Acts of Love and Kindness
Small actions can make big differences
by Kirk Hayles (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the idea of kindness and love without the desire for personal gain (SEAL theme 2, ‘Getting on and falling out’).
Preparation and materials
Familiarize yourself with the story about Gandhi in the ‘Assembly’, Step 2.
Optional: you may like to prepare a personal story to replace the one in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4.
- Optional: after the assembly, you may like to put up reminder notes around school with a suitable graphic and text, perhaps along the following lines, ‘Remember – try an act of kindness or love this week.’
- Explain that this assembly is about acts of kindness and love. Ask the children if they have experienced any act of kindness already today.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain to the children that you are going to tell them a story about a man called Gandhi, who was one of the most famous leaders and champions for justice in the world.
As Gandhi stepped aboard a train one day, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track. He was unable to retrieve it because the train was moving. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly reached down and took off his other shoe. As the train continued to move forwards, he threw it back along the track to land close to the first. Asked by a fellow passenger why he did so, Gandhi smiled. ‘The poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track,’ he replied, ‘will now have a pair he can use.’
- Explain that Gandhi lived in India, a country where there is a lot of poverty. Many people went barefoot because they could not afford shoes. Reread the story, allowing time for the meaning to sink in - you will probably find that the children are even more attentive the second time.
- If you can, come up with a modern-day example of kindness, such as the following from the writer’s experience.
The lady in front of me at the car park ticket machine was searching her purse and bag for change, muttering the whole time that she was going to be late. Waving a £20 note, she asked if I had any change – she needed just £1 more to pay for the ticket so that she could get out of the car park. She said she was going to be late to meet her daughter for lunch if she had to go back into the town centre to get change.
I didn’t have £20 of change on me, so I simply offered her the £1 she needed to pay for the car park. The lady asked me if she could send the money back to me. I said there was no need and that I was sure that she would do the same for someone in her situation. She smiled, said thank you, gently squeezed my hand as she took the offered £1 coin, paid for her ticket and scurried away. I knew that I now did not have enough change to pay for my ticket, and that I would have to return to the shops to get change – but it was a sunny day, I wasn’t in a rush and I felt good.
- Encourage the children to think about what they could do, perhaps at home, to show their kindness and love for others. Suggest that they could surprise their parents or another relative by offering to make a cup of tea or do the washing up. Alternatively, even more powerfully, they could kiss their parent on the cheek and whisper ‘I love you’ before disappearing off to play, or leave a little note to the same effect for someone to find.
- Remind the children that it is often the small, kind things we do that have big impacts on other people.
Time for reflection
Gandhi was a remarkable man who had an amazing ability to think in a very different way from most other people. He often put thoughts of others before himself. We can all learn something from his example.
Please help us to look each day for opportunities to be kind to others.
Help us never to be so busy looking after ourselves that we forget about other people.
‘When a knight won his spurs’ (Come and Praise, 50)