We learned a lot about the importance of Internet safety over the last year of remote and hybrid learning. For example, we know that the digital world creates both challenges and opportunities for social interaction among our students. It can be a really negative space, but it can also be a place of kindness and empathy. However, it’s not enough to simply tell kids to “be nice” on the Internet. They need to be taught. That’s why we love these free SEL lessons for teaching kids in grades 2-6 how to be kind online, new additions to Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum:
Lesson 1.1: Noticing Feelings
We begin by addressing “That Thing Called Empathy.” For this quick introductory lesson for grades 2-3 students, you’ll read aloud a list of common feeling words and give them time to think about when they have felt that way and the story behind it. You’ll then move into an activity that will help students figure out how people in books and other media feel.
Lesson 1.2: Practicing Empathy
This lesson skews slightly older. The grades 4-6 crowd digs into practicing empathy with people they encounter online, which is hard because it’s so hard to read emotions digitally. They’ll learn to use cues like emojis, photos, and all caps to better understand how people feel when they text and post.
Lesson 2.1: Your Kindness Gram
This is such a fun grade 2-3 lesson, and many kids are familiar with Val-O-Grams, random acts of kindness, and the like. You’ll invite your students to think about someone in their life—maybe a friend, a teacher or a family member—to whom they want to show kindness and fill out a kindness gram to help plan it out.
Lesson 2.2: Ways to Show Kindness
In this lesson for grades 4-6, students will brainstorm how to show kindness in different scenarios, such as:
- People leaving disrespectful comments on a selfie a friend posted.
- Playing an online game, and one player trash-talking another player.
- Several friends making mean jokes about another student in a private group chat.
Lesson 2.3: From Negative to Nice
Help your students flip the script in this lesson for the entire grade band. Students take negative comments like “Everybody wear purple tomorrow, but don’t tell Lilly” and brainstorm how they could respond in a way that would make the conversation more positive.
Lesson 2.4: About Your Tone
It’s so easy to have a misunderstanding when you’re texting or chatting online. Grades 4-6 students will look at a series of text messages (“Whatever,” “kk fine,” “That’s so cool”) and read them in different tones (angry, sarcastic, friendly). Then, they’ll discuss how they can better communicate what they mean.
Lesson 2.5: How Words Can Change the Whole Picture
This all-ages lesson is a great opportunity to build media literacy while learning about kindness and empathy. Students will look at a series of images with different text to understand the power of their words, especially when combined with pictures they post.
Lesson 2.6: Kind Kingdom
One of our favorite things about this curriculum is that it was designed to complement Google’s Internet safety game. Log your students on to Interland and direct them to Kind Kingdom to practice the online kindness skills they’ve been working on!