The smallest thing can make the biggest impact. Teaching children to get in the habit of doing kind things and paying it forward helps build a better future and can change our world.

Currently, we hear of so many bad things happening all over the world and it sometimes makes us feel like everyone is losing their minds – like there is no more good around us – like it’s almost the end of the world. That’s not true. There are still good people everywhere and there are many people that need our help. It does not need to be something big. It could be something as simple as a smile that would change someone’s life. 

Kids need ideas. They just need a little push towards the right direction. By having multiple resources, everything else falls into place.

First, take a look at this video found on YouTube with over 26 million views that would inspire many people to be kind and pay it forward:

Pay it Forward Activities / Fun Resources

1. Kindness Jar – (templates found here)

 Each student should get a picture of a jar and another page of rectangles and hands. In each rectangle, the students will write something nice to say to someone. They will cut each rectangle and give each to a classmate to glue in their “kindness jars”. Each strip should be given to a different classmate (not all to one or two people). Then, the students will decorate their jars and glue the hand under the jar for decoration purposes as shown in the picture. These jars look nice hung around the room and in the end each person will take their jars home to keep. Children usually feel good about themselves after reading nice words coming from their classmates. 

2. Speech Bubble Pay It Forward Ideas Creative Activity (found here) 

Each student should get a picture of girl or boy with the question box and a page of speech bubbles. First, the student will answer the question on what it means to pay it forward and what the point of it is. Example answer: Paying it forward is when someone does something for you, instead of paying that person back directly, you pass it on to another person instead. It can make the world a better place.”  Then, have them come up with 6 ideas to show how a person can pay it forward. They will write the idea and draw a picture in each speech bubble. They can then color, cut, and arrange the speech bubbles around the girl or boy as shown in the picture. These end up looking fabulous around the room.

3. Compliment Cards 

You can find the free printable compliment cards here. Once you download and cut the cards, kids can place them in random places around the community for people to find. This is a great and simple idea!

4. The Quilt Challenge (found here)

The Quilt challenge includes simple ways you can pay it forward. Every time the student completes one of the ideas, they can color in the part of the quilt. I would tell the students to focus on people outside of their class. For example, they can smile at 5 people from different classes or at the store that evening (don’t make it awkward). At the end of the week, you can put everyone’s quilt together for a lovely design and then talk about how they might have made a difference by just doing simple kind things.

5. Posters to brighten up the room (found here)

Sometimes kids need constant reminders and inspiration to continue to pay it forward and be kind. Putting up posters are great motivators and these bright ones I created are eye-catchers. Simply print, laminate for durability, and stick to the wall. They are 11″ x 8.5″. 

6. The Magic Wand Project 

The magic wand project is an amazing idea by the for kids. Basically, you leave magic wands all over the city such as libraries, schools, and playgrounds with an invitation attached to it to do 3 acts of kindness and discover your magic kindness together. A kid will find it, do the acts of kindness, and then leave it somewhere for another kid to find. You can find more information on it (here).

7. Pay it Forward Badges (found here)

These are 12 fun badges for kids that sends a positive message. They come in color or black and white. Children can color in the black and white badges to make it feel like their own. 

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List of Books for Children

Children need books to teach them something. What better thing to teach than spreading love and kindness?

(affiliate links are included in the post)

1.  Pay it Forward By Catherine Ryan Hyde 

This is an internationally best selling book. It send a heartwarming message that will stay with the child for a long time. It is great for grades 3-7. 

2. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson 

This story inspires and celebrates a world full of ordinary deeds. Can one child’s deed change the world? Read to find out! Good for grade levels 2-3. 

3.  Kyle’s Smile by A. M. Marcus 

This story highlights how a simple smile can bring positivity and happiness to an entire town. How many people will be affected by Kyle’s smile and can it truly make the world a better place? These are questions you can ask the child before reading the story to get them thinking. Good for grade levels P-3. 

4. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig 

This story explains how a simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend. It is a great book for kids to start noticing the “invisible” kids – the kids that they would not have noticed before making them recognize how other peers may be feeling. Great for grades 1-4. 

5. Paw it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde 

This book was inspired by the best selling author’s real-life dogs Jessie and Ella. Ella inspires kids to change the world through kindness through her adventures. Great for grade levels K-5. 

6. Pay it Forward Kids: Small Acts, Big Change by Nancy Runstedler 

Readers will meet ordinary kids from across North America who have done extraordinary things. 14 kids and 14 stories. Their stories demonstrate that you are never too young to make a difference or to improve the life of another. 

7. Sparkle on Sadie by Victoria Satory 

This one is a cute and touching story of kindness, hope, and paying forward. A fairy becomes sick and loses her sparkle so it becomes up to her family to her family and friends to help get it back. This story is inspired by a real life Sadie.

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