HAPPINESS & KINDNESS LESSON

Introduction

While a 3 or 4-year-old child can't yet sit and pay attention for extended periods of time, developing focus and concentration is vital for future classroom success. Focus-building is a must for kindergarten readiness. Using the chime which, when repeated each day, becomes a signal for the brain to focus. Simple attention training techniques like focusing on the breath, sound, or even slow, long out-breaths help to build the confidence and control needed to be able to pay attention for extended periods of time.


Happiness & Kindness Lesson

Exercises:

  • The Breath
    • Smile Breath
    • Breath in through your nose and imagine your happiest smell.
  • The Body
    • Exercises that make you happy.
    • Make your best happy smile.
  • The Senses
    • Foods that cheer you up.
    • Songs that make you happy.
  • Visualization
    • Who makes you happy every day?
  • Other Happiness Exercises
    • Think about a happy memory.
    • It’s Good To Be Kind
    • Building a Kindness Monster
    • The Happiness Tree
    • Friendly Wishes

Materials:

  • Chime
  • Paper
  • Markers or Crayons

Introduction:

Happiness is closely linked to our habits:

  • How we think and feel about the world, and therefore perceive our experiences.
  • Certain actions or habits, such as regular exercise, eating healthfully, meditating, connecting with other people, even – proven in study after study – regularly smiling and laughing!

‘Happy’ and the Brain

  • brain’s natural “plasticity”—it’s ability to change shape over time
  • kids who are stressed a lot release the hormone cortisol which literally eats away, almost like an acid bath, at the hippocampus
  • If we pay attention to what we are grateful for when we are happy, what makes us happy, then we train our brain for happiness

The Habit of Happiness

  • The more you practice or remember happy things that have happened to you, the more your brain cells - neurons - connect with each other. The more connected they are, the stronger they are. Neurons that fire together, wire together.
  • Practicing happiness, you are training the brain to be happy more often.

Starting the Lesson:

Begin with the chime. Review the brain parts, reminding students that the amygdala is the feelings center of the brain. Creating happy feelings often allows the amygdala to relax rather than be on guard. This makes your whole brain happy and able to pay attention and learn new things.

Gratitude:

Research shows that gratitude has tons of fantastic benefits. You know the phrase, an attitude of gratitude? Well, it really is an attitude! There is a lot of research on gratitude, but here are some of the highlights. People who regularly practice grateful thinking:

  • Grati-toadFeel better about their lives as a whole
  • Are more optimistic about the future
  • Are more likely to help others
  • Have better relationships
  • Have better sleep, exercise more frequently and have fewer physical symptoms
  • Feel happier, and are less lonely
  • See more at Momentous Institute

Grati-toad Exercise:

Source: Momentous Institute

The grati-toad is a concrete way for kids to express gratitude. Basically, you give the child a toad (a cheap-o dollar store toad is perfectly fine) and have them pose the toad with something that they’re grateful for and snap a picture. Post the pictures in the classroom, or have the children take the photos home to remind them of what they are grateful for.

Additional Resources

Ready To Get Started?

Head to the Curriculum for Parents and Teachers Next.