The Lenten season is well underway and my students have been preparing their hearts for Easter by doing Good Deeds. Their acts of kindness happen at home and at school and I have a great FREE resource to help you encourage Good Deeds within your own classroom.
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At the beginning of Lent, we discuss the season, what it means, some Lenten symbols, and ways that we can remember Jesus and share his love during this time. I tell the class that we are going to do Good Deeds as our Lenten offering. Each child also receives a Good Deeds chart. The chart show the image of a large, colorless stained glass window with empty spaces. Each time a child performs a Good Deed, he or she colors a space on the chart. When Easter finally arrives, the completed chart shows a bright range of color that represents all of their Lenten acts of love.
General Guidelines for the Doing of Good Deeds
Of course, you know as well as I that children need guidelines before they begin any new activity. Here are a few of the rules I describe for my students as they prepare to share their acts of kindness with the world:
- A Good Deed is not a chore. It is an extra responsibility you take on. Making your own bed, cleaning up your own toys, and other daily household/classroom duties do not count as Good Deeds because they are things you are supposed to be doing every day. In contrast, making your parents bed, cleaning up a sibling's toys for them, and helping a parent clean up after dinner is a Good Deed because you are helping someone else to accomplish their job.
- We must always ask others if they would like our help before we begin to do a Good Deed. If we ask and the person says “no”, we walk away and let them do their job on their own. I always read The Berenstain Bears and the Good Deed to help my class understand this concept. In the book, Papa Bear attempts to help several people and keeps making them angry because he doesn't understand what they want. It does a wonderful job of helping little ones see the importance of asking permission before you begin to help someone.
- Your own work must be complete before you do a Good Deed to help someone else. This rule is mostly for classroom management purposes. Here is a perfect example: I have a few students that LOVE to help their friends pack up at the end of the day. They get their friends all packed up, bundled, and ready to go… but then make the class late for dismissal because we now have to wait for them to pack up their OWN belongings for home. This rule keeps everyone motivated to take care of their own responsibilities quickly and encourages the students that needs a little extra time to take steps toward independence before their friends come swooping in to help. It works out nicely for everyone.
- We never lie about Good Deeds. Some students just love to color in the chart and can't wait to fill it up. So they will quickly color five spaces on the chart, but can't describe what they did to help someone else before they colored the spaces. I can always tell who really did a Good Deed because they are so eager to share lots of details when asked about their experience. I ward this problem off on the first day by telling the class that this is different from the coloring sheets they are accustomed to – it will take 40 days (the entire Lenten season) to color this particular chart. I then explain that each time a space is colored, it is like a prayer that let's God know how hard we've been trying to be kind to others. Most students won't understand that pretending to do Good Deeds is dishonest. Once I explain that each Good Deed and coloring space is a little prayer to God, it generally prevents any issues from arising.