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.
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.
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.
Sharing the Kindness 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.
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.
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.
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.
It is a place that we all can enjoy. Our students love reading the messages. More rocks will be added each year, too.
Have you participated in the Kindness Rock Project? I would love to hear about it!