Six Ways to Lift your Students’ Spirits Today

A little girl is drawing on the ground with

“I saw students on Zoom with blank stares. I saw students with little to no emotion. These students who were once filled with life had changed.” – Ms. Kelly, 9th Grade

For Ms. Kelly and her class, the answer was Finding Gratitude One Journal Entry at a Time. It’s been an extraordinarily challenging school year. You’re not alone in your fatigue, your concern, or your sincere desire to lift your students to a brighter place. Here are six ways your next DonorsChoose project can bring much-needed joy and wellness to your classroom.

1. Add some color.

Every sidewalk is a blank canvas, whether it’s outside your classroom or in your students’ front yards. For a simple project that will bring smiles to your students (and their neighbors!), request a forever favorite: buckets of sidewalk chalk and other outdoor art supplies.

“Sadly, my seven and eight year-old students are spending way too much time on their computers. Sidewalk chalk is another way to get students out and moving. They can create drawings or even leave messages for friends and neighbors. Getting outside and playing is so important for the physical and mental health of these young students.” —Healthy Minds and Healthy Bodies, Mrs. Maiorano, 2nd Grade

“It is difficult to create a sense of unity as a class among students who are learning entirely over Zoom, but we work hard to do this having grade level Zoom meetings on “Fun Fridays” where we do Fun activities together. For our final “Fun Friday” of the year, we’d like to introduce the students to the Kindness Rocks project and participate in rock painting together over Zoom. Students will paint rocks and can put positive messages on them. We will encourage them to hide the rocks around the community where people can find them, so that the rocks may bring joy to others.” —Rock Painting Kits for Kindness Rocks, Ms. Mohr, 9th Grade

Picture of stamps and envelopes

2. Send a smile.

A snail mail surprise makes any day brighter! You can request stamps from Staples, shipping supplies, and small treats and trinkets to send to your students at home, whether you see them in the classroom or only on screen.

“I’d love your help with purchasing more stamps so I can continue to send my students letters in the mail to let them know they’re doing a great job! This pandemic has really made students feel disconnected from school, but these letters to them are reminders that they are still part of our school community, and we still care about them and all their successes, no matter how small.” —Mail Call for our Class, Ms. Heckmann, 3rd Grade

“I had the opportunity to ship boxes of books and treats to all of my young learners, even the kids who are coming to campus for instruction (because everyone loves receiving mail!). I was so grateful for the chance to bring joy into their lives and connect with kids who I have only interacted with via a computer screen.” —Spring Care Packages, Mrs. I., 4th Grade

3. Shake it off.

Lift your students’ hearts by raising their heart rates. Pedometers, musical instruments, colorful sensory objects, and yoga mats help get students moving independently or together, at home or in the classroom.

“Students and families will be given pedometers to…take mindfulness walks that will allow for mindfulness scavenger hunts, acts of kindness to be shared, and time for discussions of what they are learning, what interests they have, how they are handling life in a pandemic, and any other topics they wish to work on.” —Steps for Students: Taking Steps for Social and Emotional Learning, Ms. C, 2nd Grade

“These instruments will give my children the opportunity to create their own music dance beat. Every single day we dance all around the classroom while listening to all different genres of music. The colorful scarves will be used while we dance to the music. This music project will certainly give my students the joy of music in such a fun way” —Music Ignites All Areas of Child Development, Ms. Palomba, Pre-K – 2

“My students need yoga mats to self regulate their bodies and emotions. At the beginning of each day we set aside 15 to 20 minutes to do child centered yoga, to help the kids get in touch with both their body and their emotional state.” —Yoga-tastic, Ms. Burke, Grades 3-5

Go on a (Virtual) Adventure.

A little escapism might be just what your students need to re-engage with learning. The DonorsChoose Teacher’s Guide to Virtual Field Trips will show you how to bring farm animals, outer space, celebrated authors, or world-class art and music to your classroom or Zoom screen.

“As we explore the vast universe and the International Space Station, students wish to be more a part of the experiment but a field trip during Covid is not an option. Who doesn’t remember going to the museum and someone buying space ice cream and getting to try it? Just a fun way to bring joy into learning when students have had to change and grow so much this year.” —Space Ice Cream for Explorers During a Non-Field Trip Year!, Mrs. Schenk, Grades 3-5

5. Take a Brain Break.

When life gets overwhelming, learning becomes even more difficult. Request items that give your students a productive option for downtime. Chess sets, puzzles, sensory toys, fidget spinners, and art supplies can help students reset and recharge.

“Learning through this pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone. My students [need] materials to make slime and stress balls, paintings, coloring books, snacks, and games to encourage and inspire relaxation, meditation, and friendship through collaboration to support mental and emotional wellness.” —Let’s Be Stress Free!, Ms. Ovalle, 9th Grade

“We will be returning to the classroom soon! [My students] will be asked to stay at their seat for the entire time they are at school. This is going to be a challenge for many of my students so I want to provide a Brain Break Kit for every student in my classroom. This kit will include a couple fidget toys, a deck of cards, a Rubik’s Cube, and some coloring pages.” —Brain Break Kits, Ms. Potthoff, 6th Grade

6. Give 5 More Minutes of Recess

And finally, a request from all students everywhere that requires no DonorsChoose project at all: when the day gets overwhelming, 5 more minutes of recess or unstructured social time is always a good idea. 🧡

Ready for some classroom joy? Start your project today!

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