Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is a thoughtful story about excluding others and missed opportunities for kindness. The theme of kindness and acceptance makes it a great book to read for back to school, Valentine's Day, World Kindness Day, or any time during the year that you want to encourage kindness to your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students.
The text and vocabulary in this book are not complicated, so it is sometimes used in younger grade levels. However, the themes of this book are very appropriate and helpful for upper elementary students.
Below, find questions and activity ideas to use in your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade lesson plans when reading Each Kindness.
Summary of the Read Aloud Each Kindness
A new student named Maya comes to Chloe's class and sits next to Chloe. Maya's clothes are well-worn and broken. Maya tries to make friends with Chloe and the other students. She smiles, invites them to play games, and tries to talk with them. Chloe and the other students do not play or talk with her; instead, they laugh and whisper about her behind her back.
One day, Chloe's teacher teaches a lesson on kindness. Chloe decides she wants to show kindness to Maya, but Maya moves away and never comes back to school. Chloe never gets a chance to show Maya kindness.
Before, During, and After Reading Questions for Each Kindness
Before Reading Questions
- What is kindness? What is the kindest thing you have done for someone else? What is the kindest thing someone has done for you?
- Describe a time you have been unkind to someone or someone has been unkind to you. How did it make you feel?
- What predictions can you make about the main character based on the title and illustrations?
During Reading Questions
- Do you think the students in the class will change how they treat Maya? Why or why not?
- What character trait would you use to describe Maya? Explain.
- What would you have done differently from Chloe? Why?
After Reading Questions
- Why did Chloe change her mind about how to treat Maya?
- If Chloe got a chance to talk to Maya, what do you think she would say? Why?
- Explain how kindness is like a ripple of water.
Activity Ideas to Use In Your Each Kindness Lesson Plans
Have Students Practice Using Kind Words and Giving Compliments
In Each Kindness, nobody said anything kind to Maya. She was either ignored or made fun of. Make sure the 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students in your classroom all have an opportunity to hear kind words about themselves by having your students compliment each other.
This Compliments Book makes this easy. Each student gets their own book where they collect compliments from other classmates. The book includes sentence starters to help students come up with meaningful compliments.
Ripple Bowl Activity
Complete the kindness activity that Ms. Albert does in the book with water and small stones. Have students share a small kindness they have done and think about the possible ripple effects.
Extend this activity with these ideas and a free water droplet template.
Think About Kindness in a Variety of Ways
There are so many different ways to practice kindness in your classroom. These no prep kindness worksheets help your students think about ways they can be kind to others, reflect on ways others have been kind to them, and expand their vocabulary related to kindness.
Have Students Interview A Friend
In Each Kindness, no one took the time to get to know Maya. Had the students talked to her, they probably would have found commonalities or shared interests that would have naturally led to friendship.
Having students interview each other is a fun and easy way to help them get to know each other. Make planning this activity easier with these tips and interview questions for interviewing a friend or classmate.
Teach Theme With This Read Aloud
Since this book has a clear message that the author is trying to teach, Each Kindness is great for teaching theme!
Ask students questions that help focus on the theme of the book.
- What did Chloe learn?
- How did Chloe change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story?
- What does this story teach you about how to treat other people in your life?