Monday, March 3, 2014

The Kindness Tree {Inspiring Gentleness in My Lovelies}

Good Morning!
I hope this finds you warm and cozy in spite of this Arctic Blast
that just doesn't seem to want to go away
(no matter how much I want it to!).

I'm here today to share a very special art project with you.
The TJ kiddies, staff, and I have been working on this particular project
pretty much the entire school year thus far.
Here's the story:

At the beginning of the year, I noticed we, as a group, 
were having issues with rudeness and sometimes down-right meanness.
Usually over silly things that don't matter 
in the grand scheme of things anyway.
Well, I took as much of it as I could take
and then decided I needed to do something about it.
For awhile I tried pep talks and nagging sessions,
but you know how kids are:
pretty much everything I said went in one ear and out the other.

That's when it kind of dawned on me that I needed to INSPIRE them
to be kind and gentle with one another.
And reward those acts of kindness.
As I'm sure I've mentioned a time or two,
the YMCA budget for my school is not very large
and I personally am flat broke 95% of the time.
Therefore I needed to find a reward system that was inexpensive yet effective
(not always an easy compromise to find).

One day I was surfing Pinterest
and found a project that I very much wanted to do with the children.
It was a Button Tree.
(You all know about my love of trees, right?)
Then I realized, what if I introduced the idea 
of a Kindness Button Tree?

Meaning that when the children showed kindness
to one another and/or a staff member,
they would be rewarded by getting to 
put a button on the Kindness Tree.
The button would have the child's name
and the date on it,
so there would be no doubt in anyone's mind
who the button belonged to!
I was EXCITED about this idea.
My wonderful, artistic assistant, Nicole,
painted a beautiful, curly tree onto a canvas
and I was nearly dizzy with giddiness 
about starting to put buttons on it.
Then I realized I had no buttons available to me.

The supply closet at the YMCA was bare of buttons
and so was my personal craft stash.
However I didn't let this defer me.
I was sold on the Kindness Button Tree idea.

It's interesting how things kind of work themselves out.
A few days after this idea came to me,
I had one of my lovelies grandmother approach me 
and tell me that she was willing to make donations.
Then she said the magic words,
"Is there anything specific you need?"
With a GIANT smile on my face,
I told her about my Kindness Button Tree idea
and the shortage of buttons.

She smiled and told me not to worry about it.
The next week she donated nearly every single button 
you see on the pictures below.
The very first button I put on the tree has her name on it.
I'm in LOVE with our Kindness Tree.
What do you think?

Here it is proudly hanging in our "Art Gallery".
I told you I had a thing for trees...

What inexpensive rewards have you used with children?
Were they successful?

Have a great Monday!