Scroggs Elementary Community Paints 600 Kindness Rocks
Early in February, the fourth grade teachers at Scroggs Elementary School (SES) discussed ideas for a project that would encourage students to focus on kindness. “We thought if children painted a rock and selected a thoughtful word, phrase or quote that might inspire others, it would be a tangible way to spread kindness,” said teacher Jeanette Dixon, project instigator and coordinator. “The idea was to create kindness rocks and use them as an art installation in our school garden as an ongoing reminder to our school community to spread kindness.”
Dixon experimented with different kinds of rocks and paints, and she settled on pastel acrylic paints and white “river rocks” from Home Depot. Over the course of several weeks, every teacher and then every student had the opportunity to paint a white rock and write a kindness affirmation of their own creation, or using a list of 200 positive words and phrases. On a recent afternoon, groups of students from different grades shared tabletops and paints as they produced a vibrant array of kindness rocks.
“Kindness rocks are the potential for kindness to happen. It’s inevitable, but their final outcome will be the true surprise. The beauty about kindness is that it benefits all parties,” said Dixon. “You don’t have to be present or even acknowledge it for this to happen.” She noted that the children knew from the beginning that the rocks would be part of the school’s garden, moving away from the idea of personal ownership. “I’m hoping as teachers, when we see a child going into that Red Zone, we can say, ‘Let’s take a walk in the garden, reflect on a message and why it is important to you,” said Dixon.
During the Garden Spring Kick Off on March 3, parents, children and older student volunteers worked for two hours to weed beds, rake paths and then assemble the kindness rocks into a border between the fenced garden and the playground. In that location, even children on the playground can look at the hundreds of rocks to find the ones they painted, or to receive a reminder of the kindness surrounding them. “Students past and present created a dry river bed of kindness,” Dixon said.
“We are giving the children the tools to go home and get their families involved to create their own kindness rocks to put in their gardens, share with others or hide them out in the community,” Dixon said. “Who knows what might happen…”