
Shadows of students looking at the Kindness Rock Garden

Have you participated in the Kindness Rock Project? I would love to hear about it!
Read-aloud time is my favorite part of the day. We come together as a class to listen and discuss books. The conversation is important because it helps us grow. 
Teacher reading aloud to students
There are many ways to choose read-aloud books. I look for books that will spark conversations. I also like to use the first book in a series because it will inevitably hook students and they will want to read more!

Here are some of my favorite read-aloud titles:

This book is perfect for starting the school year. It opens discussions about being new and fitting in with classmates. The story is told through multiple characters and their unique perspectives. 
One of my favorite activities is to compare and contrast the book and movie. It is interesting to see which version my students like better. I would choose the book version every time. 

This is the first book in a series. It is told through the eyes of seven different characters. This book is great to use when discussing point of view and perspective. Last year my students brought up the idea of stereotypes. We used this book to discuss that big idea, too. 
My students loved finding dollar words while reading this book. They found them everywhere!

This book is part of the Rick Riordan Presents series. Rick Riordan presents is a part of the Disney Hyperion publishing company and the goal, according to the website, is "...to publish great middle-grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage."
I am working to add more books from other cultures to my classroom library. Fantasy is my favorite genre so I was excited to read this last year. My class loved it! Rick Riordan highlights many other authors, too. You can find out more on his website. 

This is one of my favorites! The main character does not like to read. He loves playing games. As you can guess from the title he has to escape from the library. 
My class loved the book. We made rebus puzzles and board games when we finished. There are other books in this series, too. 

This book is wonderful. The story takes place on 9/11, but the book is about friendship and hope. The book is told from two different characters point of view. The chapters alternate between the main character and the man in the white shirt. 
My students had a lot of questions about 9/11. I paired this book with I Survived 9/11 to help. This book is great for discussing theme. 

This book is not available until October 2019. But, it has my curiosity piqued. It is about a girl that writes about the perfect best friend. She calls her Zoe. Her writing notebook disappears and a girl named Zoe moves to town. 
I can't wait to read this book. I hope that it is as good as it sounds. I have a lot of possible ideas to go along with it. 

What books do you read aloud to your class? Let me know in the comments below. 

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