teach. pray. - We All Want a Wrinkle Free Heart
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day in an elementary school is FAR more hype than the day before Christmas break. As I entered Valentine’s Day, I knew I couldn’t compete, so I planned a special lesson about love and kindness.
Our reading lesson started with a read aloud (recommended by our awesome school librarian) of Be Kind by Pat Zietlow and Jen Hill. It’s a beautiful story about the impact actions and words can have-both positive and negative. The students really enjoyed this read aloud. They were able to make connections and felt emotionally invested in the story.
After the read aloud, I had students complete an activity my co-worker shared with me. Each student got a pretty pink or purple heart. They got crayons and markers and wrote their name all fancy in the center of the heart. Then, we did a positive comment scoot where students scooted from heart to heart writing a positive comment about each person. When they got back to their own heart, I gave them one silent minute to read all the positive things their classmates had written. Once that silent minute was up, I asked, “How do these comments make you feel?” Brace yourselves for these tear jerker responses.
“I feel loved.”
“I feel better about myself.”
“It made me tear up to know people appreciate me.”
“It made me feel like I wanted to jump out of my boots.”
“I feel confident.”
“I feel like I belong.”
“All the colors of my heart spread out like a rainbow.”
“When they take the time to write down their your friend, it feels like they really mean it.”
“I’m happy because I didn’t know my classmates actually felt that way about me.”
“I feel like I have a purpose in the world.”
Y’all I was in tears especially knowing what I was about to tell them. I said, “You are going to be so mad at me, but I need you to take your heart in your hand and crumble it up into a ball of paper like you’re going to throw it away.”
The room instantly filled with, “What?! Why?!”
“Go ahead,” I said, “Ball it up like you’re going to throw it away.”
The atmosphere went from light and happy to solemn and thick as fast as a blink.
Once the hearts were balled up, I asked them to undo the ball and try to smooth out the wrinkles. They tried so hard! My room was full of papers rubbing against tables. As one kid said, “It sounds like rain. It feels like rain too. It went from sunny to rain.”
Once the hearts were sitting wrinkled in front of them, I explained the crumbling of the heart represented one negative word, comment, action, or lie. One negative can forever impact a heart full of positives. Once the word, comment, action, or lie has been said or done, it’s there forever. It can’t be taken back. It wrinkles someone’s heart.
I’ll never be able to describe the look of despair and disappointment in their eyes.
“How does it make you feel to see your beautiful heart wrinkled,” I asked.
“I feel like I’ve been buried in the ground,” one student said.
“I just want to run away,” another student said.
“I was really angry with you for making me mess it up.”
“I can’t fix it.”
The moral of the story is one negative overshadows a million positives. Often times, we allow the negative to define who we are, but we must dig deep into our hearts and let those positives do their work and shine through.
Oh, and don’t worry, I took pictures of all their sweet hearts and printed them a brand new, wrinkle free heart.