Tuesday, 7 November 2017

'WAKE UP!' ~ Be Kind, Be Grateful

Two important dates occur at this time of year: World Kindness Day (November 13th) and Thanksgiving, a national holiday celebrated in October or November, depending on the country celebrating.

The English Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Kindness’ as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. ‘Gratitude’ is defined as the quality of being thankful.

If you are a teacher looking for a creative and effective resource for encouraging these virtues in your students, our curriculum-aligned song package, ‘Wake Up!’ (Grades 2-6) is perfect (I can personally vouch for this, as I use it myself in my own classroom lessons)! 

The song's narrative-style lyrics, combined with my
 colleague and 'partner in rhyme', Kathryn's beautiful, reflective-style music provide a powerful, engaging tool for eliciting empathy, compassion, and gratitude.

The flow on from this, is a desire, in the students, to respond positively towards others, with kindness, empathy, compassion, and consideration.  

The lyrics also highlight the importance of making responsible choices and taking responsibility for those choices, focusing student attention on these and other positive behaviours. 

Here is a sample of the lyrics:
Every day when I awake,
There’ll be choices I must make,
‘Cause once my eyes are open, I will see.
So whether I give or I just take,
The choice is mine for goodness sake!
There are other people in this world and not just me.

Verse 3
Then the T.V. caught my eye, 
Children poor, sick and hungry, 
Eyes so sad and homes all gone, 
My own life flashed before me.
It made me feel so ashamed
That tears trickled from my eyes,
I said ‘Sorry’ to my mother
And she turned and looked surprised.

Now my eyes are open I can see 

Verse 5
Let’s all make the most of life,
There’s so much to be explored.
Every day’s a special gift,
To be opened, not ignored.
Give our thanks for everyone,
Make a difference every day;
Try to be the best we can,
Share the things that come our way.

Now my eyes are open I can see.
©Lyrics: Nuala O'Hanlon, B.Ed; Cert Teaching
Music: Kathryn Radloff, B.A. (Hons) Psych.
Click here to Preview song sample.

As parents and educators we endeavour to model and express kindness and gratitude with the children in our care, and to reinforce these values and positive behaviours throughout the day. We’re mindful of behaving kindly towards others, and expressing our thanks, because, in the words of William Arthur Ward:
‘Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’ 
As a ‘vintage’ teacher, I firmly believe in the power of song as a medium for helping children learn, and take every opportunity to utilise it in my own teaching. 

As a lyricist, I write lyrics that target outcomes and learning sequences of curriculum documents, making our songs perfect for kick starting class discussions, extending literacy, and summarizing unit content, etc. 

Kathryn has a gift for making these lyrics come alive! Once she has worked her usual musical magic, they become powerful tools for achieving outcomes, supporting & integrating classroom learning, and aiding recall of important information, etc. (
FYI: Our curriculum-aligned songs also solve the problem of what to perform at school assemblies!) 

Here are are a few simple, practical suggestions for reinforcing kindness & gratitude in the classroom: 
  • Start the day with a happy, kindness song to help create unity and a positive attitude
  • Incorporate manners songs to reinforce kindness, consideration for others, and other courteous behaviours
  • Brainstorm things for which we are grateful
  • Keep a daily Gratitude Journal of 5 things for which to be thankful...
  • Brainstorm ways we can show kindness to others at home/school/team sports…
  • Write a ‘Thank You’ card to parents & family members / school helpers / school crossing person / a neighbour
  • Celebrate / write about happy experiences and express gratitude for them
  • List great things that happened today
  • Research kindness and gratitude quotes
  • Compile a class 'Kindness & Gratitude Quotes' book
I'll leave you with a quote from Frederick William Faber:
'Kind words are the music of the world.'  
Here’s to being kind and grateful every day!

Yours in singing to learn,