Kind vs. Unkind Words

Lead a conversation with students around getting to know a new friend and using respectful language with each other.
Ages 8-10 / 30
min Activity
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  • Consider the difference between kind and unkind words when describing another person, and how their words may impact others
  • ‍Practice getting to know a new friend, and truly understanding them, instead of making assumptions or relying on limited information

Supporting Research

Bullying is a serious problem, leading to consequences such as mental health problems, damage to self-esteem, academic problems, and depression. Although most students recognize that bullying is harmful, they might not know how to respond or lack the courage to act. This activity aims to equip students with kindness and collaboration as they discuss the impact of kind versus unkind words.

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


  1. Facilitate a conversation with students around using respectful language when describing others. You might ask:
    • What is an “adjective” and how are they used? What adjectives might you use to describe another person?
    • When you look at our list of adjectives, which words are kind? Which ones are unkind?
    • What is the difference between kind and unkind words?
    • Why is it important to be careful when we are choosing an adjective to describe another person?
    • How do people feel when you use kind words to describe them? What about when you use unkind words?
    • Sometimes, we may use words to describe another person without even knowing them. How do you think this makes them feel, especially when we use unkind words? What can we do differently?
  2. Use this Kahoot! game or this slideshow to help students learn about using respectful language when describing others. These resources will describe the difference between kind and unkind words, and the importance of getting to know others.
  3. Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions:
    • Did our conversation help you learn something new, or consider a different perspective?
    • Have you ever experienced a situation when someone misjudged you, or described you in a way that you didn’t like? How did this make you feel?
    • Think about a time when you made a new friend. How did you get to know each other?
    • What are some questions that we can ask someone to learn more about them?
    • How should we act to make them feel comfortable and like we are interested in what they are sharing with us?

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.