Our Stories

Kindergarten Changemakers Present 3 Kindness Projects

February 3, 2022 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

Kindergarten students embarked on a multi-disciplinary research project exploring an essential question: How can we be changemakers who promote kindness in our community? They were guided by such questions as :
  • What is our responsibility as Jewish citizens to help others in our community?
  • Is there a difference between having a desire to help and a responsibility to do so?
  • How do acts of tzedakah and gemilut chasadim strengthen the relationships among members of our community?
  • How does performing acts of kindness transform a community?

Over the course of the first semester, each Kindergarten class worked on a distinct Kindness Project. All the projects were designed to empower students to ask big questions, think critically and listen compassionately, engage with real-world challenges, work collaboratively, and communicate with curiosity, kindness and respect. The projects reflect Milton’s pedagogical philosophy, incorporating the Design Thinking process, Jewish text and tradition, and the reggio emilia approach. Through meaningful engagement, the Kindness Project provided students with opportunities for honing academic skills such as research, writing, engineering, math, and art, in addition to fostering innovation, leadership, and menschlichkeit.

Last Friday, Kindergarten families gathered on Zoom to learn about the Kindness Project, to see highlights of the children’s learning in Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and to celebrate the learning.

Neighborhood Kindness Station

Children in this Kindergarten class were inspired to build a Kindness Station for South Campus neighbors following a “kindness walk” last fall. On that walk, they saw people taking care of pets, sharing books in a “Little Free Library” and growing food in a community garden – and decided to do something similar to be kind to our neighbors. Using the Design Thinking process, they refined their ideas step by step. First, they empathized by researching who went past South Campus in order to understand their audience. Next they defined their plan, “We will make a Kindness Station where all the people and animals in the neighborhood can relax and read and get snacks or water.” They ideated through sketches and ultimately decided to make a box with compartments that hold books, water, snacks, and kindness notes for people of all ages; they also added a box with water, a bowl and bags for dogs and cats. Kindergarteners worked in committees and finalized plans before making a prototype. Their final design was given to Robert Davis, the husband of their Milton Kindergarten teacher and dad of alumni Rachel (’08), Eli (’10), Sarah (’12), and Hannah (‘16) – and he built a station to their specifications. Along the way, the children painted kindness rocks with rainbows, hearts, stars and peace signs; they also wrote messages on wood, paper and postcards. They referenced these symbols as they painted colorful images on the kindness station and animal box. They were happy to include a panda for Milton and Pigeon from the Mo Willems books! Everyone was thrilled to have the Kindness Station installed in front of South Campus and happily filled it with snacks, water, notes and books. They hope that everyone in the neighborhood stops by and they invite the wider Milton community to do so as well!

Playground Mensch Bench

At their Celebration of Learning, one Kindergarten class unveiled the mensch bench, a project they ideated, designed and decorated in order to support classmates, strengthen friendships, and foster joy and connections at South Campus. When the class began the Design Thinking process, they empathized with children who might be new to Milton, waiting for equipment, or simply feeling shy. After discussing the bench’s physical design, the children sketched their visions and determined that the common threads were that the bench be large enough for more than one child and include color to represent happiness. The prototype committees consisted of a Structure Committee, Painting/Design Committee, Kindness Messages Committee, Comfy Committee, Loud and Proud Committee (cards if someone needs inspiration for what to say to the child on the bench), and Noise Committee (something for the child on the bench to on their prototypes!

Go Kindness Mailboxes

Inspired by the book “One Good Deed,” one of our Kindergarten classes noticed a common thread – that kindness begets kindness. This concept sparked and, along with their use of the Design Thinking process, resulted in the Go Kindness Mailboxes. The students noticed that everyone loves a kindness note and a hug from a stuffie! The students worked on many mini-projects of the Kindness Mailbox – it features its own child-produced logo and is filled with stuffie toys made by the students and supportive notes they wrote! The students placed the kindness mailboxes at South Campus for times when children are experiencing big feelings.