"Pay It Forward"
Writing Project Lisa
5 - 8 grades
Several years ago the movie "Pay It Forward" was released. The
basic premise of this movie was that if you did a good deed for
someone and asked them to do three randomly good deeds for someone
else, then you could change the world for the better. I asked my
sixth grade class that year if they thought it was possible to do.
They agreed to give it a try. Over the winter holidays they were
assigned the task of doing three spontaneously kind things for three
people among their family or close friends. Then they were to ask
each of them to do the same. The students were asked to keep a journal
to record what they did and their observations as it was "paid forward."
This led to some very interesting insights into kindness and behavior.
When class resumed after the winter break, I asked them to write
about their findings and reflections in an essay format. Everyone
shared their writings and as a class we decided to pursue more kindness
avenues in the school.
On another day we discussed examples of random acts
of kindness. I shared with them the story of when my two year old
son was in the hospital and how scary it was for him. There was
an older boy in the room next door and one day the nurse came in
with a stuffed Winnie the Pooh bear and said that the boy next door
thought that my son would like it. I never saw the boy who bestowed
such a thoughtful gift but it made my son's day. To this day he
still sleeps with this bear that he is convinced made him better.
I explained how this boy did such a thoughtful gesture, never expecting
anything in return and how much it meant to my little boy.
Students gave examples of shoveling walks for elderly
neighbors and not ever letting them know who did it. They also had
all sorts of stories about spontaneous "chores" they did at their
house without ever being asked and how it really helped their parents.
They wrote letters to long lost friends and relatives and made cookies
and other treats for friends, and in some cases neighbors, who they
did not know.
When they followed up with writing about how their
acts were "paid forward," they had some unexpected surprises. Many
of them had parents or brothers or sisters who did something nice
Another year I worked with an elementary school on
Acts of Kindness. We did this around Valentine's Day. Each student
was given a cut-out paper heart and asked to look for acts of kindness
around them. If they caught someone being kind, they were to give
that person the heart. The kind person then wrote what it was he/she
did on the heart and it was then posted in a hallway in the school.
Soon there were 550 hearts with kind acts written on them for the
school to see.
A group of students wrote this project up and asked
the mayor to proclaim Kindness Week in our city. A copy of proclamations
from other cities is on the website. It was easy to create one for
our city and the mayor and city council were thrilled to do this.
The students made a presentation at the city council meeting that
was televised in our city. The students at that school really seemed
to be extra aware of kindness and took pride in leading the city
to do the same.
A very good website that offers all sorts of lesson
plans and ideas for kindness is