March 19, 2017
First-graders put love in action with ‘kindness project’
By Caroline B. Mooney
LAFAYETTE — Sixteen first-graders in teacher Perry Langley’s class at St. Mary Cathedral School spent the month of February performing random acts of kindness.
“I wanted to give students something they could do in the community that taught kindness as a virtue,” Langley said. “I gave them a list of good ideas and it was cool to see the things they came up with on their own.”
She incorporated Valentine’s Day by giving each of her students 10 red hearts on which they were to record their good deeds. Each child then reported on their favorite act with five sentences and a photograph.
“We started in the beginning of February and went to the end of the month, so they had plenty of time,” she said.
Now, the bulletin board outside Langley’s room is overflowing with hearts. The excess hearts and all reports are posted throughout the school hallway, a concrete display of love in action.
Acts included: “I made my sisters’ beds,” “I went to church and breakfast with Papa. I was a good girl both places,” “I fixed all the books on my sister’s baby bookshelf,” “I helped my grandpa carry firewood,” and “I held the door open for a friend at school.”
“It was our very first graded project that we did at home, so we were kind of excited about it,” said student Bella Hancock.
Her report read: “I wrote a letter to Miss Langley because I like what she does for me. I felt joyful doing this. I chose this act of kindness because I like to write letters to people. It makes people smile. I also like it because she helped me out a lot and she’s super nice. She always is there when I need her. I like being in her class, that’s why I love her so much.”
“I also cleaned out our van, dusted the whole house, helped grandmother carry groceries, cleaned my room, and held the door open for strangers,” Hancock said. “It makes people feel good when you do things for them and I become closer to God.”
Classmate Dylan Weaver said he had heard of random acts before.
He wrote about taking homemade cookies to his uncle, and said it “made me feel happy that he liked them. He told me that everyone liked the cookies and that my note meant a lot to him.”
“Other nice things I did were setting the table, doing the laundry and taping four quarters to a vending machine at the grocery store,” Weaver said.
“When we were all done, I kept doing nice things,” he said. “I made dessert for my neighbors. It makes me feel happy to do nice things for people. They write nice, happy notes back to me.”
Langley said parents incorporated the project into their home lives, talking about the kind things they did each day and helping them act on their ideas.
“I got a lot of really good feedback from parents,” she said. “It’s been really helpful for us. I think our classroom has changed a little bit because it’s given the students more practical ways to be kind to people and they know what that looks like.
“I think as teachers sometimes we forget that we need to teach them those little skills, like practical ways to be kind and practical things you can do that are sacrifices or examples of different virtues,” Langley said. “They did a really nice job. I think they started recognizing actions in their lives that are kind.”