Hidden Helpers

Engage students in a week-long challenge to perform secret acts of kindness for someone!
Ages 8-14 / 60+
min Activity
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  • Identify individuals in their school community who may benefit from acts of kindness and support
  • Brainstorm thoughtful actions to perform for their chosen recipients by considering their unique experiences, emotions, and preferences
  • Optionally, meet with a partner class over a live virtual exchange to share about ways they help in their communities

Supporting Research

When educators integrate the teaching of kindness in classrooms, and make these practices critical to their daily work, research shows a positive impact on students’ wellbeing, sense of community and belonging, and relationships with each other. A positive school climate is also associated with increased academic performance, reduced bullying, and enhanced teacher retention. Thus, educators should encourage students to practice kindness to support someone they care about, and perspective taking to consider actions that might be the most meaningful for them. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Activity Partners

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  1. Begin the activity by explaining: “Over the next week, we’re going to participate in a challenge focused on spreading kindness throughout our school community. Each person will choose someone who could use some extra support or appreciation. For example, think about people who may often go unnoticed, but work hard to make our school a better place. Or, consider classmates who may be going through a hard time. We’ll perform small acts of kindness for them over the next week, but secretly so they don’t realize that it’s us! Are you ready?” 
  2. Distribute a copy of the “Hidden Helpers” handout and give students a few moments to think about someone who they want to help. 

    Then, ask them to brainstorm kind actions, such as: 
    • Writing them a thoughtful note 
    • Giving them a small gift 
    • Making a card for them
    • Creating artwork for them
    • Leaving an encouraging message for them 
    • Cleaning up their desk or workspace 
    • Helping them with a task 
    • Making a homemade treat for them 
    • Bringing them flowers or a plant
    • Giving them a “shout-out” to show appreciation for them 

    As students come up with their ideas, remind them to practice empathy for the recipient. They might ask themselves: “What are their experiences? What emotions might they be feeling? What would they find most helpful or comforting?” 

    For example, a new student probably feels lonely or nervous, and might appreciate actions that make them feel welcome or included. The school nurse, who works hard to keep the school healthy and safe, might appreciate gestures of gratitude. 
  3. Over the next week, encourage students to put their ideas into action and complete their small acts of kindness. 
  4. At the end of the week, gather students to reflect on their experiences by asking the following questions: 
    • Who did you choose and why? What qualities or experiences led you to choose this person as your recipient? 
    • Can you share one of your kind acts from this week? How did you practice empathy to come up with an action that would be helpful or appreciated by the recipient?
    • How do you think your actions made the recipient feel? Why is it important to consider the impact of our actions on others?
    • How did participating in this activity make you feel? Did you experience any moments of joy, satisfaction, or connection?
    • How do you plan to continue incorporating acts of kindness into your daily life? What steps can you take to make kindness a habit?
  5. Consider using the “Helping Hands” virtual exchange activity to invite students to share about their kind acts with a partner class!

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.