Saturday, January 18, 2014

Object Lesson on Acts of Kindness

Earlier in the week, we read the book Each Kindness.  The book discusses that a single act of being kind creates ripples of kindness that are carried out into our world.

Building on that conversation about being kind, I wanted to do an object lesson about acts of kindness, to have another conversation about how little acts of kindness can make a difference.

Do small things really create movement?

If our world was, in fact, water in the sink . . .

And, if each act of kindness was something we dropped in the water, then we have two questions:

Our first question:  If small acts of kindness create ripples, can there be an act of kindness that is too small to create ripples?

Our second question:  Can many small acts of kindness together create as many ripples as a large one?

We grabbed all the small things we could think of trying to test the theory and answer our questions:
  • Sprinkles (the kind you put on cookies, we grabbed the smallest: colored sugar)
  • Little rubber bands
  • Marshmallows (any excuse to grab the marshmallows, right?)
  • Toothpicks 
  • Leaves (big and little)
  • And, for fun, we grabbed a fossil, too.
We filled the sink with water and started testing the theory.

First, the fossil, representing a larger service project:  like pulling weeds from a neighbor's yard or visiting a nursing home.

The result:  SPLASH!  "Of course!" Big Brother exclaimed, "We knew that would move the water."

Second, a leaf, representing a "regular-sized" service project:  like making someone a meal, handing a hygiene kit to someone in need, or inviting a new friend over to play.

The result:  There were ripples.

Next, a toothpick, a "regular" act of kindness:  like writing a nice note to someone, taking a treat to a neighbor, or giving out a homeless care kit.

The result:  There were ripples. (The boys are extremely confident of knowing all outcomes by now.) 

Then, a little rubber band, still smallish acts of kindness:  like telling someone a joke or picking up a toy they dropped without being asked.

The result:  There were ripples, even with a single rubber band.

Last, a sprinkle, representing the smallest act of kindness:  like holding the door for someone or saying HI.

The result:  There were ripples when we dropped a single a sprinkle!

Whooo-hoooooo!  The boys were very excited at this result.

We, then, talked about whether all the little things, together, could make as many ripples as the single fossil did.  So, we tried it, putting in a pinch of each of the items.
  • Lots of sprinkles made as much movement in the water as the single fossil did.
  • Lots of little rubber bands made as much movement in the water as the single fossil did.
  • The leaves did not make as much of a movement in the water, but the leaves themselves moved across the span of the sink.  So, we counted that.
  • Lots of toothpicks made as much movement in the water as the single fossil did, and, we think, maybe even more than the fossil.
You could see the connections being made in their heads.

"So, do you think that we can help others by doing little things as well as with big things?" 
Little Brother asked.

"Yes!" Big Brother answered.

Even a grain of salt causes ripples in the water.


  1. WoW ... your boys will be equipped with the most important virtue ever! And I bet that author would LOVE the built-in science experiment you just wrote for her gem. Thank you, Sheila, for being such a force of nature as you model good things and send them rippling out into our world!


  2. As a former Special Education teacher (and currently the creator and author of a faith based blog that aims to provide stepping stoneS of hope to those struggling with their faith in the midst of their physical/emotional strongholds), this was one of the most powerful lessons I've ever read about. Bravo!

    Claudia De Mauro
    ~ Be The Stepping Stone ~
    Creator of The Gratitude Gallery & Gratitude Gallery Blog Hop