Saturday, December 28, 2013

RACK {Our Random Acts of Classroom Kindness}!

Last year around this time, I knew many people were participating in RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness).  As we got closer to the holiday season, I knew I wanted to do this with my class...I just had to figure out how...

You see, this year, my class need of...hmmmmmm.  How do I say it....???

Some of them just need to be nicer and a little less SELF-CENTERED if you get me??

So of course I turn to Pinterest for some ideas because I knew there would be some, I just needed a nudge in the right direction.  And, Pinterest NEVER lets you down!

I found this pin first:

And then this pin:
Now, the first pin links to Cara Carroll's blog, The First Grade Parade.  As soon as I saw it linked to her, I knew it was going to be good.  Because everything she does is good.  If you don't read her blog, I strongly recommend it.  Even if you are upper grades, like me, you'll find something you can use and make appropriate for upper grades.  I promise!

Well, her RACK cards were for her family (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness).  So, I read over her post, drooled over the beautiful Advent Calendar she made, and filed away some of her ideas in my head, hoping I could use some for the classroom.

Then, I went to Stephanie's blog, 3rd Grade Thoughts.  Another fabulous blogger!!  I knew I was in luck having stumbled on two amazing pins like this!!  I read over Stephanie's cards and I really liked that she switched her to Random Acts of CLASSROOM Kindness.  She's so smart.  Much quicker thinking than I am.  ;O)

So, I read over her cards and decided we could definitely do some of these.

I wanted to get started the week we got back from Thanksgiving break and do one each day for those 3 weeks.  Plus, there were a few that would be "homework" because it required them to take it home or do something at home.  There were also specific people in our school building that I wanted to target, so I added those in.  Here's what I came up with:

Now, I'm pretty aggravated with myself because I left some photos on my jump drive at school and forgot to bring it home for the break.  I will add those photos in once I get back to school.

We actually did ALL of these cards except maybe two.

Here's how I introduced it to the class:
I put the wrapped present on my bench.  The kids love the bench and I knew they would see it.  It was just a matter of time before they started asking about it.  By about mid-day, they wanted to know who left it there and who it was for.  I told them I left it there and it was for the class.  They got REALLY excited!  I told them we would open it at the end of the day.  The suspense about killed them!  ;O)

At the end of the day, I gathered them on the carpet in front of this bench.  I started to talk to them about the season coming up.  I knew everyone didn't celebrate Christmas, so I explained that sometimes we get so wrapped up in wanting things for ourselves, we forget how good it can feel to GIVE to others.  And, we forget how it can make OTHERS feel when we give to THEM.

From there, I explained what Random Acts of Kindness are and then told them we were going to do a classroom version.  I showed them the cards in the box.
I did not read all of the cards to them.  I told them it would be a surprise each day.

I wanted them to be able to keep track of the different RACKs we pulled out, so I created a log sheet so they wouldn't forget, since some of them might take a little time.

Each afternoon, just before bus call, the kids would say, "It's time for RACK!!!"  We never forgot.  Not one day.  Well, I forgot.  They didn't.  So they didn't let ME forget for long!  We would sit and they would all gather around me.  More like on top of me.  Because they knew if they were close, THEY would be the one to pick the card out.  But it didn't always work that way.  I was always looking for someone who was RACKing others without even thinking about it.  And if they did, I'd let them pull the card.  I never said why I picked them, just that only those with the true RACK spirit could pull cards.

(This probably sounds harsh but the very first week one of the cards we pulled was "Help a friend clean up his or her area".  That NEXT DAY we were walking in the hall and had stopped to wait to go into art.  Another student from another class was walking past our class and had her hands were full.  She dropped everything and it went everywhere.  I kid you not.  My entire class turned and looked at me.  Just looked at me and looked at her.  Then back at me.  Finally, one of them moved to help her and I said, "This would be a RACK for sure!"  Then, they ALL moved.  See.  This is why we did this.  They didn't quite get it on their own.  So doing all of this brought it to their attention that they SHOULD help.  I couldn't believe they just stood there and looked at me.  Maybe they wanted permission to get out of line and help?  We'll go with that...)

When we made notes for the librarians and lunch ladies, I put the notes in a little box and I had made brownies.  I put them in a bag and we left the notes and brownies for them.  My assistant principal had to put her dog to sleep, and she was one of the cards, so I told them I wanted to pull that card that day so we could leave her notes and maybe lift her spirits.  We left a candy cane for her since she can't eat gluten.

The kids LOVED the making a sign for the trash collector.  I had parents email me pictures of their notes on the trash can.  Those are pictures I will add later (sorry!).

I also have a picture of a student leaving a chalk note on the driveway of her neighbor's house, thanking them for putting up Christmas lights on their house  It's precious.  I promise I'll add that one too!

I do have a picture of the last RACK we did.  This one was a big hit.  I had parents donate a box of candy canes to this cause.  We had loads of candy canes.  Then, I emailed and got a parent or two to come in on the Friday before the break to help us.  You see, I'm not so comfortable having 28 fourth graders running around the parking lot unsupervised.  So, I had three parents come in and take groups around the parking lot and put notes and candy canes on the cars.  Here's one of my sweeties with her RACK!
This was a great success.  Friday was a day of winter parties.  Apparently a parent that was helping with a party left and posted a picture of her candy cane and note on her car, tagging the school's Facebook page.  The next thing I know, the administrative assistant is buzzing into my room asking me to check my email and respond ASAP.  Uh oh.  So I did.  Her email said, Did your class RACK the cars in the parking lot?:  Can I post it on FB?

I was like, um, yes, but it's supposed to be anonymous.  And how did you know it was me???  She said that a parent posted it on FB and then one of my student's parents that had helped us responded on the post and said it was my class.  Geez.  Social media works fast, I tell ya.

Five minutes later, the principal is in my room.  She thanked my class for their thoughtfulness and said she promised she wouldn't tell.  It made my students feel very good, so I guess technically I'm glad that they found us out.

Later, a few teachers figured out it was us (they removed my name from FB so it was still anonymous) and they left really sweet messages on my personal FB page.  One of them said "It made me smile at the end of a long, crazy day.  It's amazing how something so small can mean so much."  Very true.  And something we all need to remember.

I hope my students learned something from this.  I know I did.  Maybe it will stick with them.  I hope so.

PS- A great big thank you to all who have posted about RAKs and helped me find a way to do this in my classroom!!  Oh, and I am linking this up to my buddy Joanne for her linky:

And don't forget about our giveaway!!!  It ends tonight!!

 Click the button below!  Good luck!


  1. Oh gosh...I'm tearing up! This is so sweet! I'm totally doing this next year during December. I might try it in February or May for Teacher's Appreciation...hmmm...the ideas are flowing! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to see all the pictures!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  2. What a great little lesson you have taught your students. I am glad all of your RACKing was a success :)

  3. What a fabulous post! I love RACKs! Your students will remember this FOREVER! You've instilled so many values with these acts! My favorite part is that you have them keep track, such a great reflection tool! I'm definitely doing the log next year! And, I hear you about your "class" this year-that's why I know what we're doing will soften them up! :O) Thanks so much for sharing and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching


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