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Lesson Plan

Living the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness

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Living the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Introduction: 50 minutes; thereafter: 15 minutes per session, for one month
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • identify ways that they can make a difference with their choices and actions.

  • participate in Dr. King's dream by caring for, helping, and supporting others.

  • keep records of their acts of kindness on a 100s Chart.

  • participate in reading and writing activities for authentic audiences.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. Learn about Dr. King.
    For the week prior to Dr. King’s birthday, use lessons available from ReadWriteThink and other Thinkfinity sites, including the following:

  2. Focus on Dr. King’s Dream.
    Review some of the literature and Websites shared during your first week. Useful Websites are listed in the Resources section. Books which can be used for your review are listed under Preparation in the Resources section.

  3. Discuss what it means to be part of Dr. King’s dream.

    • Read Let’s Read About...Martin Luther King, Jr. by Courtney Baker aloud to students. As you share the book, ask students to make connections between the events and ideas in the books and their own experiences. When you reach the last page of the book, ask students what the book means when it says we need to “make the world a better place for everyone.” Take the opportunity to help your students see that Dr. King’s dream is on-going and how they can be part of the dream.

    • Read I Am Freedom’s Child by Bill Martin Jr. aloud to students and discuss what it means to be “Freedom’s Child”—what we can do as children of freedom to care for and help others.
  4. Plan and implement your project: Live the Dream.

    • Use the January and February classroom calendars to count the days between Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. (You need to decide if you will begin on January 15, King's actual birthday, or on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.) Challenge your students to complete 100 acts of kindness during that period.

    • Ask students to brainstorm things that they think they can do. Record their responses on a sheet of chart paper (so that you can save the list for use during the entire project). Encourage them to think of ways they can help others such as recycling, collecting food for a local food pantry, gathering toys for the homeless shelter, helping their parents or grandparents at home, helping younger brothers and sisters at home, helping one another at school, and so forth.

    • Ask students to decide how you'll know when people have completed an act of kindness. You may want to “catch people being kind,” making the rule that students cannot report their own acts—someone has to “tell on you.” If you choose this method, invite parents, grandparents, and other family and community members to join in and report acts of kindness they've observed.

    • Compose a letter with students to send home to families, explaining the project and how families can participate (here's an example). If desired, use the Letter Generator student interactive to review parts of a letter and compose your letter as a class. Family members, neighbors, and classmates will soon become experts at noticing all the kind acts that are happening and becoming writers of great reports and affirming notes.

    • Encourage students to use the classroom writing center to write thank you notes to one another for helping to find lost book bags, sharing crayons or pencils, helping clean up spilled paint, and so forth. These notes become documentation of an act of kindness, and the added benefit is that students will be doing real writing for a real purpose and a real audience.

    • Make a display board for all these notes. After the project is officially completed, you can make a scrapbook of all the notes, and add the collection to your classroom library. You can continue to add to the book for the rest of the school year if you want.

    • Integrate this project with your math instruction by devising ways to keep track of the acts of kindness that students choose to do. A great option is to add a sticker to a 100s chart for each act of kindness reported. You can also use another piece of chart paper to record the actual activities the students did, using tally marks to keep a record of the number of people who recycled, and so forth.
  5. Choose a class service project.

    • Return to the list that students brainstormed when you began the project and ask students to choose an activity that the class can complete as a group.

    • Discuss the options, narrow down the list, and vote to choose the option the class will complete.

    • Once a project has been selected, ask students to brainstorm or discuss what they'll need to do to make the project a success. Encourage your students to set goals and think about ways to track their success.

    • Follow through by involving students with the final step for the project, by delivering the items to a collection point, having someone come to your class to collect the items, and so forth.

    • Also document the project as part of the larger list of 100s, on your 100s chart, by adding notes to your display board, and keeping tally of your progress.

      Example Project
      You might choose to collect food for the local food pantry. Once the food has been collected, students can sort all the items and make a graph to record what they have collected before boxing up the donations. If possible, you can invite a representative of the food pantry to come to your class. Students can give their donation to the representative in person, explaining about the project. Ask the representative to be prepared to explain how the food will help people in your community. If you receive a thank you letter, be sure to include the letter in your scrapbook.
  6. Celebrate!

    • As a reflection and celebration piece, draw a large web- (or wheel-) shaped graphic organizer. Write “Dr. King’s Dream” in the center. Create a spoke from the center for each student in the class, with an oval at the end. Each student will choose something to write in one of the circles. Students can share observations of what they learned from the project, how they felt about being part of the dream, and so forth. The chart will provide a record of what you have learned and experienced.

    • Make a banner using the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., as found in Martin’s Big Words or another book you've read. The sentence “Love is the key to the problems of the world,” for instance, works well. You can use hand prints to form the word “LOVE.”

    • Display any books and images that you've collected as part of the project as well as your display board of notes, brainstorming lists, 100s charts, graphs, and reflection web. You might choose to keep this display up for your next open house or educational fair.

    • Conclude your project with a Valentine’s Party as a tribute to friendship and to Dr. King’s dream.

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The reflection and celebration web provides a strong assessment piece for this lesson. By asking each student to contribute something for the wheel, you can quickly see what students are taking away from the lesson. The web chart creates a record of what students have accomplished and how they feel about it all.

Additionally, the artifacts of the lesson (display board of notes, brainstorming lists, 100s charts, and so forth) provide concrete evidence of the work that students have completed.

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