Everyone looks forward to summer, but it can be a time when kids don't know what to do with themselves. You know how frustrating that can be!
Quick! You need some new summer vacation ideas to keep the kids happy before they drive you up the wall. Bonus, if they learn something valuable at the same time, right!
So, you jump on google and search for "summer activities for kids". Hey presto! You find our post with loads of free kindness printables!
Do I hear a sigh of relief or are you thinking; "kindness activities, yeah, I don't know about that"?
Let me tell you why you need to teach kindness over the break. Summer is a loonnngggg vacation. Bored kids get picky and nasty. That turns your summer vacation into a not so restful time of squabbling and door slamming.
Finding these summer learning activities for elementary students won't just help you over the break. Getting kids involved in summer kindness will make them feel more rested and peaceful as they go back to school.
There are a range of other reasons for teaching kindness you may not have considered. I'll mention some below but the important thing you need to know right now is that kind kids are calm kids. Doing good together keeps them occupied and generally makes them happier, more thoughtful, and your home will be a lot more peaceful!
Now, I'm not saying these kindness activities are a magic bullet for a happy vacation. But using some of these summer activity pages will help you enjoy a more peaceful break as your kids take part in acts of kindness. And more than anything, kindness is the foundation of so many important character traits and we all want our kids to be kind!
Free Summer Printables to Teach Kids to Be Kind
In case you're not convinced that kindness activities are the way to go, let me briefly list a few good reasons to use these ideas and free kindness printables.
If you want to know more about the reasons to teach kindness, read this post.
1. Free Kindness Ideas Poster for Kids AND Adults
When it comes to participating in acts of kindness, there are lots of things you can do. For starters, you might like to download our free kindness ideas poster with about 100 ways kids and adults can show kindness.
Yep, there are two separate kindness lists and believe it or not the adult poster has been downloaded more than the one for kids. This suggested that adults are taking the opportunity to model the kind behavior they want to see in their kids.
2. Free Printable Kindness Coloring Pages
Did you know that coloring is a mindfulness activity that's good for mental health and emotional wellbeing?
Coloring can help kids calm down because it's a form of meditation which helps distract them from their worries. Coloring also promotes creativity and develops fine motor skills.
While you may be looking for summer coloring sheets, think kindness coloring instead! These free kindness coloring pages remind students that they have the power to make someone happy and while they're doing good for someone else, they're also making themselves feel great!
The brain is rarely allowed to drop down into alpha mode anymore, which is the kind of state your brain is in during deep relaxation or meditation,' Dr Rodski said.
'When we put the machines on people as they colour, we can see their brains go from beta mode, which is around 30 cycles per second, into alpha mode, which is between five and fifteen cycles per second.
Dr. Stan Rodski, Daily Mail Post
If you like these and want some more kindness worksheets or want to explore other topics, check these resources:
3. Kindness Fortune Teller or Cootie Catcher
Do you remember the good old cootie catcher, fortune teller, or chatterbox from when you were young? Back in the "old days", they were just a game but these days, they're a very popular resource among teachers. They use them as engaging social-emotional learning activities to build positive character traits and teach all manner of topics. They're popular because kids absolutely LOVE them and are happy to learn in such a fun way!
This particular fortune teller is a great way to teach about kindness and friendship. It will keep your kids calm and entertained as they get folding, writing, and coloring. It's a good one if they want some arts and crafts because it's actually a form of origami.
Students in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade particularly love fortune tellers because they can use the printable or Google Slides templates to customize to suit them.
My students loved these chatterboxes! They love chatterboxes - full-stop! These ones are special because they relate to our learning on kindness, relationships, and wellbeing in the New Year.
Lyn C. - used with 2nd grade students
The other thing I love about this activity is how it develops hand/eye coordination as kids cut out their paper square and fold it into a game. I do have to warn you though, that they'll need to follow the instruction sheet the first time they fold it and might need some help if they're younger. But having said that, following directions is a great way to improve problem-solving skills.
It was the year of the cootie catcher in my class. They couldn't get enough of them. Could there be a better topic than kindness these days?
Corinne K - used with 3rd grade students
If you love cootie catchers, then have a look at these other topics:
4. Free Compliments Bookmarks
We all want and need to feel valued and appreciated. It's a good feeling to receive a genuine and heartfelt compliment and it's something we should teach our kids to do.
Studies reported by Psychology Today show that people often underestimate the impact a compliment can have. The conclusion was that "people who received the compliments felt happier, more pleased and flattered than the compliment-giver predicted."
"The researchers also found that compliment-givers were in a better mood after delivering a compliment and reported they would be more likely to give a compliment to a stranger in the future."
Being in the habit of giving compliments helps us notice and appreciate what’s good and what we like in those around us. So being complimentary helps us create an optimistic, happier outlook.
Marcia Naomi Berger, NBC News Post
So, giving compliments is not just a one-way street. Saying something nice to someone else benefits the giver just as much through the feel-good emotions they experience. And the other thing to consider is the positive effect giving compliments has on relationships. What's not to love!
Get your kids started with these free compliments bookmarks. You can download them for free so they can start practicing being kind.
5. Free Kindness Checklist
Our kindness checklist is mostly used during Random Acts of Kindness Day or World Kindness Week but honestly, it can be used at any time of the year. It's a kindness challenge kids love because they get to check things off a list and let's face it, who doesn't love that!!
Kids are challenged to do good deeds in 4 categories:
I used this as a continuation of our weekly bully meetings about being kind. The checklist was a great way for them to see many different ways they have or can be kind to others.
Jacqueline Y. - used with 2nd grade students
Kids select three or more acts of kindness from four categories (school, home, community, with an adult) to complete. Kids love a bit of friendly competition to see who can check off the most good deeds.
What I love is that while they think they're just having a bit of fun, they're actually learning important character traits that teach them to be a good human. AND being nice improves your home dynamic or classroom community!
Many teachers asked us to customize the checklist for their grade. We loved the idea, but with so many requests we thought it was easier to create a list that they could personalize themselves in Google Slides. If you want to add specific good deeds for kids at home or school, then grab the extended version of this resource.
I loved this checklist! So many great ideas to talk about! Sent it home as a challenge for students to complete as many as they could in November and bring back for a prize!
Mandy E. - used in K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade
6. Make Your Own Coloring Pages
If your kids enjoy coloring but you'd like to extend the time that they're engaged in the activity, then check this one out. This Google Slides resource allows kids to "build their own" coloring page.
They can use the templates and clipart supplied to copy and paste items onto a slide to design a picture they want to color. They can even add a quote if they'd like. There are examples to show them what they can do.
This is a fun way to practice digital skills while they're developing positive character traits. Kids will design their own kindness coloring sheets using unique clipart in Google Slides™ OR they can find their own clipart on the internet to add if they're tech savvy.
I had my students design their own coloring page. I then printed them all and made a kindness coloring book for each child. I loved the pages they created and the coloring book was wonderful. I plan to do this again as part of our community building when school starts again with distance learning.
Ellen G. - used with 2nd grade students
7. Free Digital Kindness Jigsaw
If you're taking a road trip or a vacation from home and don't want to take too much with you, then this free digital jigsaw puzzle could do the trick!
All you have to do is click the button in the download to access your own Google Slides copy of this 24-piece kindness puzzle. This online game has all the cognitive and developmental benefits as a regular jigsaw but without the mess.
Yet another resource to nurture positive character traits, the inspirational quote drives home a positive message that encourages kindness and friendship.
We completed this activity after our weekly bully meeting. We discussed what it means to be a good friend and qualities of being and having a good friend. They loved doing this puzzle as a wrap up.
Jacqueline Y. - used with 2nd grade students
There's a designated online workspace with pieces scattered around the outside of the board. Kids move them in place using a mouse or their finger if they're using a touchscreen. The activity helps develop fine motor skills and improve their ability to concentrate to complete a task.
And the best part, you won't have to search for lost puzzle pieces on the floor or in your luggage.
I used this as a way to incorporate my eLearners into a team building activity. The students had to work together to put the puzzle together alongside my face to face students who were working on their own puzzles in smaller groups in class. I would definitely use this activity again!
Lauren M. - used with Pre-K students
Don't worry if you have older kids who need a more complicated game. There's a selection of 20, 35, and 64-piece puzzles in a range of topics including, kindness, friendship, gratitude, Easter, and Christmas.
8. Free Family Tear-Off Kindness Coupons
These kindness coupons are great for bringing the family together. There are various templates with spaces for 8 or 12 acts of kindness.
For younger students, you can just print the ready-to-use coupons for them to pop on the fridge. Older kids can write nice things they can do for each member of their family themselves. What I love about this activity is that it gets kids thinking about the things their loved ones appreciate.
These free templates encourage kids to show kindness towards their family members. The coupons will delight mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers when they can tear off a coupon where the child will:
They can add whatever they like to the coupons as long as it's something they're doing for someone else. They'll want to try to consider everyone in their family so there's something on there for everyone.
Use the coupons while you're on break or during International Day of Families, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, or birthdays. It's a versatile template you'll get a lot of use from.
What's your favorite way to keep your kids entertained over summer that reinforces positive character traits?
P.S. If you want more fun ways to embed social-emotional learning, check out these other great sites.