Keep a Family Kindness Journal
Reflect about compassion and think creatively about big ideas.
Keeping a compassion-themed journal is a wonderful way to build kindness into busy weeks and shine a spotlight on acts of kindness. Plus, you'll have a place to record family volunteering memories.
What You'll Need
Printed copies of our Family Service Memory reflection sheets
Duct tape in fun colors
Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
Create Your Journal
Inspire yourself by decorating the cover of your notebook with duct tape and stickers.
Choose your favorite prompts and quotes below. Using your colored pencils, crayons, or markers, artfully add a prompt or quote every few pages throughout your notebook. Get the kids involved, and make each page beautiful.
Print several of our Family Service Memory sheets. Keep them the back of your journal to use when you complete a service project or act of kindness. After you fill out your worksheet, glue it into your journal.
Kindness Journal Prompts
MAKE LISTS: Jot down as many answers as you can.
Who did you help today? Who helped you?
What are you grateful for?
What moments of this day brought you a feeling of peace or joy?
Who would enjoy receiving a handmade card or handwritten note? Consider choosing people you know personally and/or those you have heard about in the news. Discuss your choices.
Make a list of characteristics a good leader should have. Make a list of the characteristics a good citizen should have. How are these lists the same? How are they different?
Make a short list of things you, as a family, would like to change about your community, state, or country. Then discuss what action you could take to begin working toward some of those changes.
Make a list of things that are important about you and each of your family members that others would know just by looking. Make a list of things that are important about you and each of your family members that others would not know just by looking. Which list is longer? Which list feels more important? What does this teach us about other people?
Who do you know (friend, neighbor, relative, classmate, anyone!) who may be struggling with loneliness, illness, or grief? Make a list of simple things you could do to help that person.
Notice five complimentary things about your family members (or teacher or classmate, etc.).
What causes or issues are most important to you? How can you support those causes?
What emotions have you experienced in the past twenty-four hours?
ASK BIG QUESTIONS: Channel your inner philosopher and explore complicated ideas together.
Why do you think it's important to spend some of our time giving back to the community?
How do you think people feel when you do something kind for them? How do you feel when you've done something kind?
Why do you think it’s important that friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, and students help each other throughout the day?
What does it mean to have courage? Have you ever had to be brave?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would you change?
If we live in a free country, can we do whatever we want, whenever we want?
What does it mean to live in a community with others? What rules (laws) does a society need to run smoothly?
Talk about the distinction between courage and recklessness. Give examples of each. Emphasize the need for difficult decisions to be well-considered and the importance of acting on our values rather than our impulses.
Together, imagine arriving in a new country without knowing the language or customs. What would it be like to have to leave home quickly and suddenly? What would you miss? How would you feel?
ASK PERSONAL QUESTIONS: Self-reflection can help you face real-life challenges with more grace and confidence.
What would life be like if (someone specific, a friend in the car pool, a neighbor, a story from school) didn’t help you out today?
How do you make yourself feel better when you feel frustrated or angry at school? What about bored or tired? Excited?
If you won a grand prize of $1,000, how would you spend it?
If you won $1,000 and could not spend it on yourself or your family, how would you spend it?
Describe a moment when you felt proud.
Describe a moment you regret what you did or wish you had acted differently.
What should we do if we notice something that is unfair at school or in our community?
How does it make you feel to get a compliment? To give a compliment?
Talk about how making certain choices might result in the loss of popularity and how to navigate that with courage.
TELL STORIES: Explore big ideas through fiction by writing short stories, poetry, or comic strips.
- If you could have one super power, what would you choose? Write a brief story about how you use your power to help someone.
- An older student starts making fun of your friend's new shoes. What do you do or say. What would you be afraid of? What happens next?
- Write a story, poem, or comic about a child who finds a lost or hurt pet.
- Create a biography about a kid who invents a tool to save the rain forest, end homelessness, cure an illness, or eliminate loneliness.
- Write about a disagreement you were involved in recently, but write it from the perspective of the other person.
FIND MORE PROMPTS:
Choose your favorite questions from our blog post 29 Big-Hearted Questions for More Meaningful Family Conversations. Some - but not all - have been featured here.
Choose your your favorite quotes from the images on the right or from our Inspiration Pinterest Board. For five or ten minutes write or draw about what these quotes mean to you.
Tips for Keeping Your Journal
Schedule fifteen to thirty minutes each week to discuss the prompts and write or draw together.
Each time you encounter a new prompt, give everyone a few moments of quiet to consider what the prompt means to them. Then write for five to ten minutes, individually or as a family. Try not to worry about perfection. This journal is meant to inspire and promote creative thinking. You don't need to share it with anyone!
Here are some options for recording your ideas:
Take turns being the person to record the main ideas from a family conversation about your prompt.
Invite each family member to draw or write about your prompt. Then take time to discuss those ideas.
When you serve together, record your reflections using a Family Service Memory sheet and glue it into your journal.
Set a timer for five minutes. Write as much down as you can in that time. Follow your ideas wherever they go. After the timer goes off, review what you've written and discuss your ideas.
- My First Gratitude Journal: A Write-in, Draw-in Gratitude Journal for Kids by Vivian Tenorio. If you love the idea of a thoughtful journal for your family but aren't interested in creating your own, check out this ready-to-go gratitude journal for kids (and their grown ups).
Share This Journal: A Public Journal Documenting Random Acts of Kindness by Amy Gopel and Keryl Pesce. Start a ripple effect of kindness and journal keeping with this creative "Pay it Forward" journal, meant to be returned to its owner after it's completed.
Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions that help you Wonder About Everything! by David White. Explore more big ideas with this great collection for curious kids of every age.
Still looking? Browse our other tools for big-hearted reflection.
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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.